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Pack in the Pros

Ryan Finley Talks Upcoming 1st NFL Start

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Former NC State All-ACC Quarterback Ryan Finley will start his first career NFL game as a Rookie on November 10th against the Ravens.

Here’s what Finley had to say to the media this week about the opportunity.

“I feel like I got good experience in the preseason,” Finley said as the cameras streamed him as the starter for the first time after Wednesday’s practice. “Obviously it’s a lot different. But those are some good plays that I can fall back on in my mind. I’ve got confidence in myself. I think I’m going to play well.”

“I hope to bring energy, bring some juice,” Finley said. “Do my best to be good in the pocket. Get the ball out on time. Extend plays. We’ve struggled a little bit into the red zone. Just hoping to find some ways to get some points.”

“I look up to Andy more than people will know,” Finley said. “He’s a really good dude. He’s a class act and he’s special to me. I look up to him a ton. I can’t imagine how hard this is for him. He texted me and said he has my back. That meant a lot to me.” (NFL)

Bengals’ Pro Bowl Receiver A.J. Green thinks extremely highly of Finley.

“I love Ryan, man. Ryan is a competitor. He wants to win. He has that edge,” Green said after Wednesday’s practice. “He has that leadership. It’s going to be a little different for him now. He’s young, so he doesn’t really understand the business side of this. So it’s probably a little awkward with him and Andy because him and Andy has a great relationship, but at the end of the day it’s a business and you have to take your emotion out of it sometime and just focus on the business part.” (NFL)

Pack in the Pros

Justin Gainey Named Associate Head Coach at Marquette

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Former NC State Point Guard Justin Gainey (1997-00) has been hired by Marquette as their Associate Head Coach, serving along head coach Steve Wojciechowski, the former Duke point guard.

“We are excited to welcome Justin and the Gainey family back to Marquette,” Wojciechowski said.  “Justin is one of the nation’s top rising coaches and his talents, ability to build meaningful relationships and myriad of experiences alongside some of the game’s best teachers will serve our program, and most importantly our players, incredibly well.” (Link)

This isn’t Gainey’s first stint at Marquette, serving as Director of Operations from 2014-17. The past two seasons, Gainey served as an Assistant Coach with Sean Miller at Arizona. Prior to that, he served as an Assistant Coach at Santa Clara for one season with his former head coach at NC State, Herb Sendek.

Gainey’s coaching career began at NC State, where he served as Director of Operations for three seasons (2006-09), and then he went on to work at Appalachian State and Elon as well.

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Dennis Smith Jr. Showing Love to Fayetteville in the Midst of Covid-19

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Former NC State Freshman of the Year Dennis Smith Jr. never forgets where he came from. The New York Knicks Point Guard is always showing love for Fayetteville, North Carolina.

According to Ian Begley, DSJ is providing food vouchers for 575 first responders at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, and 32 computers for local students in Fayetteville.

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Andrew Knizner Enters 2020 as the #6 Prospect in the Cardinals Organization

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Former NC State Catcher Andrew Knizner enters the 2020 season ranked as the #6 prospect in the Cardinals organization.

Knizner was drafted in the 7th round by St. Louis in 2016, and was called up for the 1st time to the Big Leagues last year, when Yadier Molina was placed on the disabled list.

The jump wasn’t an easy one, with Knizner hitting .226 in 18 games.

Despite some time in the Majors at the end of last season, Knizner will begin 2020 in Triple-A Memphis, where he has already played 83 games, hitting .283.

Cardinals legend Molina is back to full strength, and backup Matt Wieters was signed to a 1-year deal, meaning it’s not quite time for Knizner.

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Will Wilson Enters 2020 as the #10 Prospect in the Giants Organization

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Former NC State All-American Shortstop Will Wilson will is entering the 2020 baseball season ranked as the #10 prospect in the San Francisco Giants organization.

After being drafted by the Angels with the 15th overall pick in the MLB Draft last year, Wilson hit .275 in 46 games of Rookie ball with the Orem Owlz.

In December, the Angels traded him to the Giants.

In his final season at NC State, Wilson led the team with a .335 batting average, 20 doubles, 16 home runs and a .661 slugging percentage, and finished eighth all-time in career doubles (57) and homers (39), and ninth in total bases (409).

Wilson is the 3rd highest draft pick in NC State history, and only the 2nd batter to be drafted in the 1st round, alongside another shortstop who is currently in the league as well: Trea Turner.

According to MLB.com, Wilson is expected to make it to the Majors in 2022.

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