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October 31, 2013

Pack assistant Clayton White has lived rivalry



No player or coach on the staff may know the NC State-UNC rivalry as well as Wolfpack safeties coach and co-special teams coordinator Clayton White.

Born in Dunn, N.C., the 35-year old White joked that he can probably recall about 25 editions of the Wolfpack-Tar Heel showdowns.

"Memory lane goes a long way back to me, it goes back to childhood running around in the apartment complex picking who was going to win: State or Carolina," White noted.

White had a chance to go to UNC, but instead he elected to sign with NC State. As a three-year starting linebacker, he experienced both the heartbreaks and thrills in the rivalry.

"We played two of those games in Charlotte, we lost those heartbreakers," White remembered. "One was overtime, one was a last play at the end."

Those losses extended UNC's winning streak over the Pack to seven straight. White helped State end it during his senior season in 2000 in Chapel Hill, N.C., which was former quarterback Philip Rivers' debut in the series.

"The Philip-era was the end of a lot of things around here," White pointed out. "We had Koren [Robinson], too. Philip caught a touchdown pass that game. It was a great feeling, ending that streak on their field."

Since his playing days, White acknowledged that he has developed close friendships with some of his former bitter rivals. White understands the rivalry with UNC because he has literally lived it.

He also understands the challenge players, especially those from the state, face during the week to channel their inner emotions and focus on the task at hand.

"It's hard, I'm not going to lie, it's hard," White said. "It really takes a lot of mental focus to stay who you are. You can't change too much. There will be extra juice the first five minutes, and then from then on it's a football game."

It's a football game where the results will truly carry on for a year.

"The rivalries are real here," White said. "It's been that way forever."



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