Stuffing The Middle

RALEIGH, N.C. -- NC State is expected to have two multi-year starters returning at defensive tackle in seniors T.Y. McGill and Thomas Teal, and defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen is thrilled about having that returning experience.

NC State is expected to have two multi-year starters returning at defensive tackle in seniors Ty McGill and Thomas Teal, and defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen is thrilled about having that returning experience.

Teal has made 19.5 stops behind the line in the last two seasons, including a career-best 10.5 and three sacks in 2013. McGill finished last season with 25 tackles, five tackles for a loss, two sacks, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery.

"Both of those guys have played a lot of games," said Nielsen. "We love to rotate our defensive linemen, but it's certainly a positive in having two seniors who have played the amount of snaps those two have."

Even though the duo is experienced, Nielsen is adamant that there is competition up front and no starting jobs are guaranteed.

One player expected to figure prominently in the rotation is true sophomore Monty Nelson. Tabbed a second-team freshman All-American by Athlon, Nelson started five games in 2013 and finished the year with 32 tackles and 8.5 tackles for a loss.

"He's gotten better," Nielsen said of Nelson. "He's put on 20 pounds. It took him a couple of [spring]practices to get used to the weight, but he's played really well [in the spring]. We expect big things out of him."

Nielsen had similar expectations for last fall of fellow freshman Kenton Gibbs, who missed all of the 2014 season after suffering an Achilles injury. Head coach Dave Doeren raved about Gibson in the fall.

"He was going to play," said Doeren. "He had a really good camp."

"He's progressing back," Nielsen added. "He's gonna be a big part of what we're doing next year, too."

NC State added another defensive tackle in January when 2014 commitment B.J. Hill enrolled early. Hill played multiple positions at West Stanly (NC) High School and some believed he would line up at defensive end for the Wolfpack, but Hill came in and impressed right away inside at tackle.

He was playing some with the first team, so that was pretty cool," Nielsen said. "B.J., he's really focused on his fundamentals and techniques. From the last scrimmage in the spring to the spring game, he really improved."

Overall, Nielsen was pleased with what how the group progressed in the spring.

"They came out and work with great, great effort," he said. "That's helped us."


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