NC State aiming for increased secondary depth

Jacey Zembal, Editor
The Wolfpacker
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Jacey Zembal/TheWolfpacker.com

NC State head coach Dave Doeren announced that redshirt freshman cornerback James Valdez is out for the season with a torn ACL.

Valdez came in to replace fifth-year senior cornerback Johnathan Alston for the second half of the Marshall game. He ended hurting his knee after 26 snaps and Alston returned to the game. Alston and sophomore Nick McCloud will remain as the starting cornerbacks, but help is on the way.

The Valdez news was coupled by the return of senior cornerback Mike Stevens, though the latter is expected to play only in obvious passing situations against Furman at 12:20 p.m. Saturday.

“Mike practiced yesterday and the day before, and he did everything today vs. the scout team, so we can get him more reps,” Doeren said. “The type of offense that we are playing [triple-option], I’m not going to play him unless we end up in a situation where they are airing it out. We don’t want to bring him back too early, but he’s 100 percent right now.”

The shakeup in the secondary has led to the elevation of freshman cornerback Chris Ingram and redshirt freshman cornerback Bryce Banks. Ingram has already been playing on special teams.

Doeren said he met with Ingram, wide receiver Emeka Emezie, linebackers Lous Acceus and Raven Saunders and guard Josh Fedd-Jackson — all members of his class of 2017 — prior to the season to let them know he planned to play them this season.

Ingram, Acceus, Saunders and Fedd-Jackson have all played on special teams, and Emezie has three catches for 28 yards.

“We made a decision to talk to them about two weeks prior to the first game, and they were all for it,” Doeren said. “We wouldn’t pull another guy out unless we had to. Chris Ingram from day one did good things in camp.”

Doeren Glad To Have Running Backs Coach Des Kitchings On His Staff

Doeren pondered for less than a day that he might have go against a Des Kitchings’ led Furman squad this season. Kitchings was the leading candidate to return to his alma mater, but elected to remain with the Wolfpack last Dec. 16.

“He had an opportunity for that job and I think it was his job to turn down,” Doeren said. “He decided he wanted to be here with us and his family loves Raleigh.”

Kitchings was the lone member of the Tom O’Brien coaching staff to remain with Doeren. He added recruiting coordinator following Doeren’s first season.

“They had a lot of good coaches on their staff, so it wasn’t a matter if he was better than other guys, but I knew I was going to be bringing some guys with me at position groups,” Doeren said. “I was trying to find a couple of people that would fit.”

Kitchings was able to ease Doeren’s transition to a new area, both in practical terms like knowing the in’s and out’s of the state, but also in recruiting.

“His background at different places that he has been in in recruiting [has helped],” Doeren said. “I wanted to have one guy at least to teach me what our campus is, what official visit weekends and there is a lot to being new to being at a school.

“It can be not knowing who you should call or what restaurants have been good or who are the people that will look out for you and the people that may not.”

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