The NC State football team isn't just hoping to beat Vanderbilt on the field next Monday, but also in tonight's rib eating contest.
"We're going to try to win everything we do in Nashville, and the rib-eating contest is one of them," fifth-year senior offensive tackle R.J. Mattes said.
The Music City Bowl in Nashville has its official welcome party from 7 p.m.-to-10 p.m. at the General Jackson Showboat and Hard Rock Café. The traditional rib eating contest has spawned some good discussion on the team on who would do best.
The Wolfpacker on Twitter asked the question on who should represent NC State, and junior left tackle Rob Crisp drew the most votes. The 6-foot-7, 312-pounder is one of 14 players over 300 pounds on the NCSU roster.
"It shows what the fans think of me being the biggest guy on the team," said Crisp. "It's a fun activity that they do in Tennessee, and if the fans want me to do it, maybe I'll be able to."
Freshmen offensive linemen Eddie Gordon and John Tu'uta have drawn praise for their eating prowess, and redshirt sophomore right tackle Tyson Chandler is arguably the biggest player on the team at a listed 6-6 and 340 pounds.
Redshirt junior guard Duran Christophe, who is 6-6 and 302 pounds, is another player that is known for putting food away.
"We got some guys who can eat, with Tyson Chandler No. 1," Crisp said. "Duran Christophe might seem like an undersized lineman, but he can for sure out-eat a lot of people on this team."
Chandler joked that too many of the offensive lineman are on diets and not allowed to compete. He also gives Christophe credit for his eating skills.
"Duran can eat a lot of food," Chandler said.
Some of the "smaller" position players have also been stating their cases. Fifth-year senior strong safety Earl Wolff, freshman running back Shadrach Thornton, redshirt freshman wide receiver Maurice Morgan and redshirt junior wide receiver Quintin Payton have been hailed for their as potential rib eating heroes.
"I know a lot of guys will say Eddie Gordon, but Shadrach is another true freshman that can eat a lot," NCSU junior cornerback Dontae Johnson said. "He can throw down on this contest. I'd have faith in him to win.
"Earl is also an eater, but he likes chicken more than ribs. If it was a chicken contest, I'd give it to Earl. He can still eat a lot too."
NC State redshirt sophomore wide receiver Bryan Underwood has no doubt that 6-2, 225-pound Morgan and 6-4, 210-pound Payton could represent his position group quite well.
"They could be someone that could do the whole thing," Underwood said. "I haven't seen them with ribs, but I wouldn't be surprised if Maurice and Q.P. could do it. It would be a good challenge [vs. the lineman], but I think they could hang with them."
Sophomore defensive tackle T.Y. McGill noted that he heard he had received some votes to participate, but he's not in it.
"It would have been nice, but I'm trying to stay right, keep my body in a good shape," McGill said.
Freshman walk-on defensive end Rogers Clark and Tu'uta have emerged behind the scenes as strong contenders in upholding the program's pride against Vanderbilt. Clark checks in at 6-1 and 235-pounds, while Tu'uta is 6-2 and 325. Both are expected to compete tonight.
"I've been on a diet for a while, but I know Rogers Clark is in it and John Tu'uta, who can eat a lot," Chandler said. "Tu'uta actually did a pizza eating contest at Rutgers, and he won. It was like a 28-inch pizza and a meat lover's pizza with onions, peppers, sausage, pepperoni, ham and he ate it all in an hour."
The actual five that will team up for the Wolfpack in the eating contest will remain a secret though until the event.
"We got some heavy guys on the list, so we'll be a strong competition and we'll try to pull it out," Mattes noted, before adding he's not one of them.
"We basically practice every day the way these guy eat at Golden Corral's all-you-can eat buffet. There are a lot bigger guys that eat a whole lot more than me. I won't give out any names."
Chandler was able to use some of the Music City Bowl swag to get his mom a new watch and his father a theater system, and his girlfriend received a smoothie blender for Christmas.
Chandler was hoping to watch the Nashville Predators vs. Washington Capitals hockey game, but the lockout squabble has canceled that event Saturday. He will get to attend his first NFL game Sunday with the Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans.
"I'm excited to watch an NFL game," said Chandler, who played Santa Clause at the 2010 Champs Sports Bowl. "Being from New Jersey, I've never watched the New York Giants play. I've seen the new Giants Stadium and it looks nice."