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September 7, 2012
Pack Pros: 19 Wolfpackers make final rosters
NFL rosters were trimmed to 53 players last Friday night, and all 19 former Wolfpack players who began the day with NFL clubs made their respective teams. That group includes 11 players who are currently listed atop depth charts on team's official websites, including a pair of rookies in Seattle Seahawks' quarterback Russell Wilson and offensive guard J.R. Sweezy.
Wilson combines with San Diego Chargers' standout Philip Rivers to make NC State one of just two schools to boast multiple starting NFL quarterbacks. Other starters include Tennessee Titans' offensive guard Leroy Harris, Seahawks' kicker Steven Hauschka, Tampa Bay Buccaneers' offensive guard Ted Larsen, Cincinnati Bengals' linebacker Manny Lawson, New York Giants' offensive tackle Sean Locklear, Detroit Lions' linebacker Stephen Tulloch, Buffalo Bills' defensive end Mario Williams and Arizona Cardinals' safety Adrian Wilson. Tulloch and Rivers were both named team captains for their clubs.
Of the school's 19 professional players, Wolfpack head coach Tom O'Brien coached eight for their entire NC State careers, mentored another pair for three years and also had running back Andre Brown for two seasons.
According to the Rivals.com recruiting rankings, six members of that group O'Brien coached now playing in the NFL were two-star recruits, while two were three-stars and a pair were four-stars. Steven Hauschka, who played for one year with the Pack after transferring from Middlebury College, was never in the Rivals' database.
Sweezy has been the latest revelation out of a strong rookie class, which boasted an impressive six NFL Draft picks that tied the school record set in 2006.
"When you put six guys in the NFL, and they all make NFL opening-day rosters, I think that says a lot about the coaches' evaluations and recruiting the right kids," O'Brien noted.
Sweezy, a college defensive tackle who has not set up on offensive line since he was an 8-year-old playing pee-wee football, was a seventh-round pick by the Seahawks, who immediately lined him up at offensive guard. He learned quickly and solidified his spot after he was given an opportunity with the first-team unit when incumbent right guard John Moffitt missed time following an elbow surgery.
"J.R.'s earned it," Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll told the team's official website. "He did it just the old-fashioned way of hard, tough, day-after-day ball. We saw glimpses right from the beginning, and couldn't believe that he would learn as he's learned, but he did.
"What we do get out of him is a very aggressive kid. He's really tough and he'll make plays. If you keep your eye on him, he's going to make plays knocking people and getting out on the perimeter and getting downfield because he runs so well and he's so athletic. And he's got this nature about hitting people that we just love."
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