Midway through your high school career you moved to Greenville, North Carolina from Douglas, Georgia. What was that like?
[Laughing] Tough. As soon as I got here I wanted to go back to Georgia. I missed it a lot.
You had a very good junior season, but it seems like things really picked up when you performed well at the U.S. Army All-American Combine. Can you talk about that?
That was a great experience for me. I know that's when my name really got out there and I started getting all of my scholarship offers, but I also knew that's when it was going to get crazy with recruiting.
Back then, which was about this time last year, you were reportedly leaning to schools like Georgia and Florida State. Why was that?
I wanted to go back to Georgia. I wanted to go back home and Douglas, it's close to Tallahassee and then you have the University of Georgia too.
But, as time passed I grew closer to my coaches and teammates in North Carolina. It's almost like I started to see myself as a North Carolina kid.
You seemed to not really be mentioning NC State at all, but that changed early in the spring when you took an unofficial visit prior to the Wolfpack's Spring Game. What was it about that trip?
The visit was great. I had a chance to spend a lot of time with the coaches and get to know them even more, and I got a great vibe from the experience.
I've always felt it was a great place to play and that if I was going to stay in North Carolina that State was the best school in the state. I can check on my teammates and with NC State being right up the road I can be close to my family too.
Do you remember what the NC State coaches were saying to you at that time?
They told me they wanted the best players in the state. They wanted a leader, leaders in PACK14. They told me they needed a guy to be the face of PACK14, and they believed I could be that guy. That meant a lot to me.
Shortly after that trip you stated that NC State was your new leader, but you didn't commit. However, State started to pick up a bunch of local commitments. Did you notice that?
They led right after that visit, and it got even stronger after Deshaywn Middleton committed because he's like my brother. We went to the Army All-American Bowl combine together, and to have him commit in the summer, that really caught my eye. Then when Justin Jones and Deonte Holden committed, I sort of knew it was going to be State.
I knew I'd have a lot of guys coming in with me that I've competed with or against, and I know what they bring to the table. I know what kind of mentality they have, and with all of us coming in, we can keep bringing in other great recruits.
If I remember correctly, one of the first games of your senior season was against Coult Culler, a NC State commitment out of Laney High School. What do you remember about him and that game?
[Laughing] My coach was talking about him all week. It's funny because I remember how we talked about him probably being shorter than what they listed him at because that's what happens a lot of the time. You don't see many 6'5 linebackers, but he's 6'5, and he's out there flying around and knocking our wide receivers out.
He's a great player, really good leader... aggressive. After that game we talked about NC State and taking our official visit together.
Anything else really stand out from your senior season?
Throughout my senior season every team we faced had what seemed like a bunch of Wolfpack fans cheering me on. Even some of the players were asking me to go to NC State. That made my decision easier for me, that and knowing the relationship I had with the coaches. It became a no-brainer.
It looked like you were going to take your recruitment to Signing Day but after narrowing it down to NC State, Ole Miss, LSU, and Miami you picked the Wolfpack in mid-December. Why did you do it then?
The process was really grueling, and it took a big toll on me and my coaches. Almost everyday my coaches and my parents were getting bugged by coaches and recruiters, and I didn't want to put them to that anymore.
That day I committed I thought about it, and just realized that there's no other college I'm going to feel the same connection with. I was so comfortable at NC State, I knew I wanted to be a Wolfpack.
How did the NC State coaches react?
Coach Nielsen and coach Kitchings were coming in for a visit so it worked out perfectly for me.
Coach Nielsen saw me wearing a State hat and he asked me if it was a sign, and I told him I wanted to commit. He went crazy. Then we talked to coach Doeren, and he went crazy. Coach Kitchings was a couple of minutes away when I called him, and he went crazy. I remember him saying he almost drove off the road. That was a great day.
It seems like your relationship with the coaches, especially coach Kitchings and coach Nielsen, played a big role in your decision.
I really had a great relationship with all the coaches. Coach Kitchings, I've known him for a long time, and he's just a great guy. I do feel like I can talk to him about anything.
"Coach Nielsen, our bond is real strong. We have great chemistry. He's a well-rounded coach that knows how to talk to his players on the field and away from it. During the recruiting process I thought most of the SEC coaches were all about business, it didn't feel as personal or genuine. They didn't seem like guys I could be myself around. That's not the case with coach Nielsen. We had an instant connection.
You were able to make your decision official a couple of weeks ago on Signing Day. What do you remember most about that day?
I signed, but it was a horrible day. I had an abscess in my tooth so I think I was drugged up most of the day. It was awful.
On Signing Day coach Doeren stated that he believed they signed the best defensive player in the state when you signed. What does that mean to you?
I'm really grateful. Coach Doeren is a great coach. They've done a great job this season, even without all the wins. For me, it was just a major thing that drove me to them, the belief that they needed impact players to take the program to the next level and their belief that I can be one of those guys.
I feel like with PACK14 we can come in and make an impact right away. I at least hope that we do.
How would you describe your game?
I feel like I'm really great against the run but my pass-rushing skills are a little raw. A lot of the teams we played against here at Rose and in Georgia, they ran a wishbone or an offense like that, so I had to really get strong at defending the run. I was dealing with counters, down blocks, reach blocks... 90% of the game was that it seemed like.
I know I can improve and that's why I'm excited about going to NC State and working with coach Nielsen. I do think he can get the best out of me.
Do you have any expectations for your freshman season?
The plan is for me to come in and compete for a starting job. Coach Nielsen isn't guaranteeing any playing time or even starting, but he said that they will give everybody a shot to play right away. That's what I'm hoping to do.