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Nate Irving loved playing football in Carter-Finley Stadium as a member of the Wolfpack.  In fact, he still can’t wait for football to begin in Carter-Finley Stadium.  Check out his tweet from earlier today:

Tomorrow a lot of players will run out of the tunnel for the very first time.  On the other side of the coin, tomorrow will be the last “first game of the season” some players will ever have in Raleigh.  Players will be filled with excitement and nerves.

Looking back, Irving remembers the nerves of his very first game for the Wolfpack, and what he remembers was panic, instead of a majority of the plays in the playbook.

“The first time I was suiting up for a college game I was so nervous.  I forgot about half of the playbook,” said Irving.  “All I could think about was “hit them before they hit you”…and “don’t get ran over.”
Every player has a different routine before they hit the field.  They will listen to whatever music works for them, but when there is three minutes till kickoff, the red lights will turn on in the locker room, and the white lights will go off.  Silence will fill the room and focus is the only thing on the menu for three minutes.  Irving remembers what it was like to focus prior to running out on the field, literally day-dreaming of the other teams plans.
“Before every game I made sure I stretched with teammate Bobby Floyd,” said Irving. “After the stretch, I would leave and go sit down and just think about things that other coaches might try to do to our defense, and envision myself making plays.”
The Wolfpack only has 11 Seniors running out on the field tomorrow night, and Irving remembers all of the emotions that came with the knowledge that this was the beginning of his final season.
“The first game of my last season was a special one.  I missed the year before because of my car accident so I didn’t know what to expect,” said Irving.  “I was nervous if I was still going to be able to run and tackle?  Would my leg hold up?  Is my lung ok?  It was a very emotional time for me.”
Last season NC State came out of the gate and almost lost to Georgia Southern.  If it wasn’t for a 35-yard touchdown pass from Jacoby Brissett to Matt Dayes with under two-minutes to play, the Wolfpack would have walked out of Week 1 with a loss.  Some players have a hard time getting up for the Troy’s of the world, and live for the hype of the big opponent.  That was never a problem for Irving.
“I approached every game the same.  I was a leader during my time and I would feel like I cheated myself and my teammates and coaches if I didn’t prepare the same…week in and week out,” said Irving. “To me, it wasn’t about who we were playing.  It was about making sure we were ready for anybody we faced.”

Matthew is Co-Owner of Pack Insider. He writes for all sports, with a focus on football and recruiting, and is in charge of business strategy. He is an NC State alum who majored in business. Matthew is also the lead pastor of The Point Church in Cary, NC.

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Pack in the Pros

2 NC State Players Were Invited to the 2024 NFL Combine

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Yesterday, the NFL released the names of the 321 prospects invited to the 2024 NFL Combine, and Linebacker Payton Wilson and Center Dylan McMahon made the cut.

Wilson was a Unanimous All-American, the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, 1st Team All-ACC and won the Butkus and Nagurski Awards. McMahon earned All-ACC Honorable Mention this year.

Also, Long Snapper Joe Shimko’s has been invited to a Specialists Showcase at the end of the Combine.

Shimko was named the best Long Snapper in College Football this season.

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Pack in the Pros

Where is NC State’s Payton Wilson Landing in Mock Drafts?

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Former NC State Linebacker Payton Wilson won the Butkus and Nagurski Awards this season, and is primed to be one of the top Linebacker’s taken in the 2024 NFL Draft. With the Draft Order set after the end of the Super Bowl, where is the former Wolfpack Linebacker projecting to land in the 2024 NFL Draft.

ProFootballFocus – 2nd Round – #41 – Green Bay Packers
PlayerProfiler – 2nd Round – #53 – Miami Dolphins
33rd Team – 3rd Round – #67 – Washington Commanders
NFL.com – 3rd Round – #78 – Philadelphia Eagles
Tankathon – 3rd Round – #82 – Indianapolis Colts
DraftWire – 3rd Round – #84 – Pittsburgh Steelers
FanSided – 3rd Round – #87 – Dallas Cowboys
The Athletic – 3rd Round – #97 – Philadelphia Eagles

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Pack in the Pros

2 Former NC State Football Players Take Home Super Bowl Rings

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Two former NC State Football players took home Super Bowl rings last night: Offensive Guard Joe Thuney and Wide Receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling.

Unfortunately, Thuney was unable to play last night due to a pectoral injury, but Valdes-Scantling did catch a touchdown.

Valdes-Scantling finished with 3 receptions for 20 yards and a touchdown.

Thuney has now broken his tie with Center Jim Ritcher, becoming the NC State football player with the most Super Bowl appearances, and Valdes-Scantling is tied for 3rd. Thuney has been to 5 Super Bowls in 8 seasons.

Joe Thuney – 5
Jim Ritcher – 4
Marquez Valdes-Scantling – 2
Mike Cofer – 2
Perry Williams – 2
Mike Jones – 2
Torry Holt – 2
Russell Wilson – 2
J.R. Sweezy – 2
Steven Hauschka – 2
(Bill Cowher – 2 – as a head coach)

Thuney now has 4 Super Bowl rings, which is tied for the 3rd most by a player in NFL history. Valdes-Scantling has 2.

NC State Players with the Most Super Bowl Rings

Offensive Guard Joe Thuney – 4
Wide Receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling – 2
Place Kicker Mike Cofer  – 2
Cornerback Perry Williams – 2

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Pack in the Pros

Joe Thuney’s 5 Super Bowl Appearances is the Most by an NC State Player

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Former All-American Offensive Lineman Joe Thuney is heading to his 5th Super Bowl in 8 NFL Seasons. Unfortunately, Thuney isn’t expected to play tomorrow due to a pectoral injury.

Thuney has now broken his tie with Center Jim Ritcher, becoming the NC State football player with the most Super Bowl appearances.

Joe Thuney – 5
Jim Ritcher – 4
Mike Cofer – 2
Perry Williams – 2
Mike Jones – 2
Torry Holt – 2
Russell Wilson – 2
J.R. Sweezy – 2
Steven Hauschka – 2
(Bill Cowher – 2 – as a head coach)

Thuney also holds the record for the most Super Bowl rings by a former NC State football player with 3, and has a chance to pick up his 4th tomorrow. Place Kicker Mike Cofer and Cornerback Perry Williams are the only other former Wolfpack football players to win 2 Super Bowls.

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