Junior LB Stephen Tulloch was one of NC State's most talked about freshmen in 2003. Last season he was slowed somewhat by a nagging shoulder injury but now has his sights set on another huge, injury-free year. We caught up with the fiery ‘backer recently.
How does it feel to finally be getting after it again?
It feels good. I'm happy. I couldn't even sleep last night waiting to practice again. I haven't practiced since the last game of the season last year so just being able to come back and put the pads on and run with the guys making plays- it's a good feeling.
How is your health now?
I'm 100%. I feel good. My bench (press) is back to 425 (pounds). I'm not quite 465 yet but I'll get there. But I feel strong. I don't even think about it because I'm just ready for the season to start.
What did you do over the summer?
I stayed up here. I trained up here. I went to Arizona for a week of training. I did go down to Miami but I'm just trying to get my mind right. I feel good about my offseason training.
How involved was the rest of the team in workouts over the summer and was the dedication there that you like to see?
Oh, definitely. I mean, you look at Dajuan (Morgan), he probably dedicated himself more that a lot of people on this team will all the extra work. I mean the seven on seven's, staying after practice and just working as a team- that's how you build unity and trust. I definitely saw a lot of that this year.
Do you ever worry that the defensive line is going to hog all the plays?
Yeah, the thing about it is- I'm happy. It's great to have a defensive line like that because it allows me to make more plays as well because they have to double team and triple team Manny and Mario. Those guys up front are beasts and running backs, they'll be real timid. They'll start running east and west instead of north and south and as a linebacker, you want that. You want a RB going side to side so you can come in and make big plays.
Is there anyone in the LB corps that might surprise people?
Lerue Rumph. From where he started in the spring to where he is now, he's just a different player. The coaches are starting to gain trust in him to let him run with the first team and hopefully he can stay there. He's dedicated himself. We've stayed and watched film together and he's trying to do the little things. I think he's come along very well.
What are your expectations for this year?
Jacksonville. I'm not going to cut myself short. I mean, we're not going to cut ourselves short. We're trying to get to Jacksonville. It's the first ACC championship game this conference has ever had and we'd love to be there. NC State hasn't won an ACC championship since 1979 so it would be great for the fans. So, they're excited about it and we're excited as well.