NC State starting weakside linebacker Terrell Manning underwent knee surgery Monday and will miss three weeks according to Wolfpack coach Tom O'Brien. Manning's injury has opened the door for former starter Dwayne Maddox.
The three-week timeline for Manning projects a return after NC State's bye Oct. 15. The Wolfpack first game back will be at Virginia on Oct. 22.
Manning hurt his knee during the first half of the South Alabama game last Saturday. The redshirt junior tallied 16 snaps in the eventual 35-13 Wolfpack victory. Manning has 14 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and half a sack in 158 plays this season.
The 6-foot-3, 233-pounder from Laurinburg, N.C., had a breakout season last year, finishing with 76 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, five sacks, one interceptions, two caused fumbles and two recovered fumbles.
Maddox filled in for Manning against the Jaguars and will get the start Thursday at Cincinnati. True freshman Brandon Pittman of Raleigh is the backup.
"Dwayne Maddox has some experience and he's been around," O'Brien said. "He'll have to step up and make plays now."
Maddox started 11 out of 12 games and had 54 tackles and four tackles for loss in 2009, and Manning was his backup. Manning won the job last year, and Maddox had eight tackles in nine games in reserve action.
Maddox equaled last year's tackling total with eight stops against South Alabama, and had 11 tackles through three games.
"It felt good when my number was called," Maddox said. "I wanted to help the team win and do my responsibilities."
Redshirt junior strong safety Earl Wolff was happy to see Maddox come through with a solid performance against the Jaguars.
"Dwayne is a hard-working guy," Wolff said. "Dwayne and I are really close friends. When Terrell went down, I was upset, but as soon as Dwayne came in, I already had confidence in him. Dwayne is a smart guy. He came in and made a lot of plays and I'm glad he is on the team."
Maddox has the versatility to play all three linebacker spots, which has proven to be valuable in light of Manning's injury, plus senior backup middle linebacker Sterling Lucas also suffered a knee injury and is out for the year.
"Playing inside or outside backer, you have to know the blitzes," Maddox said. "You have to have a good state of mind and mindset to play all of them and to separate the three of them."
Having a player as experienced as Maddox also helps the Wolfpack during this short week of preparation.
"I'm excited about the opportunity and I'm going to make the best of it," Maddox said. "I'm just glad the coaches feel they can put me in those situations and have faith in me to help us win."
Maddox was famously thrust to the forefront during the 2009 season while filling in for star linebacker Nate Irving, who missed the season after suffering multiple injuries in a near-deadly car accident.
Replacing his good friend and recruiting classmate Manning for a few games isn't quite the same circumstances, but it's nice for the coaching staff to have probably one of the more experienced backup linebackers poised to take over.
Maddox flew around the field against South Alabama simply because he never knows when the next opportunity might come.
"I had a lot of energy and the crowd was real live, and I fed off the crowd," Maddox said. "My teammate went down and it kind of sparked the emotions to fight for him since he can't be out there. We got the win and did what we needed to do."
Maddox could have dropped down the FCS level and been a standout this season, but he was also driven to achieve something else while at NC State.
"I'm going to graduate this fall and I have 13 credits left," said Maddox, who is majoring in communications. "I'm ready for that degree. It's been a long road the last four years.
"When I committed here, I committed to stay here for four years and help my team in any way I could. My first couple of years I played, but this season, I haven't played as much. I'm a team player. There is no 'I' in team. Any time I'm called into the game, I'll do what I have to do."
Maddox didn't redshirt while at NC State, so his career has gone by a little bit faster than some of his fellow recruiting class teammates.
"I feel like I was just a freshman, and that was in 2008, and now I'm a senior," Maddox said. "It flew by."