Defensive tackle Monty Nelson has gone beyond that point of being a contributing true freshman. He has started two of the last three games for the Wolfpack.
When Nelson began the season, he logged 24 plays against Louisiana Tech in the season opener, impressing with two tackles for loss and recovering a fumble. In the first five games, he played an average of 23.4 snaps a game and totaled nine tackles, including six for loss.
Then in the last four games he has seen his role increased. He's averaging 36.3 plays a game. He made a career-high six tackles, including one for a loss and assisting on his first career sack, against UNC Nov. 2.
Yet for the understated Nelson, more playing time has not changed things for him.
"I felt about the same," Nelson said. "I was able to execute a lot more versus Duke than earlier, but it's really no difference."
It's tough to rattle Nelson, something even the defensive coaches have quickly noticed.
"Monty is a guy that just has so much confidence and nothing seems to faze him," defensive coordinator Dave Huxtable noted. "That's really cool for a freshman."
What's also unique about Nelson is that he has quickly discovered something important about playing college football, perhaps explaining his confidence and low-key reflections to his early accomplishments.
"I have to trust myself," Nelson stated. "I have to believe in my abilities, even as a freshman. It makes no difference between a freshman or a senior.
"I just always knew that I would be doing this one day. As soon as it happened, it was a natural thing for me."
Nelson will not go as far as to say though that he expected to start as a true freshman.
"I just came in knowing that I was going to work, whether they redshirted me or not, I just wanted to work," he said. "I knew one day I would be playing."
Nelson should play a key role Saturday for NC State. The Pack faces a Boston College team that is committed to the run more than any ACC team not running the triple option, i.e. Georgia Tech. Thus the defensive line will get a physical test from the Eagles' offense.
Huxtable noted though that Nelson was "strong as an ox" when he arrived in Raleigh, and Nelson himself is not about to back down from the challenge.
"We're physical, too," Nelson pointed out. "Boston College is a good team with a good o-line. We got to out there and play our game."
There may be one aspect though about Boston College that could be the first thing to actually rattle Nelson this year. Temperatures will be lucky to make it into the upper-50's on Saturday in Chestnut Hill, Mass. Nelson has gotten a taste of the cold weather this week in Raleigh when the thermostat did not reach 50 degrees on Wednesday.
Still, for the Plantation, Fla.-native, it's going to take a little more time getting used to cold weather.
"Tell me about it," Nelson joked.
Perhaps he is still a true freshman after all.