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Pack in the Pros

Julius Hodge: The Interview (2009)

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Where is Julius Hodge? Since starting out this site a year ago, there is not a question that we have been asked more often. Believe us, we tried our best to track down the NC State great, but Hodge has been all over the world chasing his dream. We finally caught up with him last weekend and he was certainly excited to get to have a little contact with his favorite fans, the Wolfpack fans. The 6’7 Harlem native, came to Raleigh in 2001 and helped turn a program with a faint pulse into a sweet 16, national contender. Hodge was a fan favorite, with his quick wit and his allegiance to NC State he was loved by his teammates, NC State fans, and anyone else who had a chance to hear him speak or watch him play. After he graduated, he was the 20th selection in the 2005 NBA draft by the Denver Nuggets. After being traded to the Bucks in 2007 and dropped soon after, Hodge started on a worldwide journey to achieve his dreams of being a star in the NBA. From the NBDL, to France, to Australia, and hopefully soon, back to the states, Julius Hodge hasn’t let anything or anyone stop him from getting to where he wants to go. We spoke to Julius about his journey, his life outside of basketball and NC State. So, without further ado, here is our conversation with NC State legend, Julius Hodge.

PI: So, what have you been up to these last few years since you left NC State?

JH: This past year, actually I finished up in France. Then got invited to sumer camp with the Bulls, and that didn’t work out. They basically told me that they wanted to play their younger guys and that I wouldn’t have played much so I decided against it. Since then I’ve really tried to stay hidden from the NBA and polish up my game so I can come back strong. Right now I’m in Australia again playing for the Melbourne Tigers.

PI: You had such a dominant college career but haven’t yet been able to break into the NBA, what do the NBA scouts tell you that you need to do in order to get that break?

JH: Work on my jumper. That’s really it. It’s been the same thing everytime. So right now I’m really working hard with my shooting coach here and have polished up my jumper. I’ve always been able to do the other stuff and have tried to be a good leader. I like working with the younger guys and helping them reach their potential.

PI: You have a new blog launching in the next few days. I know the Wolfpack fans are happy, but what made you decide to start one up and what are your goals with it?

JH: Oh yea, right now the blog is almost ready to launch. I’m just putting a few more updates on it and some more video and stuff. I think it’s a good way to keep people updated on what I’m doing and it gives me a way to interact with the fans. I have a lot of things, like workouts and shooting videos on there. It gives me a way to showcase my new jumper haha.

PI: What are your goals going forward, basketball wise?

JH: I definitely want to work back to the NBA and back to the states. I feel like with my skill set, it’s where I need to be. I know the 1 thing is my shooting and I’m definitely putting in the efforts to get back.

PI: What are your goals gong forward, outside of basketball?

JH: Well, right now, during the Christmas season especially, I think giving back to less fortune is really important. Trying to give kids a good Christmas. Some kids miss out, or don’t know what a real Christmas can be like, so I try to help whenever I can. I’ve always believed that looking out for one another is real important. I think it’s the way everyone should be.

I also am very involved with the African education initiative. Every summer we go to the Congo and help the children build schools and get books. It’s really a great program. We also help them create solar energy and try to do different things to help them grow.

PI: That’s really incredible! I doubt many people knew you were involved with that. Now, something people did know you were involved with is NC State University. You spend four very successful years there. Can you talk about your time there and what NC State means to you?

JH: Oh man NC State means the world to me. It really helped mold me to the man I am today. It was easily the most fun 4 years of my life. Great times, great people. I still have great friends there. I love the Pack I want to come back and be the head coach of the Pack one day. Of course, my daughter will be playing tennis there and some basketball too.

PI: So your daughter is a tennis player? That’s interesting. How’d she get into that?

JH: Haha. Oh yeah, oh yeah. She’ll just do whatever daddy does. If she sees me playing tennis she’ll play tennis, but she sees me playing basketball a lot so of course she wants to do that too. I actually took a karate class with her. I mean she’ll just do whatever daddy is doing haha.

PI: Talk a little about what it’s been like becoming a father?

JH: Man, becoming a dad is the one of greatest feelings ever. You don’t think u could love anyone as much as you love your mom, but then this little person comes into your life and I love her more than anything.

PI: Do you still keep up with any former players?

JH: Oh yeah. Mostly I keep up with the guys that are still around NC State, Tony Bethel, Jordan Collins, Levi Watkins, me and Levi are real close and Engin Atsur, but he’s still in Turkey playing. Oh and my man Will Roach of course.

PI: Being all the way on the other side of the world, are you still able to keep up with the Wolfpack?

