The Wolfpacker

July 2012

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 73 of 155

2012 FOOTBALL PREVIEW BY MATT CARTER Terrell Manning — have been drafted into the NFL. Another, Dwayne Maddox, was a valuable reserve that Tenuta labeled "a true team player" and has graduated from NC State. I |||||||||||| LINEBACKERS The other was junior D.J. Green (6-4, 220 pounds), a player that Tenuta admits has "tremendous upside" but will not play this fall because he is ineligible for the year for taking a banned nutritional supplement. In other words, Tenuta is working with an inexperienced and unproven linebacker corps, and yet the coach is not worried. "Cause you can't [worry]," Tenuta said. "You have what you have. It's my job as a coach to develop the best football player they can possibly be, and also to me I'm a little bit different in that I try to develop them into the best person they can possibly be, academically, obviously athletically and socially. That's your job. "You lose a guy like Nate Irving, you can't change it. He's gone. Now it's Audie Cole and Terrell Manning. They're gone. We've got to take what we have and build them. I'm not big into comparisons be- cause there are no comparisons. This guy is this, this guy is that. That's the way it is, and you've got to make them the best player they can be so we're successful. That's why they pay you to coach." Tenuta, whose job title now includes as- sociate head coach for defense, stated that after 15 spring practices nothing is etched in stone at linebacker, but of the six pri- mary players he worked out at the position, all of them showed him something. It starts in the middle with fifth-year se- ||||||| 2012 LINEBACKERS No. Name 48 Dillon Burdette 48 Robert Caldwell 43 Ryan Cheek 46 Drew Davis 34 Rickey Dowdy 50 Calvin Forbes 49 Zach Gentry 31 D.J. Green 35 Ryan Hart 39 Brandon Pittman 42 M.J. Salahuddin 26 J.T. Zdanek 41 Brandon McCain 5 Rodman Noel 45 Michael Peek 7 Sterling Lucas 72 ■ THE WOLFPACKER n his two seasons coaching lineback- ers at NC State, Jon Tenuta has relied on a stable of five players. Three of them — Audie Cole, Nate Irving and FACES NEW Unit Rebuilding After Losing Core Players nior Sterling Lucas, whom Tenuta believes is one of the best leaders on the unit. Lucas missed last season with a knee injury, but he is by far the most experienced option at linebacker. Lucas has played in 36 games with two starts to his credit. He has made 86 career tackles, 51 of them coming as a sophomore in 2009. He also has notched four tackles for loss, a sack and three quarterback hurries. The 6-2, 231-pound Lucas brings more than experience to the field, though. He is arguably the most knowledgeable line- backer in the unit. Lucas even runs the team meetings during the summer when the NCAA does not allow coaches to meet with the units. "Obviously he had a tough year last year with his knee, but he came back in spring ball with a vengeance," Tenuta noted. "He's like having a coach on the field. He's a tough guy. Hopefully his knee gets stronger and stronger. "I see a really good future for him and for us, and I see him being a coach someday." To that end, Tenuta helped keep Lucas involved with the team last year by having him sit in the coaches' box during games. "Instead of not being able to do any- thing, you want to be a coach someday, Pos. Ht. Wt. Yr. Hometown (Last School) LB 6-2 210 R-Fr. Harrisburg, N.C. (Hickory Ridge) LB 6-3 235 LB 6-2 222 So. Grayson, Ga. (Grayson) LB 6-3 216 So. LB 6-2 192 LB 6-0 220 Fr. LB 6-2 231 5th-Sr. Orangeburg, S.C. (Wilkinson) LB 6-1 205 R-Fr. LB 6-3 210 So. LB 6-0 210 R-Fr. Sr. Jr. Sanford, N.C. (Lee County) Raleigh (Sanderson) Raleigh (Leesville Road) Macon, Ga. (Westside) Sr. Chocowinity, N.C. (Clover Hill) Fayetteville, N.C. (Jack Britt) LB 6-2 240 R-Jr. High Point, N.C. (High Point Central) LB 6-1 235 5th-Sr. Mastic Beach, N.Y. (Coastal Carolina) LB 6-0 227 LB 6-4 220 LB 6-1 231 R-Jr. LB 6-3 230 Jr. Fr. Everett, Mass. (Millford Academy) Raleigh (Leesville Road) here's how it works," Tenuta said. "He's a coach on the field anyway, now he's got a different perspective. He sees what we see as coaches, and he did a great job with it. You can ask him, it helped him." Tenuta added that Lucas would have been the next guy in line at linebacker after his core group of five before he hurt his knee. The rest of the unit are young play- ers working their way onto the field for the first time. In the Kay Yow Spring Game, sopho- more Rodman Noel (6-3, 210), a converted safety, and redshirt junior Rickey Dowdy (6-2, 240) lined up on the first string. Noel played strictly special teams last year, and Dowdy has one career snap from defense to his credit, when he was a redshirt fresh- man in the season opener against Western Carolina. Both, however, showed potential to Tenuta. "[Noel] has some abilities," Tenuta ob- served. "He's obviously never been in the fray yet. Learned now how to play closer to the line of scrimmage. Got to become a more effective blitzer. He has coverage skills because he was a DB, but I see tre- mendous upside for him in the future." Dowdy's journey at NC State included rededicating himself in the classroom and then finally finding a home in the defense when Tenuta took him in at linebacker last fall. "This spring, he took the bull by the horns and really since the last month of the season, last year, into the spring has tried to make himself into a really good football player, and he's really working success- fully in that aspect," Tenuta said. "Again, never been in the fray, so we'll see what happens going into the fall. He's done a good job." A pair of sophomores that got onto the field last season as true freshmen bring athleticism to the mix. Michael Peek (6-2, 222) also plays with a reckless abandon. "Michael is a young man that's gung-ho, Twentynine Palms, Calif. (College of the Desert) Lancaster, Ohio (Lancaster) Raleigh (Broughton) 100 percent, let's go get them, tries to blow everything up," Tenuta noted. "Another kid with tremendous upside. He runs well, he's tough. The game is a little bit fast for him right now. He's trying to catch up to that as- pect of it. [He's a] special teams guy in the fray, learning the game, got to play faster." Brandon Pittman (6-3, 216), like Peek, played mainly special teams in 2011. Peek had seven tackles last year, including a late sack against Clemson, while Pittman had a hit against Georgia Tech. Pittman, though, backer with 86 tackles in 36 career games. PHOTO BY KEN MARTIN Fifth-year senior Sterling Lucas missed last season with a knee injury, but he is still by far NC State's most experienced option at line-

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Wolfpacker - July 2012