NC State Wolfpack: Three Things to be Thankful For

WINSTON SALEM, NC - NOVEMBER 18: Tight end Jaylen Samuels
WINSTON SALEM, NC - NOVEMBER 18: Tight end Jaylen Samuels /

In honor of the Thanksgiving holiday, Old North Banter will be addressing three things North Carolina’s teams are thankful for. First up, NC State.

The last Thursday in November marks the time of year to recognize what we have to give thanks for. The Tar Heel State’s teams are no exception. Before we go into our tryptophan-induced turkey comas, let’s go through our state’s teams and show what arguably these teams have to most to be thankful for, starting first with the NC State Wolfpack.

1. Kevin Keatts

Last season, Wolfpack nation clamored for Mark Gottfried’s dismissal as head basketball coach. Just as boisterously, the fans wanted Athletic Director Deborah Yow to hire NC State alumnus Archie Miller. Though those plans fell through, former UNCW head coach Kevin Keatts inked a deal shortly after the Seahawks exited the NCAA Tournament.

Since then, Keatts made his impact with the team upon stepping foot in Raleigh. He helped change the mentality and culture within the team in his short time thus far, and it’s paid off.

Keatts showed promise for the future before the first game tipped off with four four-star recruits for next season. Even more impactful, he’s already coached the team to a 5-0 start with its latest win coming against No. 2 Arizona.

It may be too soon to say the Wolfpack will have a great year in a jam-packed ACC. However, State fans should be excited moving forward with Keatts as head coach.

2. Bradley Chubb (and the defensive line)

There’s a reason the Wolfpack gave Bradley Chubb the same number as former NC State defensive end Mario Williams.

Chubb leads one of the nation’s best defensive fronts alongside B.J. Hill, Kentavius Street, and Justin Jones. Though Chubb remains the face of the line, the entire unit deserves credit for the Pack’s success.

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All four players entered this season with three years of experience under their belts. Though Hill, Street, and Jones already locked themselves onto the line, Chubb moved from linebacker to find his niche. It’s obviously paid off dividends for Chubb, now the team’s career sack leader.Hill and Jones deserve a great share of that praise.

The pair of defensive tackles allow Chubb and Street to surge around the edges. Street, a five-star recruit out of high school, is no slouch either. Despite Chubb getting much of the attention, Street provides a great deal of pressure to opposing quarterbacks. He’s also one of the strongest players on the team.

All four players will play their final game at Carter-Finley Stadium this Saturday against UNC. The tetrad are all likely to get selected in the upcoming NFL Draft. For now, the fans are thankful for their four years of defensive dominance.

3. Jaylen Samuels

Speaking of graduating seniors, no one on the Wolfpack offense is as dynamic in his four years as the State Swiss Army knife, Jaylen Samuels.

Though generally in games as an H-back, Samuels plays most positions outside of the offensive line, including tight end, running back, and wildcat quarterback. The Wolfpack already has several offensive weapons for Ryan Finley to work with. Samuels stands out as the most versatile option. It’s paid off for 45 total touchdowns, second in school history only to Ted Brown’s 51. In addition, a reception in Saturday’s game against the Tar Heels will give him 40 straight games with at least one catch, breaking a record he’s already tied with Jerricho Cotchery and Bryan Peterson.

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Many Wolfpack players deserved the third spot. Finley’s been impressive behind center. Torin Dorn Jr. provides consistent scoring for the basketball team. Even Markell Johnson has been impressive as State’s point guard thus far, already leading the ACC in assists per game. However, Samuels bolsters Dave Doeren’s football team like no other player. His impact will be remembered for years to come.