Kuhn Ready for First Start

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Markus Kuhn knew that the jump from German football to collegiate football would be tough. It didn't take long for his teammates to remind him.

Markus Kuhn knew that the jump from German football to collegiate football would be tough. It didn't take long for his teammates to remind him.

"It was on the first play," Kuhn said. "I started off in the third string against a friend of mine [Andrew Redfern] and he's a walk-on. I looked at him and thought, ‘I'm probably gonna dominate him.'

"But right on the first play I was like ‘Oh, oh my God' and then another friend of mine Kalani [Heppe] said, ‘Markus, welcome to Division I football.' So that was pretty much my welcome to American football."

Kuhn, a true freshman, isn't your normal first-year college player. Kuhn spent the four years prior to coming to the Wolfpack playing for the Weinheim Longhorns in his native country of Germany. The Pack recruited Kuhn entirely from tape, and the defensive lineman committed before even making an official visit. When asked to describe the difference between American and German football, the freshman was bluntly honest.

"Slower... not that hard," Kuhn said. "The guys aren't that big of athletes. It's just more fun to play here because it's a difference if you play in front of 60,000 people or 500."

"It was the highest league in Germany but you definitely cannot compare the level to the level of football we have here - it's unbelievable," Kuhn said. "I was shocked when we came over here the first time because you have athletes that are so heavy and so big and still can move really fast. You have to get adjusted to it and that's something I'm working on every day and getting better and better."

One advantage Kuhn has over most freshman is his maturity. He is already 21 years old and carries 279 pounds on his 6-foot-5 frame. His physical maturity has helped him adjust to a completely different brand of football here in the states.

"I think body-wise I might have an advantage compared to guys who are 18 or 19," Kuhn said. "Just my frame is a little bit bigger already."

Head coach Tom O'Brien, who plugged Kuhn into the defensive rotation starting with the Pack's game against Boston College, has been impressed with Kuhn's work ethic

"We knew that he could run and was a physical presence," O'Brien said. "He still has a long ways to go, but he has a knack for doing a couple of things. He's physical and he runs to the football. He's always hustling... those are tremendous qualities to start with."

Kuhn has played in two games so far on the season, and saw extensive time against Wofford on Saturday. The German native recorded seven tackles and a pass breakup in the game as the Pack snapped a nine-game losing streak with the win.

"We just practiced like we do every week and as soon as the game came I was ready," Kuhn said. "I think the whole defensive line had a pretty good game."

He'll see the field even more this week, as an injury to John Bedics pushes the freshman to the top of the depth chart as he will be making the first start of his collegiate career. Kuhn will also have his work cut out for him as the Pack faces two of the ACC's best running backs, Clemson's James Davis and C.J. Spiller.

"I will just try to give it my best." Kuhn said. "The whole team is looking forward to this game. We are working hard, and we really want to keep winning right now."

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