"In camp there was a lot going on at the time," said Underwood. "As a player that is no excuse, and I didn't hold on to the football. That's the bottom line.
"[The other backs] got an opportunity off of my mishaps in camp last year, and they capitalized on it."
Underwood was the only upperclassman at a position that had virtually no experience. He redshirted in 2009 under the impression that the starting job was his to lose. It was, and he lost it. Looking back, he feels that he was complacent.
"Honestly, yes I was complacent," he stated. "I felt like the younger guys wouldn't probably be able to get it done, and I just had to get through camp. It wasn't like that.
"It was a big wake-up call, and I was blessed with the opportunity to come back. I have a second chance to do it all over again. A lot of guys don't really get that chance, and I'm just happy to have it."
Underwood's second chance came following spring practice. He had already decided to leave the program because he didn't think he would receive an opportunity to be a major contributor this fall after the emergence of standout freshman Mustafa Greene.
Underwood was actually on a recruiting visit when Greene sustained a foot injury, and it didn't take him long to reconsider his decision.
"I was on a visit to the University of North Alabama, and when I got back a couple of guys informed me that Moose had went down," said Underwood.
"A couple of weeks after the spring game Coach O'Brien gave me a phone call and we talked. I didn't even let him finish... I told him I wanted to come back."
A 5-foot-11, 215-pounder blessed with good speed and natural athleticism, Underwood is currently No. 2 on the depth chart but certainly in the mix for major minutes. He says he is having a much better camp this time around and his approach is simple.
"I'm going to do what Russell [Wilson] did here," he said. "He basically willed himself to being the starter... basically doing what you don't have to do... the extra work after practice. Everyone is good here. It's the extra stuff that will separate you from everyone else.
"I'm holding on to the ball this year as if my life is depending on it. I have a little son, and I'm playing for him too."
While he admits that there is a major battle going on for the starting tailback job, Underwood acknowledges that it is a friendly competition that is strictly taking place on the gridiron.
"Oh, we're friends off the field," he stated. "Every year at the running back position guys are competing every day, but it's on the field.
"It's weird, I feel like the father or grandfather of the group. They ask me questions, and I'm not shy to correct them. I'm taking a leadership role but also listening to the guys too."
NC State hasn't had to count on Underwood while he has been in Raleigh, but with Greene sidelined and a stable of new skill position players, he has a chance to greatly impact this year's team. While he has totaled only 66 carries for 262 yards and just one touchdown in his career, Underwood is extremely confident in his ability. Could this be his year to emerge?
"This is big year for me," he said. "It's all or nothing. All the cards are on the table, and I'm ready to go."