Tocho: "I Can't Wait To Play"

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Jack Tocho arrived at NC State this summer without much fanfare.

Jack Tocho arrived at NC State without much fanfare.

A two-star, unrated recruit, Tocho's commitment prior to his senior season at Independence High School wasn't considered a huge coup, as he picked the Wolfpack over offers from Army and Ball State.

However, NC State head coach Dave Doeren seemed impressed with Tocho's ability and maturity.

"I know coach McNutt enjoyed getting to know Jack and just how serious he was," Doeren said of Tocho on signing day. "We don't have a lot of depth in the secondary, so we're getting a guy in Jack that is mature mentally and you know he is going to handle his business off the field and in the classroom.

"Those are the guys that are normally mature enough to handle playing early if you need them to do it, especially on special teams."

Tocho is proving Doeren right, as his impressive play during fall camp has the true freshman in the mix for immediate playing time.

"Camp has been productive for me," said Tocho. "I'm always listening to the coaches in meetings and taking notes... I have pages and pages of notes. I've worked my way up to first-team nickel and dime and I'm second-team corner.

"I am also on all the special teams as well right now so I believe I'm going to play."

Tocho has made his mark by being able to lock up wide receivers in man coverage. For him, that is what has come easy because of how he was used at Independence.

"I was actually a linebacker as a sophomore," said Tocho, laughing. "When my coach moved me to corner he told me there was only going to be one rule. He said we would be playing 10-on-10... no matter what the coverage was I'd be in man.

"So, for the last two years I would be in man coverage with the other team's best wide receiver, and we played some good ones. There was Channing Stribling, Uriah LeMay, Zach Ferguson... we played a lot of good receivers that I had to cover one-on-one."

But, Tocho now looks back at his time at linebacker as a blessing in disguise. He believes it is a big reason why he has been able to emerge as potentially NC State's first-string nickel/dime cornerback... where he has to defend slot receivers when the Wolfpack brings another defensive back on the field.

"Playing there is different because you have more area to cover," said Tocho. "But, I think playing linebacker early on helps me. I have a sense of playing in there, in all that space. I feel comfortable in there because it's where I've been before."

Still, Tocho admits there has been some adjustments he's had to make. For him, it didn't take long to realize college is a different level than high school.

"It clicked the first time we put on full pads," he said. "At Independence I wouldn't say it was less physical, but I mainly had to just tackle my receiver because I was in man so much. Out here, I had to realize that I needed to use my strength and be even more physical early on."

Tocho has been battling an injury late in camp but is expected to be ready for the season opener. It's something he is looking forward to.

"I'm very excited," said Tocho. "I can't wait to play. Camp has been a grind... I'm ready for Saturday."

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