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.