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May 1, 2013
Former NC State safety Earl Wolff had a longer wait than expected on NFL Draft day, but it didn't damper the feeling of elation that he had when the Philadelphia Eagles called him name with the third pick of the fifth round, No. 136 overall.
"It's just something I've always dreamed of since I was a kid," he said. "Just hearing your name called and seeing it crawl across the screen feels great, there aren't really words to describe it."
Wolff was also happy that he would be making his NFL debut a comeback of sorts. His mother, Sharon Davis, is from North Philadelphia, and he still has numerous family members in the area, including his grandmother. He estimated that about 20 of those Philadelphia residents made the trip down to North Carolina for Wolff's draft day celebration, and several were donning Eagles' gear, regardless of where their relative was heading.
"They're all Eagles fans," Wolff said. "My uncle was sitting there with an Eagles on and I was like, 'wow, what a coincidence.' [After the call] everyone just went crazy, but it was a great feeling.
"It worked out well. My mom has never really been an NFL fan — she didn't really get into football until I started playing — but, if there's any team in the NFL, she has always liked the Eagles."
However, joy was not the only feeling that the Wolfpack's lone first-team All-ACC pick from this past year had on draft day. Before the event, he was projected as a second or third round guy, so it was disheartening to slide all the way down until the fifth.
"Even though I went later than I was projected, I feel like it will be a good move; God does everything for a reason," he said. "After four rounds went by, I had to keep telling myself, 'you'll get picked up soon,' but that was also when a fire started to burn inside of me.
"I've always played with a chip on my shoulder, but especially after that fifth round hit, I had a little bit of a fiery feeling. I'm ready to go right now because I want to prove to everybody why I should have picked earlier. I'm going to work to be one of the best safeties in the NFL."
When Wolff talked with The Wolfpacker he had not had much time to speak with the professional franchise about their plans for him. However, coaches have said they envision the 5-foot-11, 209-pounder as being a versatile cog on their back line, which has been re-made since last season.
Only three safeties — Nate Allen (13 starts), Kurt Coleman (14 starts) and Colt Anderson (four starts) — returned to the team after last season, but each struggled as the starter and the team added Patrick Chung (eight starts in New England) and Kenny Phillips (six starts with the New York Giants) in free agency this offseason.
Wolff is a tacking machine, who became the fifth player and the first defensive back in NC State history to reach 400 career tackles, and he also has the ability to contribute on all special teams right off the bat.
"I feel like the Eagles had some problems on the back end last year, so I feel like I can come in and contribute instantly," Wolf said. "I'm officially a Philadelphia Eagle and I can't wait to get to rookie minicamp."
"He's a great kid," Philadelphia coach Chip Kelly told CSNPhilly.com. "Everything the coaches said about him kind of ring true with what we want. An explosive, tough, hard-nosed physical player. When you can add some depth to your secondary, it's always a bonus.
"Earl is somebody that, in a talented safety class, we had kind of targeted [higher]. So we were happy to get him."
Wolff will head up to his new home next Thursday, and rookie minicamp begins on Friday, May 10. He's looking forward to being closer to his extended family, and proving himself on the next level of competition, much like he did in college, despite coming in under the radar.
"I just put it in God's hands and found out I'm going to the Eagles," he said. "I'm going to be around my family, and I'm a family-type of guy. Honestly, I haven't been to Philadelphia in years, so I'm ready to go up there, see my family and spend time with them."
He admits he'll miss his home for the past five years, Raleigh, but it's the next step in his journey and he won't be a stranger.
"Of course, my time at NC State was the best ever," he said. "Even if I could go back and change anything, I wouldn't change anything. I love it, I love the University, I love the fans to death, I love the atmosphere out there and I'll be back as much as possible."
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