Junior linebacker Brandon Pittman is about as local as they come on the NC State football team.
He grew up in Raleigh and attended Leesville Road High. Thus he knows the ins and outs of Tobacco Road as much as anyone on the team. Yet he does not find it strange that Saturday when NCSU kicks off at Duke it will be the first time he has faced the Blue Devils in his Wolfpack career.
"Not really," Pittman stated. "I'm kind of anxious to play them. I wish we had better luck against the other in-state schools and be one step closer to an in-state championship.
"But it's close to my home, so it should be interesting. I know a lot of Duke fans in that Durham area."
Pittman though knew only one player on Duke, and that's former corner Zach Greene, a former Leesville Road product himself that graduated last year. Pittman himself was not involved with Duke during the recruiting process.
"Not at all," he clarified. "I wasn't a huge Duke fan. I don't know, I wouldn't say I never really liked Duke, but I was just never a fan of them."
Rivalry aside, Pittman said that his main focus is ending a four-game losing streak and prevailing for the first time in an ACC game this season.
"We have had some lows," Pittman admitted. "We want that win very bad, but the coaches have told us we have to keep our heads up and move on to just the next game. Don't look too far into the future, take it one game at a time."
Thus for Pittman, Duke is "just another game on the schedule that we have to come out and capitalize." But it's not the Duke squad that Pittman probably grew up watching play. These Devils are 6-2 overall and 2-2 in the ACC. They are bowl eligible for the second straight season, and as Pittman noted they are considered one of the best teams in the ACC.
"Probably during the preseason not too many would have said that, but they are playing well," Pittman added. "You cannot take them lightly. They are going to come out there all cylinders flying."