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Former NC State Fullback Taylor Gentry was one of the most physical players to wear the Wolfpack Red-and-White in quite some time.  After graduating from Leesville Road High School (Raleigh, NC), Gentry walked-on at NC State, the alma mater of both of his parents.  As a Freshman, Gentry caught 7 passes for 72 yards, and earned a scholarship in the offseason.  Gentry finished his career at NC State with 38 catches for 313 yards and 5 touchdowns, but he ultimately left his mark as one of the most ferocious special teams players in recent memory.  His physicality led the Kansas City Chiefs to sign him to a free agent deal after going undrafted in 2012, but ultimately didn’t make the final roster.  Shortly after, Gentry found himself working a corporate job in Greensboro, but before long he would find himself on a field again, but this time without a helmet.
“Three years ago when I got out of football, I began working a corporate job for a mechanic contracting company in Charlotte.  I moved to the Greensboro area to work that territory.  One night I was back visiting Raleigh shortly after I moved there, and my brother and I were hanging out in our basement with some former football players, as well as other friends,” said Gentry. “One of those football players was Scott Thompson, and his brother Eric Thompson was with us.  He was visiting from California to watch Scott play that weekend.  It turned out that Eric played rugby and I’ll never forget when he looked at me and said “Taylor you should play rugby man, you will kill it.”  Eric plays out on the West Coast and is very good.  He was an All-American from what I understand.  That night we talked about the odds of making it to the professional level if I did well and the odds of going overseas.  In my mind that night, I was thinking the odds of that ever happening were slim to none.”
Gentry can now look back and see that he beat the odds.  On July 29th, Gentry signed a deal with the Sharks, a professional Rugby team out of South Africa.
“Now looking back as I sit here in South Africa, it’s very surreal.  So after talking to Eric Thompson, and thinking to myself that I’m not ready to buy knickerbockers and play golf on Sunday afternoons…that night I got in contact with Greensboro’s local rugby team the Triad Dogs, began learning, playing, and now I have a profound love for the sport,” said Gentry. “Fast forward 3 years, after many other steps and contacts with other parties such as the NRFL…here I am in Durban, South Africa.”
It hasn’t taken long for Gentry to gain legendary status down in South Africa.  When you are given the nickname of the leader of the Transfomers, you know you are doing something right.
“From a rugby point of view the experience has been great.  From the initial arrival to the airport, getting escorted by the police and skipping customs, I was known as the “American” who has come to play rugby,” said Gentry. “Now after several matches competing for what is known here as the “Murray Cup” my nickname has changed to “Optimus Prime” by the players I have played with.  When the roster gets sent out, you won’t find Taylor anywhere on the list.  All you see is “Optimus.”   So far the best moments of the rugby matches I have played in have been the big hits I have laid on opponents and the boys in the crowd yelling USA, USA, USA on repeat for a solid two minutes.”
Gentry believes that his time at NC State prepared him well to take his athletic skills to the Rugby field.
“NC State football helped prepare me to play at a big level on a big stage, and being used to it.  Being at NC State and being an athlete in a regimented and specific routine is also something that prepared me.  It is very similar to what we are doing here with professional rugby and the schedules and training regimens we have,” said Gentry.  “It also helped me become used to the speed and intensity of a game being played by the best athletes in the country.  As far as physically, being at NC State, I learned how to prepare and train myself as a top tier athlete which transitioned to training for my short NFL stent and now rugby.”

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

NC State NBA 2024 Summer League Update: 7/18/24

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Last night, 3 former NC State players were in action in the 2024 Las Vegas NBA Summer League.

Jarkel Joiner was tied for the most points scored in the Hawks 87-86 loss to the Lakers, with 17 points in 24 minutes. Joiner was 6 of 12 from the field, and 4 of 7 from three. He also had 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals.

Mohamed Diarra shined in his first action in the Las Vegas Summer League, with 8 points in 11 minutes of play for the Lakers. He was 3 of 5 from the field, and 1 of 2 from three. Diarra also had 3 rebounds.

DJ Burns had 4 points in 8 minutes of play in the Cavs 96-85 loss to the Warriors. He was 2 of 3 from the field.

This evening, Diarra and the Lakers will play Burns and the Cavs at 9pm on ESPN.

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Pack in the Pros

NC State NBA 2024 Summer League Midweek Update

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Here’s a rundown of how the 6 former NC State Basketball players that are playing in the 2024 NBA Summer League have played over the past two days.

On Monday, Terquavion Smith had 7 points in 8 minutes of play, shooting 3 of 6 from the field, and 1 of 3 from three in Portland’s 97-95 win over the 76ers. Last night, Smith didn’t play in the Trail Blazers’ 82-80 win over the Wizards.

On Monday, Mohamed Diarra didn’t play in the Lakers’ 88-74 loss to the Celtics. Diarra has yet to see the court in the Las Vegas Summer League.

Last night, Dereon Seabron had 6 points and 5 rebounds in 19 minutes of play in the Bulls’ 85-77 loss to the Pistons. He was 3 of 5 from the field.

DJ Horne only played 6 minutes last night in the Spurs’ 90-85 win over the Pelicans, failing to score any points. He was 0-2 from the field.

Tonight, Diarra and the Lakers will play Jarkel Joiner and the Hawks at 9:30pm on ESPN.

DJ Burns and the Cavs will play Golden State at 10pm on ESPN+.

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Pack in the Pros

NBA 2024 Summer League Weekend 1: NC State Update

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NC State has 6 former players playing in the 2024 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas currently.

You can check out the recap from Day 1 (Friday) here.

Forward DJ Burns had 7 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and 1 block in Cleveland’s 112-81 win over the Bucks last night in 15 minutes of play. He was 3 of 5 from the field.

Guard Jarkel Joiner had 6 points, 3 assists and 1 rebound in Atlanta’s 79-76 loss to San Antonio in 14 minutes of play last night. He was 3 of 5 from the field.

Guard DJ Horne didn’t play on Saturday, but he had 7 points and 2 rebounds in the Spurs’ 79-76 win over the Hawks in 11 minutes of play last night. He was 2 of 7 from the field, and 1 of 4 from three.

On Saturday, Guard Terquavion Smith had 3 points, 1 rebound and 1 assists in 8 minutes of play in Portland’s 83-77 loss to San Antonio. He was 1 of 5 from the field, and 1 of 3 from three.

Guard Dereon Seabron didn’t play for the Bulls in either of their games on Saturday or Sunday.

Today’s Schedule

Terquavion Smith and the Blazers will play the 76ers at 8:30pm on ESPN+.

Mohamed Diarra and the Lakers will play the Celtics at 10:30pm on ESPN+.

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NC State Baseball

Cleveland Drafts NC State’s Jacob Cozart in the 2nd Round of the 2024 MLB Draft

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The Cleveland Guardians drafted NC State Junior Catcher Jacob Cozart in the 2nd Round of the 2024 MLB Draft, with the 48th overall pick.

Cozart earned All-American honors from D1Baseball, Baseball America and Perfect Game this year, as well as 1st Team All-ACC honors. He was 1 of 3 Finalists for the Buster Posey Award.

This season, Cozart hit .305 with 19 Home Runs. His OBP was .437, and his OPS was 1.038.

The last Wolfpack Catcher to be drafted this high was Patrick Bailey, who was taken in the 1st Round by the San Francisco Giants in the 2020 Draft, with the 13th overall pick.

Only 22 NC State players have been drafted in the 1st two rounds. Cozart is tied for the 17th highest drafted player in Wolfpack history.

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