Tocho Ready To Lead

RALEIGH, N.C. -- NC State sophomore Jack Tocho could be in for a breakout season after starting seven games in 2013 as a true freshman.

Jack Tocho enrolled in 2013 not knowing what to expect.

Rated a two-star recruit by, expectations were relatively low for Tocho, who signed with the Pack over offers from Ball State and Army. However, he quickly proved that he had the talent to not only play in the ACC, but to do so right away.

Tocho played in all 12 games and started the final seven, totaling 25 tackles, five passes defended, three pass breakups, and two interceptions from his cornerback position.

Still, the Pack struggled to a 3-9 record and Tocho admits he had to deal with outside noise.

"It was tough, trying to stay positive," he stated. "You have a lot of people outside telling you how the team is, negatively, and you don't want that coming in as a freshman.

"You want to be excited about playing but when people talk about how bad the team is it can bring the morale down."

A year later, Tocho says that he is a different player... and better.

"I'm established now," he said. "I'm acclimated to the environment and have my rookie year under my belt.

"I feel way more confident. Last year was nerve-wracking trying to earn a spot and playing time, but now I feel more comfortable. I can just focus on my abilities and techniques... that's what I've been doing. When I first learn a technique I can get robotic, so I've been working even harder to be more fluid on the field."

Part of the reason for Tocho's optimism is the experience he gained as a true freshman. Although the team was losing, he and several others were able to play plenty of snaps.

"It was critical," he stated. "We were able to get it in a year that wasn't going well for us. You can practice as much as you want, but it's not the same as a game. Being able to play was huge for not just me but a lot of us."

The 6-foot-1, 201-pounder also notices more depth at his position. Last year NC State's secondary was thin. When players went down, others had to shift around to try and compensate, but the Wolfpack added several newcomers this fall.

Tocho sees it every day on the practice field.

"I'm not as sore after practice," he said, laughing. "The depth is noticeable. I think in the spring we only had three scholarship corners and that wore us down, but now we have much more depth and can play fresher.

"We have three new freshmen and all of them have really caught my eye. They are developing a lot better than I did last year. They seem to have a lot more knowledge of the game, as far as techniques."

As a whole, NC State's 2014 recruiting class has impressed Tocho.

"It was a big class, and physically, we brought in a bunch of sophomores," he said. "At least, that's what it feels like. When we go with the two's there is no drop-off, even to the freshmen. It's like we're all on the same level."

Tocho is locked in as the starter at the left cornerback position, and cornerbacks coach George Barlow raved about his play in practice.

"Jack is very talented and has nice size and nice ability," said Barlow. "But the thing that makes him special is that he's a student of the game. He continues to try to do everything exactly how I ask him to do it.

"He's improved on his technique and his confidence. He has the ability to be one of the better corners in the ACC."

What is Tocho hoping for this season? Redemption.

"This will be a redemption year for all of us," he said. "We'll be the underdogs, but we can't let outside opinions impact how we feel. We just have to get after it."

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