Back Wolfpack Front One of the Nation’s Best

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Wolfpack Front One of the Nation’s Best

By BJ Bennett
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Every single projected starter along the first two levels of the NC State defense is a senior, and a notable one at that.

NC State has a proud history of defensive standouts, a tradition that will be on clear display this fall. The Wolfpack, winners of three of four to end last season, will boast one of the nation's premier defensive fronts. All-American candidate Bradley Chubb at defensive end will lead a unit, fit with a host of other accomplished stars, ready to help NC State contend in the ACC Atlantic.

If opponents are going to move the football against the Wolfpack, they will have to earn it. Of ACC teams, only Miami allowed fewer touchdowns than NC State in 2016, which finished fourth in the ACC holding foes to 22.8 points per game. Among other performances, the Wolfpack limited Notre Dame to three points, Clemson and Florida State to 24 and North Carolina to 21. NC State held Vanderbilt to 3.8 yards per play in a momentum-building 41-17 Independence Bowl victory.

A year ago, the Wolfpack ranked second in the conference in rush defense by allowing just 108.6 yards per game, less than one full yard from leading the league; NC State slotted eighth nationally and fourth in all of power five football in that critical defensive category. The Wolfpack held Dalvin Cook to just 65 rushing yards, Lamar Jackson to 76 and Deshaun Watson to 35. Additionally, the Wolfpack's 37 sacks were the program's most since 2011.   

Chubb will be the catalyst for an absolutely ferocious front line. He is back after 21.5 tackles for loss, ten sacks and three forced fumbles as a junior; Chubb is one of only five players in college football returning after a 20-10 season. Dating back to November of 2015, Chubb has 28.5 tackles for loss in his past 18 games. Justin Jones, Kentavius Street and Darian Roseboro, who had three sacks against Old Dominion, combined for 27.5 tackles for loss last fall. B.J. Hill, the interior anchor, has 31 career starts.

Like Chubb, linebacker Airius More had a career-year a season ago, compiling 86 total tackles, 13 tackles for loss and five pass break-ups. Included in his production were standout performances against East Carolina, where he had 4.5 tackles for loss, and an Independence Bowl showing where he earned Defensive MVP honors with nine tackles and two sacks. Jerod Fernandez, who has five career interceptions, is the team's leading returning tackler with 88 stops.   

Every single projected starter along the first two levels of the NC State defense is a senior, and a notable one at that. The defensive core, for the Wolfpack, is fit with veterans who have been through the grind. Furthermore, players like 325-pound Eurndraus Bryant, 6'6'' Tyrone Riley, former starter Riley Nicholson and incoming freshman Grant Gibson, among others, give NC State even more depth chart options. Up front, few teams in the country are better.

The Wolfpack are poised to break up the status quo in the ACC Atlantic this season. A disruptive defensive front will lead the charge.   

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: / Twitter: @BJBennettSports