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Pack in the Pros

Ikem Ekwonu Named Carolina Panthers Starter at Left Tackle

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Former NC State Left Tackle Ikem Ekwonu was selected by the Carolina Panthers with 6th overall pick in the NFL Draft this summer, and they are officially planning to start him at Left Tackle when the season begins.

In the Panthers first preseason game against the Commanders this past weekend, Ekwonu didn’t get the start, Brady Christensen did, who finished last season as the starter at Left Tackle. Carolina Head Coach Matt Rhule said after practice yesterday that he wanted Ekwonu to get in some game action and earn the starting spot.

“We wanted Ickey to play and put him on tape in a game before we put him with the 1’s, and then earn the spot with his play,” Rhule said. “He played well in the game, so these were valuable reps for him.”

Yesterday the Panthers had a joint practice with the Panthers, and Ickey was running with the 1st team offense. When Panther’s Head Coach Matt Rhule was asked if the plan was for Ekwonu to continue on as the starting Left Tackle, he responded with:

“That’s where we are moving forward.” (Link)

When asked about it, Ickey believed that he had earned the spot, and plans on working to keeping it.

“(It) feels like I’ve finally been able to earn my way into that spot,” Ekwonu said. “I look forward to continuing in that role and doing the best I can to keep that spot.”

 

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’s DJ Burns Has Lost 45 Pounds In Preparation for the NBA Draft

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NC State’s DJ Burns has lost 45 pound over the past 6 weeks in preparation for the 2024 NBA Draft, and he wants to make sure people know he didn’t need Ozempic to do it. Burns has been working out 4 days a week at 5am.

Recently, Burns had a predraft workout with the Los Angeles Lakers.

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Former NC State Punter Trenton Gill Signs with Denver

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Former NC State Punter Trenton Gill has signed with the Denver Broncos after he was released by the Bears this offseason.

Gill was drafted by Chicago in the 7th round of the 2022 NFL Draft, and has averaged 46.1 yards per punt through his first two NFL seasons.

Heading into the 2024 season, Gill will compete with Riley Dixon for the starting Punter job. Dixon was the Broncos’ starter in 2023, averaging 46.3 yards per punt.

Gill’s career average of 45.8 yards per punt in college is the best in NC State history. In 2019, Gill averaged 47.6 yards per punt, which led the ACC, and earned him a spot on the All-ACC Third Team. In 2021, he was on the All-ACC 1st Team. All 3 of his seasons as NC State’s Punter rank in the Top-6 in school history for best punting average in a single season.

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Former NC State G Lorenzo Brown Named to All-EuroLeague 2nd Team

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Former NC State Guard Lorenzo Brown was named to the All-EuroLeague 2nd Team.

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Lorenzo Brown, Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv

After injuries sapped Lorenzo Brown of his best form during the regular season, the Maccabi playmaker snapped back to health just in time and, as one of the stars of the postseason, has been recognized by the voters his second consecutive All-EuroLeague Team selection. Brown was the MVP of the Play-In Showdown after he erupted for 29 points on 7-for-8 three-point shooting – both Maccabi postseason records – plus 5 assists against Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz to send Maccabi to the playoffs. He then led the Israeli champs with 17.2 points and 5.8 assists for a PIR of 19.2 in the five-game series against Panathinaikos. Brown ranked third in scoring for the playoffs, with 17.2 points per game, and was third for the full season in assists with 6.1. (Link)

This is the 2nd time that Brown has earned All-EuroLeague status, earning 1st Team honors in 2022-23.

Brown plays for Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv in Israel, and this was his 2nd season with the squad.

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NC State is Tied for the 2nd Most Defensive Tackles in the NFL

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ProFootballFocus released this infographic this week, revealing which College Football Teams had the most Defensive Tackles on NFL rosters, and NC State was tied for 2nd with 7.

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Defensive Tackles on NFL Rosters who Played at NC State

B.J. Hill – Bengals (2018-23) – Career Stats: 285 Tackles, 22 TFL’s and 20.5 Sacks
Justin Jones – Cardinals (2018-23) – Career Stats: 219 Tackles, 34 TFL’s and 12 Sacks
Alim McNeil – Lions (2021-23) – Career Stats: 112 Tackles, 15 TFL’s and 8 Sacks
Kentavius Street – Falcons (2019-23) – Career Stats: 89 Tackles, 17 TFL’s and 7.5 Sacks
T.Y. McGill – 49ers (2015-23) – Career Stats: 45 Tackles, 10 TFL’s and 5.5 Sacks
Larrell Murchison – Rams (2020-23) – Career Stats: 37 Tackles, 5 TFL’s and 2 Sacks
Cory Durden – Rams (2023) – Career Stats: 3 Tackles

All 7 of the above players played regular season games for an NFL team in 2023. We will have to see how many of the 7 make 53-man rosters this Fall.

Junior Wolfpack Nose Tackle Brandon Cleveland tweeted with confidence that he will be #8 sometime soon.

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