Last month, the Wolfpack secured a verbal commitment from underrated in-state linebacker Nathaniel Irving, a 6-foot-3, 215-pound athlete from Wallace-Rose Hill High School in Teachey, North Carolina.
"I called and told Coach Amato that I was committing to State," Irving said. "It was a great conversation because he seemed so happy about it. He was real excited. We just talked about my decision and how I was going to play outside linebacker for them."
Wallace-Rose Hill is one of the premier prep programs in the state, and Irving started to emerge as a junior when he piled up 110 tackles, six forced fumbles and 12 all-purpose touchdowns. Irving starred at tight end, linebacker, and defensive end for the Bulldogs, and his recruitment really picked up after this spring's Shrine Bowl combine. At the Snow Hill (NC) combine, Irving posted a solid 4.59-second 40-yard dash, a 4.32-second shuttle, and an impressive 29-inch vertical leap. His combination of size, athleticism, and on-field production intrigued the Wolfpack.
That combine helped me out a lot," Irving said. "It proved to colleges that my numbers were legit. At that point, schools really started to recruit me even harder."
Irving also received a scholarship offer from East Carolina and had been drawing interest from North Carolina and Clemson prior to verbaling to NC State. Why did he choose to play for the Wolfpack?
"A big factor was academics," said Irving. "They have my major, and State has a really good football program. It is also close to home, so my family can come watch me play.
"It was all about education for me. State is one of the top schools around here so I figured where else could I be playing the sport I love and studying the major I love."
As a senior, Irving leads the Bulldogs in tackles, with over 125 tackles, four sacks, and two interceptions. He has played a variety of positions in high school, but was recruited to play outside linebacker by the Wolfpack.
"I've played tight end, defensive end, and all the linebacker spots for us," Irving said. "At State, they want me to just focus on outside linebacker. I think that will help me become even better because I will be just playing one position and can keep improving at that spot."
Irving will conclude his high school career with the annual Shrine Bowl, and he feels it is an honor to play in the prestigious game.
"Going into the season, that was one of my personal goals," he said. "It's an honor to play in that game. To play with the best players in the state, that's what it's all about."
With signing day a few months away, don't expect Irving to waver in his decision. He is fully committed to the Wolfpack.
"No chance," he said. "I'm solid and committed to State. They have everything I'm looking for in a college. It is the place for me."