JH: Oh of course. I mean, I have to keep up with the Pack. Since I’ve left I’ve gotten to see a lot of the games on TV. I have “The Sling Box” on my laptop, so I have all my cable channels wherever I go. This year I’ve been really busy and haven’t really gotten a chance to see the team. How are we looking?

PI: They’re actually looking pretty good. They lost to a good Northwestern team that I could really see making the tournament, and then beat a Marquette team that was pretty heavily favored. They might not have the most talent in the ACC, but you’d be hard pressed to find a team that plays harder then they do.

JH: Oh ok. That’s what’s up! They beat Marquette, huh? I’m definitely going to have to catch the next game.

PI: So Julius, you had a lot of bigtime plays and big moments in yoru career. What would you say this most memorable is?

JH: Oh wow. Man, this is a hard one. Off the top of my head I’d have to say my freshman year, the shot against Maryland in the acc tournament that I hit. The game where I was feeling the best, I mean, I could easily say UCONN but I expected us to win that game so much, that it wasn’t a surprise to me. Maybe, when we beat UVA my freshman year when they had Roger Mason and that loaded team. Man, I really don’t know. There’s so many it’s hard to pick just one out.

PI: You’ve been all over the world these past few years. How hard has it been to get acclimated and adjust to each new culture and country?

JH: Oh man, in Europe it was tough because of the language barrier. Plenty times, I mean plenty of times, I’m eating steak or chicken and it’s real good, but then later I find out I’m eating rabbit. Haha. That kept happening. . Australia is easier because everyone speaks English. Everyone’s nice and they fall in love with the American culture for sure.

PI: How have you been accepted in Australia? Do you have the same type of popularity that you had at NC State?

JH: Haha. Well yeah, they show a lot of love over here. Not from my ex-team the the 36ers, but yeah, I’m probably the most notable players over here so they show a lot of love.

PI: Where do you see yourself after basketball?

JH: I see myself coaching. I want to just grow old and see myself, wherever I go, take the youngest player and be a tutor and help him along the way. Help the younger guys be better as basketball players but also better as humans.

PI: And where do you see yourself coaching?

JH: Oh, NC State baby…I still bleed that Wolfpack red! You know I have to!

PI: Haha, well thanks so much Julius! We really appreciate you taking time out of your day to catch up with us. Is there anything you want to leave the Woflpack fans with?

JH: Wolfpak fans,
I love you guys and I always will. Keep supporting our young team. We are young but we got some great players and we’re going to make a run for it this year!

**We’d like to thank Julius for taking the time to talk with us and wish him the best of luck in achieving all his goals in basketball and in life.

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Pack in the Pros

Former NC State Punter AJ Cole Added to AFC Pro Bowl Roster

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Former NC State Punter AJ Cole has been named to the Pro Bowl for the 2nd consecutive year. He was added to the roster because Chiefs Punter Tommy Townsend is headed to the Super Bowl.

Cole is one of three former Wolfpack football players to be named to the Pro Bowl in 2022, joining Joe Thuney and Bradley Chubb.

Cole ranked 4th in the NFL (and the AFC) in yards per punt in 2022, averaging 48.9 yards per punt.

This marks the 2nd time that Cole has made the Pro Bowl. Cole is 1 of 15 former NC State players to make the Pro Bowl, and 1 of 13 to earn the honor more than once.

QB Russell Wilson – 9 (2012, ‘13, ‘14, ‘15, ‘17, ‘18, ‘19, ‘20, ‘21)
QB Philip Rivers – 8 (2006, ‘09, ‘10, ‘11, ‘13, ‘16, ‘17, ‘18)
WR Torry Holt – 7 (2000, ‘01 ‘03, ‘04, ‘05, ‘07, ‘08)
S Adrian Wilson – 5 (2006, ‘08, ‘09, ‘10, ‘11)
WR Mike Quick – 5 (1984, ‘85, ‘86, ‘87, ‘88)
DE Mario Williams – 4 (2008, ‘09, ‘13, ‘14)
LB Vaughan Johnson – 4 (1990, ‘91, ‘92, ‘93)
QB Roman Gabriel – 3 (1967, ‘68, ‘69)
WR Haywood Jeffires – 3 (1992, ‘93, ‘94)
OG Darrell Dess – 2 (1962, ‘63)
FB Alex Webster – 2 (1958, ’61)
LB Bradley Chubb – 2 (2020, ’22)
P AJ Cole III – 2 (2021, ’22)
OG Joe Thuney – 1 (2022)
C Jim Ritcher – 1 (1992)

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Former NC State All-American Bradley Chubb Added to Pro Bowl

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Former NC State All-American Bradley Chubb has been added to the AFC Pro Bowl roster to replace an injured Khalil Mack. Chubb is one of three former Wolfpack football players to be named to the Pro Bowl in 2022, joining Joe Thuney and AJ Cole.

