George: Pack Has Something to Prove

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Koyal George has been on the NC State roster for five years. For most of them, he hasn't been at the top of the depth chart or been considered one of the team's leaders. He only has two career starts.

Koyal George, from tiny Havelock, N.C., walked onto the football team in 2005, but it wasn't until the spring of 2008 that he earned a scholarship. The key word is earned.

Heading into his fifth and final season with the Wolfpack, George is a starter at corner and has turned into one of the players the defense will rely on heavily throughout the season. His story is one of perseverance and humility. For George, the opportunity to start is something he wants to make the best of.

"It's a blessing, that's what it is," he said. "I just worked so hard and finally the opportunity presents itself so now I have to make the best of it."

George said he started to think he would get the nod from Coach O'Brien when he was practicing with the first team during the last couple weeks, but didn't want to let himself think he would be the starter.

"I was thinking about it for sure but I wasn't going around saying ‘I'm the starter' or anything, that's up to Coach O'Brien," George said. "We started practicing for South Carolina and forming the two-deep and I was out there with the first team so it started to take a toll. It was a relief to know but I have to perform in order to keep playing with the first team."

After Coach O'Brien announced the two-deep Friday, George said he talked with his family and friends from the close-knit Havelock area, a place George said he wants to help "put on the map."

"I always talk to my family first. They always tell me to keep my head, keep God first and not get big headed or anything like that," he said. "A lot of people have been texting me and calling me and writing on my Facebok wall."

When George and the rest of the Wolfpack hit the field Thursday against the Gamecocks, George said the experience from starting against Florida State and Miami should definitely help.

"This is a different atmosphere," George said of the national audience for the South Carolina game. "I started against Florida State last year and that was a big ESPN game but that was like my debut so this year I feel more comfortable. I'm not saying I'm going to out there and get five interceptions but I'm way more comfortable."

As for the Wolfpack secondary, which may be the biggest question mark on the team heading into the season, George said he is confident the group can surprise people with its performance.

"We've been practicing pretty well," he said. "Coach stay on us about watching film outside meetings and getting in extra. We have to prove ourselves Thursday because I know they are going to come out throwing the ball because C.J. [Wilson] and I are still inexperienced in a sense. But we have Justin [Byers] and Clem [Johnson] backing us up at safety so we'll be alright."

George said he knows what the 2009 edition of the Wolfpack is capable of, but said the team needs to stay humble and play one game at a time.

"We know that everybody knows we're not a team to sleep on anymore. We need to just settle down and take one game at a time," he said. "We're not ranked in the top 25 so we still have something to prove. We haven't done anything yet. People have heard about us but we're still 0-0 so until we get something going then we should never have a big head."

For his personal goals in his senior season, George didn't say he wanted 10 interceptions or a ton of big plays. He just wants to play well enough to be selected for the Senior Bowl, the post-season bowl for seniors trying to make it in the NFL. If George makes it to Mobile in January, it will certainly be something he's earned.

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