Kuhn: 'I'm Trying to Get Better'

RALEIGH, N.C. -- NC State signed Markus Kuhn in February out of Weinheim, Germany looking to bolster its defensive line.

Playing in the German Youth League for Weinheim, Markus Kuhn was named Rookie of the Year his first season. He was a four-time All-Star selection and three-time defensive Player of the Year for his squad.

However his stint on the gridiron in Germany was as an outside linebacker and now he is making the transition to defensive tackle.

"I'm playing defensive tackle," said Kuhn. "Right now I weigh 280 pounds, and the coaches feel like I have the frame to put more weight on. I think I'm looking pretty good at defensive tackle.

"I'm trying to adjust to American football the best that I can. I hope to make it on the travel squad because I hear it's very special to play as a true freshman. I think it would be really special for me being from Germany. I'm in America where I know a lot of great athletes would like to play here and they don't have the chance."

At 6-foot-5 and 280 pounds, Kuhn has impressed the coaches with his play.

"Markus right now is one of those freshmen probably on the bubble whether we're going to have to play him or not play him," said head coach Tom O'Brien. "He's done a very nice job. He's relentless, which is a word I use a lot about defensive guys I like.

"The thing about Markus is he doesn't have a lot of bad habits. He hasn't been playing American football for a long time. He's got to catch up in the football sense department, but if you tell him to do something, you show him the fundamental, and he works like heck to get it done. He has good habits. He's developing good football habits."

As it stands now, NC State appears to be three-deep at the defensive tackle. There seems to be a lot of rotating during fall practice to develop some depth at the position.

"The whole defensive line is rotating a lot," said Kuhn. "DeMario [Pressley] is playing left tackle, I'm playing left tackle, and John Bedics is playing left tackle. [Alan-Michael] Cash is playing right tackle and so are Ted Larsen and the other freshman, Wayne Crawford.

"We rotate a lot and sometimes I'm playing second-string and sometimes I'm playing third. I just try to make good plays in the scrimmages we have. Some of them I've looked good in and some of them I've been a little confused because of the adjustments. I'm trying to get better."

Kuhn is learning from the Pack's senior defensive tackle, Demario Pressley. A preseason All-ACC selection, Pressley is a seasoned veteran and is expected to anchor the line in 2007.

"He's helping me out every practice," said Kuhn. "Off-the-field we are good friends, and he's helping me with all the stuff I need to know and improve on. I just need to stay low and remain focused at all times."

"He's really, really good."
One player who has really impressed Kuhn is redshirt sophomore Alan-Michael Cash. Cash was productive in limited action in 2006, and he is expected to start alongside Pressley this year. At 6-foot-1 and 290 pounds, he could be an impact performer for the Wolfpack.

"Alan-Michael Cash is a great defensive tackle," Kuhn stated. "He's really good. He doesn't look like all of those big defensive tackles, but he is so quick and strong. He has incredible hands. You should see him sometimes with how he can use his hands against the offensive linemen and get into the backfield. He's really, really good."

Kuhn isn't the only newcomer who could contribute on the defensive line for the Wolfpack. 6-foot-3, 290-pound defensive end Antoine Holmes will definitely be in the mix for playing time. An All-American out of Lackawanna (PC) Junior College, Holmes is one of the strongest players on the team.

"Antoine is just unbelievably strong," said Kuhn. "I didn't know it, but he told me he was an All-American in Junior College. I can understand why after seeing him. I think he's one of the strongest guys on the team, and he's doing a great job. I think he's going to help our team."

Kuhn is in the mix for playing time, but he knows there is plenty of room for improvement. He is still adjusting to the speed of the game and learning the fundamentals needed to play in the trenches. However the biggest adjustment has been facing quality talent on every snap.

"What has been the biggest difference for me is pretty much the overall talent," he said. "All of the guys here are really fast... even if they don't look fast. The offensive line is so fast... when I played at first with the guards pulling away from you and the center coming at you it was a shock. I've adjusted pretty good, and I'm just trying to get better everyday."

He is in a unique situation. Not many players want to venture far away from home to attend college. Kuhn left his country to pursue his dream of playing football on the highest level.

"I'm very happy," said Kuhn. "Everybody is treating me really good, and it's great to be around everybody on this team. I've never been homesick, and I love it here."

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