The long overdue Nate Irving appreciation entry

Pack Pride ran a feature on NC State linebacker, Nate Irving which created the perfect launching pad for us to run our long overdue appreciation entry regarding Irving’s incredible play this season. (Link to article)

The redshirt sophomore had 52 tackles last season in 11 games, including four starts at the end of the year. But he’s now showing that he was only scratching the surface of his potential. Through two games Irving has amassed 23 tackles, two interceptions and a fumble recovery. After his 13-tackle performance against William & Mary, Irving was tabbed the ACC’s Defensive Back of the Week, and it sounds like his hard work is paying off.

Irving has clearly been the Wolfpack’s break-out star of 2008 and is leading a defense that seems to have finally turned around one of the program’s biggest deficiencies in recent years – an ability to create turnovers.

In light of the inexplicable rash of injuries that NC State has suffered in the last 14 months we almost ran a facetious entry last week asking our readers to pick what point in the William & Mary game that Nate Irving would get injured since that was the next worst thing that could happen to our program. When Irving was carried off the field with what appeared to be an injury in the first half on Saturday night I almost left the game to go cry. Thank God he came back.

Irving is leading a resurgence at the linebacker position that has historically been a strength of the NC State football program. The Wolfpack was been blessed with great linebacker play for decades before a recent dearth of talent and depth turned the strength into a weakness. To understand what has happened to this position you need look no further than the stories of how Wendell Murphy had to forcefully cram Nate Irving (from Wallace Rose-Hill) down Chuck Amato’s throat to compel the former Wolfpack head coach to offer Irving a scholarship.

Irving’s emergence coincides with the solid play of the athletic Ray Michel and scrappy Robbie Leaonard this season; and the talented freshmen that were recruiting last year – Sterling Lucas, Terrell Manning, Dwayne Maddox, William Beasley – seem to point to continued improvement at linebacker for years to come.

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15 Responses to The long overdue Nate Irving appreciation entry

  1. Trip 09/10/2008 at 1:15 PM #

    Nate irving…. I love you.

  2. ChiefJoJo 09/10/2008 at 1:55 PM #

    Good post Statefans! So far, there’s no question in my mind that Nate is the best player on our team.

    I absolutely love watching him play. He seems to have the best instincts of any LBs since Stephen Tulloch. Both had that knack of always being around the ball. If he can keep up his play at a level close to this, we are talking 1st team All-ACC.

  3. Noah 09/10/2008 at 2:00 PM #

    Has Maddox played this year? I missed the last game.

  4. RabidWolf 09/10/2008 at 2:07 PM #

    Nate Irving…..ACC POY. Everyone else pales in comparison.

  5. DAMangum 09/10/2008 at 2:13 PM #

    Yeah, Maddox has played a few snaps. Nate Irving is truely a special player and is on the way to being a future first round pick in the draft. Hopefully he won’t leave next season and will stay for his senior year when we should have a formidable team. Irving is one of the guys that makes me excited to watch every game! Can’t wait to see him stick Spiller and Davis in the mouth this Saturday! GO PACK!

  6. ruffles31 09/10/2008 at 2:13 PM #

    Noah, yes Maddox has played in both games.

  7. Wigwam93 09/10/2008 at 2:37 PM #

    Please, let’s remember how fortunate we are to even have Nate. Ross Sykes, along with Mr. W Murphy, had to twist CTC’s arm to offer a scholly to Nate. Ross, who was tragically killed in a May 2006 auto accident, was a passionate proponate of the Wolfpack program and was a great ambassador for NC State. Without his effort and Mr. Murphy’s clout, someone else would be enjoying Nate right now. Thanks Ross; we still miss you.

  8. robopack 09/10/2008 at 2:37 PM #

    Nate resembles a cross between Lavar Fisher and Steven Tulloch to me. Flashy and Tuff. He could end up better than both though. It looks like he already defends the pass better than they did. Killer instincts!

  9. Ismael 09/10/2008 at 3:50 PM #

    Nate and Leonard are leading the team in tackles so far; cool. Actually i love the idea of the position Robbie Leonard plays…he’s faster than a true SLB, looks meaner than an SOB [ha, had to throw that in, he seems nice in interviews], and can definitely defend the run. But with the way teams are starting to use more spread offense formations, i think him at the position gives you more of a feel with a 3-4 but with the pass rushing of a true 4-3.

    Wasn’t Morgan (the older brother) the leading tackler last year, mostly cuz he was making tackles to save touchdowns and stop long runs. The change in the defense this year is really impressive; no matter what happens at clempson. Leroy Burgess and Keith Willis Jr., Rieskamp and McKeen have all been nice surprises so far.

  10. Greywolf 09/10/2008 at 3:50 PM #

    Not only Nate Irving is playing off the charts but also it is great to see former walk-on and currently second leading tackler, Robbie Leonard, playing so well. The coaches get a big assist on this one. Who would have thought Leonard would the the second leading tackler on the team? As great as Irving is and will be, one great player can’t do it by himself. OLs who could be blocking Nate are tied up at the line handling our tackles and DEs. Our coverage is excellent and our DBs are supporting the run defense.

    I do hope Nate has opportunities to intercept with 2 hands as well as the one-handed, high-lite reel INTs he has so far.

  11. Pack92 09/10/2008 at 4:08 PM #

    Long overdue recognition for Nate. He came on like a freight train at the end of last year and looks like he hasn’t missed a beat this year. The one-handed INT at SC was highlight reel stuff. As mentioned above, kudos to Robbie Leonard as well. He has also been all over the field. I also look forward to what they can do with Spiller and Davis. From what I’ve seen it’s not our defense that worries me at Clemson. The D has played great (WAY better than anyone thought) but they can’t be on the field forever.

  12. burnbarn 09/10/2008 at 5:04 PM #

    In the off season, I thought our defense would be our biggest liabilty as we had to replace so many starters from last year. You have to hand it to Archer; he has done a great job of making our defense much improved across all facets.

    I am also impressed with Irving and other players on the D. WRAL has a great interview with Leonard and the thing that impresses me is all the D players keep talking about how they have to get stronger and play well for 4 quarters…not just 3.
    Good Thread SFN

  13. Primewolf 09/10/2008 at 7:58 PM #

    Clemson will be the test. If we can hold their rushing to, say 150-160 yds, that will be impressive.

    I think the D will get even better as the year goes on. 2ND teamers will get better because they are getting to play alot.

    Can Kuhn emerge or will he end up a second teamer during his career?

  14. PacknSack 09/11/2008 at 9:52 AM #

    I saw Nate play at Wallace-Rose Hill and he was a beast, but skinny. I was thinking he would be a safety at State — the kind of safety that causes alligator arms on passes over the middle.

    State is getting a lot of contributions from the Wilmington-area kids this year — Nate, George Bryan, Owen Spencer, even Geron James. It’s good to see us owning the in-state recruiting and having those guys make an impact.

  15. Otis 09/11/2008 at 2:15 PM #

    I end up taking a lot of summer school classes that are populated with student athletes at State. There was more than a handful of guys from the football team in my classes this year. In the off season, I am not too good with names and positions, but when I saw Nate, I instantly though NFL caliber Linebacker. He also was one of the good attitude guys in class. I knew he would be successful this year, but I am still surprised how successful he has been so far. Also in this class was George Byran, it took me a long time to figure out what position he played, because to me he had the frame of a pro-caliber Offensive Tackle. I am now understand him playing at TE, I expect good things from him before he graduates as well, also another good attitude type guy. But I am not holding my breath on Nate being here all five years.

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