"Hud" is Ready for New Headlines

Somewhat lost amidst the storylines involving new quarterback Jay Davis, new defensive coordinator Reggie Herring and the tailback situation is the return of redshirt junior defensive back Marcus Hudson.

Somewhat lost amidst the storylines involving new quarterback Jay Davis, new defensive coordinator Reggie Herring and the tailback situation is the return of redshirt junior defensive back Marcus Hudson.

After starting 17 games at cornerback in his first two seasons and collecting 88 tackles and four interceptions, Hudson was involved in an off-the-field incident following his sophomore year, then had to sit out last season to focus on academics.

With so much negative press directed his way in the past year or more, one can't blame Hudson for being ready to see some new achievements attached to his name.

"I'm pretty much ready to start a new rapsheet," Hudson said. "It's not a problem, but every time I read the paper, it's ‘After sitting out last year, Marcus Hudson …' It always starts off like that. I'm ready to make it, ‘Marcus Hudson is doing this this year.' That's pretty much what I'm trying to get accomplished now. I'm ready for that step, to push that out of the way and start up new."

Hudson got off to a terrific start in that direction, racking up six tackles and an interception in 42 snaps in the season opener. He also pounced on a blocked punt for a touchdown in the 42-0 romp over Richmond.

Not only was it Hudson's first game since the regular-season finale in 2002, but it was also his first contest at free safety. Hudson beat out the incumbent, redshirt senior Troy Graham, to win starting honors at the spot.

He found out when safeties coach Manny Diaz pulled him aside after the team's second scrimmage fall camp and let him know he'd be the No. 1 free safety. Now the 6-2, 191-pound native of Homestead, Fla., is adjusting to the new position, which he feels gives him more freedom on the gridiron.

"It's been a good experience," said Hudson. "Now can get a little more versatility across the field. I can get the ball anytime I want now, instead of just being on one end of the field. It's been a good experience for me.

"I was coached in high school to play corner and free safety, so I was familiar with both of them. When I got recruited to come here to NC State, they recruited me as an actual safety, and I made the transition from safety to corner in camp [as a freshman]. So I've just switched roles and switched back.

"I'm pretty comfortable with either, or."

As a defensive back thrust into a starting role as a rookie, Hudson was among a number of young DBs to turn to Terrence Holt, a three-time all-conference selection, for guidance early in his Wolfpack career. Now Hudson is trying to make his mark at the same position where Holt left such a legacy in the Red and White.

"I'm not necessarily looking at film [of how Holt played the spot], but I know a lot of stuff that me and him experienced together in the secondary, and the pointers that he used to give me," said Hudson. "Now I just depend on Troy Graham and Andre [Maddox] the same way, because they were sitting in the film room with Terrence at the time, so the knowledge that he passed on, they're passing to me.

"Even though it's a different defense, there are still certain things that we have to look at from that same perspective. He pretty much left his trademark here, and we're trying to follow up to it."

Needless to say, his teammates are happy to see him back in action.

"It's awesome. Those guys got in a little bit of trouble, but they fought through it," said center Jed Paulsen, a member of the same recruiting class as Hudson. "They admitted their faults and have come back and been working hard and getting their grades up and everything. He's stepped up; he had an interception last week, and he's going to help us big-time back in the backfield."

Coach Chuck Amato said that the competition between Hudson and Graham for the free safety spot was perhaps the most fiercely contested of fall camp. However, both players maintained their friendship, recognizing that there would plenty of snaps for both no matter how the battle played out.

"In my eyes, I don't even see it as competing for the starting job," Hudson said. "We're both out there trying to make each other better. If there's something I don't know, he's telling me; if there's something he doesn't know, I'm telling him. So it's necessarily like we're competing for a starting job, because in a way, Troy has to learn two positions now. He's playing the rover also, behind Andre.

"There's no bitter blood between us; it's love."

That's an emotion that Hudson had plenty of as he sat out last season. Though it ate him up inside to have to stay on the sidelines, he leaned on those close to him extensively to help him through the difficult times.

"It was pretty much my whole family and a couple of cats from the team," said Hudson. "They would just ask me how I was doing, [and ask] ‘Are you doing good with your schoolwork?' And that there alone just let me know that they're ready for me to come back. Most of my support came from my family. I leaned on my brothers, my mother and my father, and they just told me to stay positive and keep going at it, because they know that I can get my life straight and I can do right.

"It wasn't a big pressure, but I had to buckle down and focus on a lot more things in life, instead of trying to do everything at once."

The personable Hudson holds himself in a manner that belies his age. He looks the questioner in the eye, is very respectful in demeanor and wants to know the name of every interviewer. It's all part of a maturity that was formed largely due to last year's setback.

"I look at life different now," said Hudson. "Instead of participating in silliness, I just sit back and watch it. I think, ‘I used to be in his shoes, I used to do that.' It doesn't even have to be any mischief, just like hanging out or whatever.

"I've been saying this repeatedly over all interviews; the first thing I say about my whole experience of sitting out last year is I look at life different now."

With more performances like the one he had in the campaign's first game, Hudson will get his wish – and all those interviews will be about the present and future, rather than the past.

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