Wake's DL Duo

Wake Forest may be struggling, but it isn't because of the play of defensive linemen Nikita Whitlock and Zach Thompson.

Wake Forest may be struggling, but it isn't because of the play of defensive linemen Nikita Whitlock and Zach Thompson.

Whitlock, in particularly, has been outstanding. Undersized at 5-foot-11 and 250 pounds, he is a disruptive force at defensive tackle, using his quickness and fundamentals to make plays.

The redshirt senior currently ranks 8th in the ACC in tackles (34), the most for a defensive tackle, and leads the league in tackles for a loss (9).

"It seems like he's been there forever," said NC State senior offensive guard Duran Christophe, laughing. "I remember I was a sophomore starting down there at Wake Forest and I thought he was a senior. Nikita, he was All-ACC last year, so obviously he's a great player.

"We have Rogers Clark on our scout team, and he's been playing Nikita Whitlock ever since he's been here. He does a great job of it, so I think we'll be ready."

"He uses his hands, he's quick-twitch," NC State head coach Dave Doeren said of Whitlock. "He plays hard, and he's a good athlete. He's been playing a long time so his game experience and play recognition is at a high level."

Joining Whitlock up front is redshirt senior defensive end Zach Thompson, who was recruited by the Wolfpack out of Ashburn (VA) Stone Bridge High School. The 6-foot-5, 265-pound pass-rusher has tallied 24 tackles, six tackles for a loss, and three sacks.

Doeren praised both players during his weekly press conference.

"Two guys I would love to have... No. 50 [Nikita] Whitlock and No. 98 [Zach] Thompson," Doeren stated. "I think both of them combined have 16 tackles for loss and seven sacks.

"They're very disruptive, they're very good with their hands, they have high motors, they play with their shoulders square, and their knees bent and they play hard. I think they are really good football players."

Offensive coordinator Matt Canada is aware of them as well, and know just how disruptive they can be.

"They are both really good players that play really, really hard," said Canada. "They are disruptive guys who we need to where they are at all times."

NC State's offense hasn't faced a one-two punch like Whitlock and Thompson this season. To win this game, they are going to have to keep both of them in check.


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