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Weekly NC State football notebook: Seniors want to go bowling

NC State sixth-year senior defensive end Deonte Holden completely understands the ebbs and flows of Wolfpack football.

That’s one of the byproducts of being part of the program for six years. Holden is the last playing member of NC State’s class of 2014, which proved to be a foundation for head coach Dave Doeren's program. When Holden sees various younger players getting thrown into action early due to attrition, it could feel like déjà vu for him. The class of 2014 ended up with 22 future starters at NCSU.

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Holden’s playing time in the Wolfpack’s new 3-3-5 defensive alignment has been cut down this season. He averaged 31.5 plays per game last year, but is at 17.9 a contest this fall. He has eight tackles, two tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks in nine appearances this season.

Holden hopes to be a major factor against the Yellow Jackets because he could start for the first time this season after friend and teammate James Smith-Williams exited the Louisville game with a hit to the head last Saturday.

In Holden’s case, he hopes to have three more games in a Wolfpack uniform, but that is predicated on defeating both Georgia Tech on Thursday and North Carolina at 7 p.m. the following Saturday (Nov. 30) in Raleigh, when he figures the tears will be streaming for Senior Day.

“I think it’s going to be pretty good as long as we continue to stay focused and come together as a team,” Holden said. “We need to have that faith and belief that we are going to win these last two games.”

The savvy veteran knows to not worry about what people are saying due to a four-game losing streak.

“Some people may not believe outside of NC State, but I know within this team, we believe in each other,” Holden said. “As long as we keep that belief, with that work, then the outcome will be what we expect.”

Holden was part of a recruiting class with future NFL defensive linemen Bradley Chubb, Justin Jones, B.J. Hill and Kentavius Street. Holden and fifth-year senior Smith-Williams can pass down stories to the next wave of younger defensive lineman.

“It’s just experience, and it takes time,” Holden said. “We aren’t using the excuse that people are young or excuse that people are injured, but some things just take time.

“Regardless of if you are young or old, this is a job. You have to do your job to the best of your ability.”

The 6-foot-4, 247-pound Holden, who played at Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha Catholic, suffered a broken left foot during the first day of training camp his freshman year. He needed two surgeries to take care of the injury, and he didn’t play football for about 18 months. The time off led to him receiving a sixth year of eligibility this season.

Few NC State players have taken advantage of the academic possibilities like Holden has over the last six years. He graduated in business marketing in May 2017, followed by his first master’s in business management, second master’s in global luxury management and third mater’s in brand marketing and textile management.

“I wanted to get another one and go for my PhD, but it would have taken too long,” Holden said. “I’m pretty much done with school.”

Holden spent last spring studying abroad in Paris as part of his global luxury and management dual master’s program. The food portions were small, but otherwise he loved the experience. He also made sure to keep up with NCSU strength and conditioning coach Dantonio Burnette’s training regimen while in Paris.

Holden was able to meet with different industries such as the headquarters of Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Chanel.

Holden enjoyed how he seamlessly transitioned from college football player to walking into Louis Vuitton. He said he got his hair cut for the experience and stepped up his clothing attire for Paris.

“When I met the people at Louis Vuitton, I never told them I was a college football player,” Holden said. “When you get overseas, it doesn’t really matter. I tried to adapt to everybody else. They like to wear all black.

“They could tell I was an athlete when they saw my body structure. I have nothing but respect for that brand.”

Holden also traveled to London, Dubai, Morocco, Nice, Barcelona and Rome during his time overseas January through April. When he got back home, he ate like crazy with his mother cooking him a Thanksgiving dinner in May.

Holden also has interned at Belk.

“I just wanted to learn about the retail industry and incorporate some of their strategies in my fashion business,” Holden said. “I have a lot of things planned for the future, but I can’t really say right now.

"I’m the type of person who wants to show people what I got going on rather than tell them.”

NCSU Players Are Still Dreaming Of A Bowl Berth

Fifth-year seniors like James Smith-Williams (left in black jersey) and Jarius Morehead (right) are aiming to make it to a bowl all five years in Raleigh.
Fifth-year seniors like James Smith-Williams (left in black jersey) and Jarius Morehead (right) are aiming to make it to a bowl all five years in Raleigh. (Ken Martin/TheWolfpacker.com)

NC State redshirt sophomore receiver Thayer Thomas knows the reality of the Wolfpack's football’s situation — win twice and go bowling. Lose just once more and it’s home for the holidays.

Thomas also appreciates the urgency that the current seniors are feeling, citing Holden as an example.

“He’s been to a bowl game for five years in a row, and he’s a sixth-year senior,” Thomas noted. “It’s very important for the seniors to get to their last bowl game. We don’t really know what life is like without a bowl game.”

Wolfpack fifth-year senior safety Jarius Morehead confirmed what Thomas said about going bowling.

“It’s very important,” Morehead said. “I’m a senior. I can’t imagine not going to a bowl game. We are taking each day very seriously. We have to worry about the game that’s coming up.”

NC State plays a 2-8 Georgia Tech squad in Atlanta. At first glance, the Yellow Jackets’ record would suggest it’s a very winnable game. Both Thomas and Morehead insisted that there is no looking past them towards a regular-season ending clash against rival UNC.

“They beat Miami,” Thomas said of Georgia Tech. “Miami’s a really good team.”

“They’re beatable; we’re beatable,” Morehead summed up.

Georgia Tech is coming off a 45-0 loss to Virginia Tech, but Thomas also noted that the Jackets gave Virginia a tight game before falling 33-28 on the road.

“You can get them on their good day, bad day, you really just don’t know,” Thomas said. “You just act like you get them on their good day.”

Players Deal With A Short Week

Everything is going at warped speed for NC State football this week. On Wednesday, the team packed its bags and headed to Atlanta for a Thursday night showdown at Georgia Tech. This after playing a primetime game Saturday evening against Louisville.

In order to prepare for the game, NC State practiced on its normal off-day Monday, and they did it in the evening rather than the usual morning routine. Then the team was on the field for its normal Tuesday morning workout but did so without pads.

“It felt like another fall camp, basically,” Morehead said. “Practiced Monday night, practiced Tuesday morning. … It came by real quick.”

Thomas noted he feels like he is in somewhat uncharted territory.

“We didn’t get off the field till 10, and then we practiced Tuesday morning — we had two practices in a short span,” Thomas said. “I’ve never played a Thursday night game away. It’s been a little bit different.”

Both players stressed the need to take the initiative to get themselves ready.

“You have to get massages, get enough sleep, get in the treatment room, just do the right things,” Thomas said. “Cold tub, hot tub — just do the things I’ve been doing all season to try to get my body right for Thursday.”

“When you have time to recover, recover,” Morehead said. “When you have time to watch film, watch film. This is a week where details are really important. It'’s more of a one-on-one time with yourself and your film work and your body.”

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