Huge Chance For Pittman

RALEIGH, N.C. -- When Brandon Pittman inked with NC State in 2010 he probably didn't know when he would be called on to be a major contributor for the Wolfpack.

When Brandon Pittman inked with NC State in 2011 he probably didn't know when he would be called on to be a major contributor for the Wolfpack.

At the time State had standout Terrell Manning locked in at weakside linebacker for two more seasons and sophomore D.J. Green was the clear starter at strongside linebacker.

Pittman enrolled in the fall and showcased enough during camp to earn a role on the Wolfpack's special teams and received action in six games but played in just two from scrimmage (Cincinnati and Georgia Tech).

Looking back, he is happy to have avoided a redshirt, even though he didn't play a lot.

"It definitely gave me a feel for how it is to be in a game and not just practicing," he said. "The speed of game is a lot different and you must know your responsibilities. It happens so fast, and if you don't do what you're supposed to do you're in trouble."

Fast forward to the fall of 2012... Manning is a Green Bay Packer and Green is sidelined due to a suspension handed down by the NCAA.

Now Pittman, just a true sophomore is listed as the starter at strongside linebacker.

"I'm excited about it," said Pittman. "I've got to go out there and do my job.

"This year I have more food on my plate. I have to step up and play my role... not let my teammates down, not let my coaches down."

Pittman mainly worked at weakside linebacker in 2011 behind Manning, a position he wasn't very familiar with after playing safety and strongside linebacker his entire prep career at Raleigh (NC) Leesville Road High School.

With the emergence of Rickey Dowdy, the NC State coaches were able to shift Pittman to strongside this fall where he beat out fellow sophomore Rodman Noel for the starting job.

"Weakside and strongside are a lot different," said Pittman. "From being in the box to outside... in high school I was always outside, and I definitely enjoy it.

"There is a little more freedom and space [outside]. I can see the picture without linemen in front of me. My job is to set the edge and take care of the outside. I've got to be ready for anything."

Excited about the upcoming opportunity, Pittman knows that SEC power Tennessee will be a tough challenge for him and the rest of the defense.

"It's a big game," he said. "I'm looking forward to it. We're still getting mentally and physically prepared for it, but I think myself and the rest of the team will be ready."

What does Pittman envision the Volunteers trying to do on offense?

"They are going to try and run the ball on us," he said. "Hopefully our secondary takes care of the pass. We have to take care of that too, and as linebackers we have to stop the run. Coach Tenuta is preparing us for it.

"He is a hell of a coach. He really knows his stuff, and he makes us simulate practice starting in the meeting room. How we practice is how we are going to play in the game. He helps us a lot."

Defensive coordinator Mike Archer likes the progress Pittman has made both physically and mentally.

"He has great ability," Archer said of Pittman. "He can run and has great feet. We're going to keep coaching him and he'll get better.

"Number one, he has slowly learned what to do. He's still a true sophomore and is going to make mistakes, but Jon [Tenuta] has done a great job with him. I've watched him in the spring, and I watch him now. He makes mistakes, but he makes less and less mistakes, and then when he makes mistakes he knows what he did wrong. He can tell you what he did wrong, and that is part of it."

Pittman is the starter, but he knows that he isn't a finished product.

"I'm still figuring things out," he said, smiling. "I'm not perfect."

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