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August 18, 2013

Rodman Noel pursuing own dreams



Rodman Noel had a front row seat at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., to watch his younger brother Nerlens Noel slide a little bit down to No. 6 overall to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Nerlens won't be healthy enough to start the season for the 76ers. The former Kentucky star suffered an ACL tear in his left knee Feb. 12 against Florida. The 6-foot-10 shot-blocker is expected to miss half the season, but the 76ers do come down to Charlotte for an exhibition game Oct. 17, and then Dec. 6 and April 12. Nerlens should be back for the latter and perhaps Rodman will have a free Saturday night during spring practices to attend the game.

"I was just so excited for him," Rodman Noel said. "Ever since we were little kids, we have always had dreams of making it in a pro league. To be in New York City in front of a bunch of people, it was amazing. I'm proud of my little brother."

Rodman's other brother, Jim Noel, was hoping to make the Seattle Seahawks as an undrafted free agent out of Boston College. Jim Noel also got injured this spring, which will delay his hopes of making an NFL team.

"He got hurt during mini-camp in the spring, so he's just rehabbing and training, and will hopefully get back to Seattle soon," Rodman Noel said.

The opportunity to provide to their family has been a driving force for the three Noel brothers. The sixth pick of the 2012 NBA draft, Damian Lillard, reportedly signed for four years and it could pay as much as $13.8 million with the Portland Trail Blazers.

"Each one of us is still competing in anything we do," Rodman Noel said. "It doesn't matter if Nerlens makes it to the NBA or Jim is in the NFL right now, but I am still in college. We are still grounded and competing and acting like none of us.

"We are grateful for a lot of things and I'll get to see them once in a while. I'll make a trip to Philadelphia. I'm sure he'll make it to a couple of our games during the season. I'll see Jim once in a while."

Rodman Noel's goals on the college level are much simpler than what his brothers are going through. He is hoping to challenge for playing time at strongside linebacker, where he is currently second string behind senior D.J. Green.

Both Green and Noel started their NC State careers at strong safety, but eventually made the move to outside linebacker. Noel said having one year under his belt at his new position has made a big difference this fall camp.

"We are at the same spot and competing, and fighting every day," Noel said. "We'll see who has it by the 31st. I've known D.J. since my freshman year. We've always been good teammates and good friends off the field. On the field, we have to compete."

The rangy 6-4, 221-pounder from Everett, Mass., started five out of 13 games last year and accumulated 38 tackles, seven tackles for loss and one sack. He had a career-high nine tackles and two tackles for loss in the wild shootout against Miami last year.

"I'm just competing right now just to get a spot," Noel said. "I like how the defense is playing together. After camp, the whole team can gel together and we'll be fine for the first game."

Defensive coordinator Dave Huxtable works with the linebackers and coach Dave Doeren is a former linebackers coach himself.

"Coach Huxtable likes how I can make all the calls on the field," Noel said. "I'm able to get the defense on the same page. He likes how we play fast and he tells us all the time that we have to use that to our advantage. That is what we try to do every day."

Noel didn't want to proclaim himself the fastest linebacker, but he also didn't want to give that mantle to one of his teammates.

"Speed on the field is all that counts," Noel said. "I can't say that nobody is faster than me, but all the linebackers are fast."


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