More Airius?

NC State head coach Dave Doeren originally didn't believe Airius Moore would be a part of the 2014 recruiting class, but a late need at linebacker, and a Wolfpack alum, played a role in Moore heading to Raleigh.

NC State head coach Dave Doeren originally didn't believe Airius Moore would be a part of the 2014 recruiting class, but a late need at linebacker, and a Wolfpack alum, played a role in Moore heading to Raleigh.

"Airius came to camp last summer, and we loved him at camp," said Doeren. "He was very impressive, but at the time we weren't taking another linebacker... scholarships were distributed a different way. We got into the season and felt like with injuries... we needed another.

"It happened that one of the guys who trained Airius, he played here, Tramain Hall is his name. He said that if you guys want to talk to Airius he's committed to Indiana, but he'd be interested in talking to you because he loved it when he visited. We got him on the phone and found a way to make it work for him."

Moore, technically, wasn't a member of the Wolfpack's recruiting class in February. Although he publicly switched his commitment from Indiana to NC State, he was tabbed a "blueshirt," a player who arrives on campus as a walk-on in August and can then go on scholarship after fall camp begins. Because of that, he didn't sign with NC State in February and was never able to take an official visit to Raleigh.

Doeren says that Moore immediately started to flash in practice, but his limited time on campus impacted his knowledge of the defense.

"Airius didn't fool us," said Doeren. "[Jerod] Fernandez went through spring ball and had a good spring and went through fall camp and had a good fall, and Airius was behind him, knowledge-wise. But, when you turned on film of [Moore] in blitz periods or seven-on-seven you could see that he had it."

Moore started third on the depth chart at middle linebacker, but an injury to projected starter M.J. Salahuddin landed the true freshman on the two-deep. He played sparingly the first seven games, but Fernandez's one-game suspension due to a BB gun incident led to [Moore] getting his first career start at Louisville.

"He played about 20 snaps the week before, so we saw him in the game the week before," said Doeren. "I told Dave [Huxtable] the minute we started practicing that week that I was really, really excited to watch that guy against Louisville. I thought he was going to play really well."

Moore did just that.

It wasn't just the stat line, but that was darn good too, as he finished with a team-high eight tackles, including seven solo hits, two tackles for a loss, and a sack.

What really stood out was how Moore jumped off the screen. The blitzing sack where he hurdles the blocker to hit the quarterback... then another sack that he forced. How about the touchdown that happened, but didn't happen, where he scooped up, what looked like a fumble, and eluded several Cardinals on his way to the endzone?

"We're going to have to use him a lot in pressure packages," said Doeren. "He's a really, really good football player. He's smart, he's quick, he's tough. He learns fast. It's starting to grow, some things that we can do, linebacker-wise, now that we know he can do some of those things."

Fernandez will be back in uniform for the Wolfpack this week against Syracuse, and Doeren pointed out that there is now competition at the middle linebacker position. However, he also indicated that the two freshmen could be playing together as well.

"Airius definitely deserves playing time," said Doeren. "Coach Huxtable has already talked about him playing a lot, not just at Mike, but in some of our sub packages, and finding a way to use him and Jerod even together at times.

"When you play the way he did, you're going to earn playing time. And he did."


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