NC State fifth-year senior cornerback C.J. Wilson will be sitting out the next three games as part of a four-game suspension from the NCAA.
NC State coach Tom O'Brien said Wilson needed to take 12 credits and pass six during the spring semester to maintain his eligibility. Wilson graduated last January, but some personal issues back home in Lincolnton, N.C., ended up preventing him from passing six credits.
The Wolfpack were away of Wilson's situation during fall camp and prepared for Friday's 35-21 loss to Tennessee at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta expecting he wouldn't be able to play.
"The NCAA came back Friday and suspended him for the first four games, so that is where it stands," O'Brien said. "He graduated in January and he did not pass six hours in the spring semester. He thought he could get by with ... and he put himself in a hole, had some family issues, and he thought he could save himself and he didn't.
"He thought he could juggle a lot of different balls and he was wrong."
Wilson had a 3.4 grade-point average during summer school, which essentially helped save some portion of his senior year.
"Because he was a graduate, the NCAA said four games instead of a year's suspension," O'Brien said. "He had extenuating circumstances during the semester, and he came back and demonstrated to them that he would be serious going forward by passing 12 hours during summer school."
Wilson started 29 out of 38 games the last three years, accumulating 95 tackles and three interceptions, all of which he returned for touchdowns. The 5-11, 187-pounder had 31 tackles and one interception, which he returned 59 yards for a touchdown in the season finale against Maryland last year.
NC State junior Dontae Johnson and redshirt freshman Juston Burris played cornerback opposite junior David Amerson against the Volunteers. Johnson slid into the nickel role in the Wolfpack's 4-2-5 defensive alignment, and Burris ended up with eight tackles and one pass broken up in 63 plays against the Volunteers.
O'Brien didn't think Wilson's absence affected the loss to the Volunteers, in part because of Burris' play.
"I think he was a little tentative and got scarred when they ran by Amerson (on two touchdowns) early," O'Brien said. "He didn't want to get run by. I think he can be more aggressive then he was. He didn't miss anybody. They may have caught the ball but he got them down, and he made a good play on the post (vs. Justin Hunter), when they threw it up that one time. I think it was a good start for him."
- O'Brien thought NC State played with great energy and effort in the loss to Tennessee, and felt the move of fifth-year senior R.J. Mattes from left tackle to left guard helped gel the offensive line together.
- O'Brien pointed out that you can't play a team like Tennessee and have fifth-year senior quarterback Mike Glennon turn the ball over five times and still win the game.
- The three-man rotation at running back with redshirt sophomores Mustafa Greene and Tony Creecy and senior James Washington, will continue against UConn on Saturday. The depth chart didn't change at all from last week, including the order of the three backs - Creecy, Washington and Greene.
- Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Bryan Underwood returned to practice last week after minor knee surgery Aug. 11, and was cleared to play against the Volunteers. He had three catches for nine yards and a touchdown in 53 plays against UT.
"I think he was rusty and ran out of gas, and we probably him played too much," O'Brien said. "He can't play without practice and needed his legs. He thought he could [things] for us, but he certainly has to play better for us to be successful out there."
Fifth-year senior middle linebacker Sterling Lucas also played for the first time since the 2010 season, and he had nine tackles and a sack in 74 plays. O'Brien also thought Lucas could have used a break during the game.
- O'Brien credited the quick release of Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray and the blocking of his offensive line for only posting one sack, which was by Lucas. O'Brien pointed out that defensive coordinator Mike Archer blitzed as often as last year, but the results weren't the same.
- O'Brien didn't see any ill effect from losing the opener during Sunday's practice, and their wasn't any players that suffered any season-ending injuries against the Volunteers.