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August 11, 2012
Media day notebook: Newcomers adjusting well
Under head coach Tom O'Brien, it is an annual tradition that the media's first chance to interview the newcomers comes at the Wolfpack's media day. After O'Brien met with the media on Saturday afternoon, the freshmen and new transfers, as well as several other players, faced the media and talked about the upcoming season.
The true freshmen are transitioning to the college game and taking pointers from their older teammates. Wide receiver Charlie Hegedus, whose importance just increased with today's news that Bryan Underwood would be out indefinitely following surgery, talked about his adjustment to the Pack offense.
"The offense is a lot different from high school, so it's been different trying to learn it all," he said. "Obviously the competition is a lot better, so I'm trying to adjust to that. It's been really cool being able to compete with all of these players at the next level.
"It started off a little slow, but I've picked it up faster now. I'm starting to get it down, it's starting to come easy now."
True freshman quarterback Manny Stocker has been in Raleigh since January, so O'Brien likened him to a redshirt freshman, since he's been through spring practices and even played in the annual spring game. However, today was also the media's first chance to talk with the Pack's back-up signal caller.
"I think coming early has helped me a lot," he said. "I understand how big of a deal college is and I'm taking it more seriously than before I came into college. It helped my body, it helped me learn the plays and it just helped in general.
"When I came in, I don't think I was as comfortable throwing, I didn't know where the receivers were going to be or the combinations of routes. When we started camp, I felt a lot more comfortable throwing the ball. I feel like I know the offense now."
Penn State transfer safety Tim Buckley has also enjoyed his new surroundings and teammates. There hasn't been much of an adjustment needed off the field for the Raleigh native, who is immediately eligible, because he's familiar with the city, but he's working hard on fitting in to a new defense.
"After talking with NC State, coming home was a big part for me," the redshirt freshman said. "I had the opportunity to come back home and play in a secondary where I could jump right in and contribute. I'm learning more every day and I'm just trying not to make the same mistakes.
"I love the defense, I love the coaching staff. The defensive backs are great to work with, they're one of the most productive secondaries in the country, so coming and learning from them, and from Coach Reed, has been awesome."
One incoming rookie who did not meet with the media, but drew a rave review from one of his teammates was defensive end Kenderius Whitehead.
"I think all of [the freshmen] have done pretty well, but the one that stands out to me is Kenderius," senior defensive lineman Brian Slay said. "He's going to be a special player. Give him some time and he's going to take the ACC by storm."
One other newcomer who made his media debut on Saturday was quarterback Pete Thomas, who will have to sit out this fall due to NCAA transfer regulations. He admitted it will be difficult to stand on the sidelines for the entire season after playing in his first two at Colorado State, but he's excited for the chance to learn and work under O'Brien and offensive coordinator Dana Bible.
"It will definitely be tough, but I think in the end, it will work out good," he said. "I couldn't be at a better place than I am right now. I really like it here, the guys on the team are awesome and the coaches are awesome.
"It's really ironic how everything worked out, I guess everything happens for a reason. I couldn't be more excited to be here, playing for somebody like Coach O'Brien and Coach Bible. I couldn't ask for better teammates, either."
Another face the media had not seen in a while was not a new one to NC State fans, and that was running back Mustafa Greene, who returned to practice earlier this week after completing some academic work in summer school.
Greene led NC State in rushing as a true freshman during the 2010 campaign, when he totaled 597 yards and four scores on the ground. He redshirted last year with a foot injury, but declared himself back and ready to roll at media day.
"My foot feels good," he said. "I'm so ready to get back into practice, get behind my team, my coaches and fans. I'm ready for this season, I'm going to go out there and compete. I'm just fortunate to get a second chance from [O'Brien] and my teammates. I just thank God, thank Coach and thank my teammates for another opportunity."
Greene said last year was a learning process, but he felt like the redshirt year can be an advantage moving forward.
"I learned a lot off the field and on the field. Off the field, a lot of things were going on and I made some mistakes, but I'm here to work hard now and never get in that position again.
"Our goal is to win. I don't really have any personal goals besides helping the team win."
Although he is in direct competition with Greene for touches, fellow running back Tony Creecy was happy to see his running mate back on the field.
"There's a lot of competition [in the backfield], but competition makes everyone better," he said. "With all of that competition, we're all getting better at the same time. On Aug. 31, no matter who is starting, we'll be prepared."