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Your experience as a college football player can teach you many things and help shape you to be the person that you’re going to become.  Former NC State running back Toney Baker learned a lot about hard work and perseverance during his time at NC State.  He came in as one of the highest recruits that the school has ever seen, with extremely high expectations.  What ensued was Baker missing nearly two entire seasons because of injury.  Baker ultimately played three seasons for NC State and finished with 2,045 rushing yards (12th all-time at NC State) and 17 touchdowns (11th all-time), before deciding to forego his final year of eligibility (6th) to pursue his professional career.  Baker went undrafted, but was picked up by the Denver Broncos.

“It was a phenomenal experience.  I had a really good camp.  I was released sometime in August or September,” said Baker. “They tried to get me out to Canada to meet with some specialist, because we found out I had a couple herniated discs in my back.  With all of my knee surgeries, I just knew in my gut, it was time to make a move.  Even if I was to have the surgery, long-term I just didn’t feel like it was there for me.”

After working as a recruiter in Raleigh for 5 years, Baker and has now moved down to South Carolina, and is now the Assistant Director at Grand Strand Medical Center in South Carolina, where he manages all of the day to day environmental services of the hospital, and manages a staff of 40 people.

“It’s great.  I stay very busy.  It’s an intense job, but I love it,” said Baker.  “It’s been really good for me.  I’m married, with two little girls.  I’m a family man and a working man.  Life is good.”

Baker said that being a college football player at NC State was instrumental in preparing him to go into the workforce.

“It gave me a lot of structure and it also took away all the excuses.  As a student athlete you have a lot of tasks that seem impossible to get done.  They just have to get done.  Period.  I try to take that mentality to my professional life now,” said Baker.  “When things need to get done, you find a way to get them done.  Failure isn’t an option.  You have to find a way to make it work.  That attitude that was shaped in me as a college athlete, has worked really well for me professionally.  Playing college football at NC State helped develop an intense work ethic in me, and that’s carried over into my professional career, and it’s taken me a long way.”

Whether a college athlete plays professionally afterwards doesn’t determine whether or not they are successful. That is determined by how they apply the things they learned from their collegiate experience, wherever it takes them.  Congratulations Toney Baker!  You’re a success.

Matthew is Publisher and Co-Owner of Pack Insider. He is also the Lead Pastor of The Point Church in Cary, NC.

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Pack in the Pros

Should Former NC State All-American Catcher Patrick Bailey be an NL All-Star?

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Former NC State All-American Catcher Patrick Bailey is having a great 2nd season in the Majors.

Bailey is batting .286 this season, which is a vast improvement to his .233 average as a Rookie last year. He already has 5 Home Runs in roughly half the at-bats as last season, when he hit 7. His plate discipline has improved, striking out less and walking more. Bailey is on pace to strike out around 30 times less than last year, and is 1 Walk away from tying his total from last year.

Despite not having flashy offensive numbers in 2023, Bailey made a name for himself behind the plate. He currently ranks 1st in the National League in Framing, 2nd in Putouts and 2nd in Pop Time.

Overall, he has the 3rd highest WAR (Wins Above Replacement) of any Catcher in the National League.

As things currently stand, Bailey doesn’t rank in the Top-5 in All-Star voting, but it’s criminal that Sean Murphy (Braves) and J.T. Realmuto (Phillies) have so many more votes.

Last year, 3 catchers made the All-Star team, so Go Vote for Bailey!

 

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Pack in the Pros

Former NC State Running Back Ricky Person Signs with the Seattle Seahawks

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After leading the UFL in Rushing Touchdowns this past season, former NC State Running Back Ricky Person has signed with the Seattle Seahawks.

Person joins former High School (Heritage High School) and College (NC State) teammate Drake Thomas (LB) in Seattle.

After rushing for 1,979 yards and 14 touchdowns at NC State, Person went undrafted, but signed as an Undrafted Free Agent with the Baltimore Ravens, but was eventually waived due to an undisclosed injury.

For the past two seasons, Person has played for the Birmingham Stallions, which was in the USFL in 2023, and the UFL this past season. In 2023, he only rushed the ball 14 times, but this past season, he rushed for 297 yards and 6 touchdowns, and also had 150 receiving yards. This year, Person was elemental in helping lead the Stallions to the USFL 2024 Championship.

 

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Pack in the Pros

Former NC State All-American SS Trea Turner Picks Up 2 Hits in Return from IL

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Former NC State All-American Shortstop Trea Turner returned from the Injured List last night, going 2 for 5 from the plate with 1 Run.

Turner has been out since early May with a hamstring strain (missing 38 games), but prior to injury, he was playing about as good as anyone in the league. He is batting .345.

As of yesterday, Turner is 2nd in the National League in All-Star voting for Shortstops, trailing only Mookie Betts, who is running away with 1st place. He has made the All-Star team twice before (2021, 2022)

Turner was a 2-time All-American at NC State. In 2012, Turner was named 3rd Team All-American by NCBWA, and in 2013 he was named 2nd Team by Collegiate Baseball, and 3rd Team by NCBWA and Baseball America.

His 113 career stolen bases at NC State are the most in school history. Turner was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 1st Round with the 13th overall pick in the 2014 MLB Draft.

Trea is easily the best Major League batter to ever come out of NC State. Out of all the Wolfpack players to make it to the MLB, he ranks 1st in Hits (1,252), Runs (716), Doubles (236), Home Runs (152), RBI’s (519), Stolen Bases (270) and Walks (322).

 

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NC State Basketball

DJ Burns talks keys to recent weight loss during Pre-Draft Workout with Pacers

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Pack fans have been wondering how after 2 years in Raleigh, DJ Burns finally figured out how to drop weight, and keep it off. He spoke to reporters during his pre-draft workout with the Pacers.

“Playing at the pace we played today. Doing the work we did today. I probably would have left out with a full body cramp a couple months ago.”

“Keep on improving my pace. Adjusting to the level and speed I’m going to have to play at, at all times.”

“Lots of running. Lots of figuring out which foods I can no longer have, which were almost all of them that I liked. So, just finding new ones that I do like that go along with the plan.”

“This is the third (workout), and I actually travel to Milwaukee tomorrow to workout with the Bucks. And then some more stuff being confirmed that I won’t speak on just yet.”

Burns has worked out for the Lakers, Pacers and Hornets up to this point.

Plus more…

Listen to the full interview above.

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