Chubb finished the season with 39 tackles, 8 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 5 tackles for loss and 20 QB Hits, playing 8 games with the Broncos and 8 games with the Dolphins in 2022.

This marks the 2nd time that Chubb has made the Pro Bowl. Chubb is 1 of 15 former NC State players to make the Pro Bowl, and 1 of 13 to earn the honor more than once.

QB Russell Wilson – 9 (2012, ‘13, ‘14, ‘15, ‘17, ‘18, ‘19, ‘20, ‘21)
QB Philip Rivers – 8 (2006, ‘09, ‘10, ‘11, ‘13, ‘16, ‘17, ‘18)
WR Torry Holt – 7 (2000, ‘01 ‘03, ‘04, ‘05, ‘07, ‘08)
S Adrian Wilson – 5 (2006, ‘08, ‘09, ‘10, ‘11)
WR Mike Quick – 5 (1984, ‘85, ‘86, ‘87, ‘88)
DE Mario Williams – 4 (2008, ‘09, ‘13, ‘14)
LB Vaughan Johnson – 4 (1990, ‘91, ‘92, ‘93)
QB Roman Gabriel – 3 (1967, ‘68, ‘69)
WR Haywood Jeffires – 3 (1992, ‘93, ‘94)
OG Darrell Dess – 2 (1962, ‘63)
FB Alex Webster – 2 (1958, ’61)
LB Bradley Chubb – 2 (2020, ’22)
P AJ Cole III – 2 (2021, ’22)
OG Joe Thuney – 1 (2022)
C Jim Ritcher – 1 (1992)

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Former NC State WR Jakobi Meyers is Positioned for a Big Pay Day this Offseason

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Former NC State Wide Receiver Jakobi Meyers has set himself up well to get a big pay day this offseason.

Meyers led the Patriots in receiving yards (804) and touchdown receptions (6) in 2022, and ranked 2nd on the team in receptions (67) behind Running Back Rhamondre Stevenson (69). In 2021, he led New England in receptions (83) and receiving yards (866). In 2020, Meyers did the same thing with 59 receptions for 729 yards.

This year, Meyers was given the Ed Block Courage Award by the Pats as the player on the roster that most exemplified courage, sportsmanship, professionalism and dedication.

Pats head coach Bill Belichick had this to say about Meyers:

“Well he’s a tough kid, mentally, physically,” Bill Belichick said of Meyers on January 6. “He’s shown a lot of leadership and competitiveness like he always does. So, yeah, I’m glad we have him. Glad he’s out there. I know he’s had to fight through some things, so have a lot of other guys. But he’s done a good job of that.” (link)

If it were up to Meyers, he’d like to resign with New England.

Meyers has been one of the best homegrown receivers in Patriots history. His 2,758 receiving yards is the 2nd most by a player in their first 4 years in the league in New England, trailing only the legendary Tight End Rob Gronkowski.

Consider the fact that Meyers signed with the Pats as an undrafted free agent in 2019, and that stat becomes much more impressive.

Through 4 seasons, already ranks in the Top-10 in NC State history in both receptions (9th) and receiving yards (8th).

Meyers was paid $3.986 million this season on a 1-year deal, but he could be looking to make something more in line with $18 million annually, which is the deal that Christian Kirk signed with the Jags this past offseason.

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PackPros: Recapping NFL Wild Card Weekend

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The Wild Card round of the 2023 NFL Playoffs was last weekend, and — former NC State football players were represented.

Linebacker Germaine Pratt had 8 tackles and 1 pass breakup in the Bengals 24-17 victory over the Ravens. His teammate, Defensive Tackle B.J. Hill had 5 tackles, 1 sack, 1 tackle for loss and 1 QB Hit.

Pratt was a big part of causing Baltimore Quarterback Tyler Huntley to fumble it on the goal line, that led to a 98-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Cincy’s Sam Hubbard.

Linebacker Bradley Chubb had 1 sack in the Dolphins 31-34 loss to the Bills.

Running Back Nyheim Hines returned 2 kickoffs for an average of 28 yards, and returned 3 punts for an average of 5.7 yards in the Bills’ 34-31 victory over the Dolphins. He also had 1 reception for 7 yards.

Cornerback Nick McCloud had 2 tackles in the Giants 31-23 win over the Giants.

 

Defensive Tackle T.Y. McGill didn’t record any stats in the 49ers 41-23 win over the Seahawks, but he did play in 19 snaps.

Center Garrett Bradbury returned from injury, and played 100% of the snaps in Minnesota’s 24-31 loss to New York.

 

 

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