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August 21, 2012
Linebackers that were listed on the 2012 organizational chart combined for just 43 snaps from scrimmage last season, so the position group is obviously one of the Wolfpack's biggest question marks heading into the fall. It certainly doesn't help that true sophomore Michael Peek, the owner of 29 of those snaps, was recently lost for the season, either.
However, redshirt junior Rickey Dowdy, who is listed atop the organizational chart at weakside linebacker and has one career snap under his belt, is confident that the group will be able to produce this year and help the NC State defense.
"It's going real good," the 6-2, 240-pounder said of fall camp. "We've come out here every day, gotten better and competed during practice. Once the season gets here, we know what we need to do to take care of business.
"The linebackers have been doing real good. We're working together as a unit. When we see each other mess up, we give encouragement and tell each other what's right and what's wrong. We're jelling real good."
One aspect that gives Dowdy great confidence in his position group is the presence of fifth-year senior Sterling Lucas in the middle of the defense. Lucas redshirted last year following a knee injury suffered in preseason practice, but is the unit's most experienced player as a veteran of 36 games and two starts.
"Sterling is basically another coach on the field, that's why he's our captain," Dowdy noted. "He knows every position and where everybody is supposed to be.
"I'm feeling good about the upcoming season. I'm not really worried about me as an individual because there's 10 other guys out there with me. I'm just doing what I can to make this team better."
Right now, that includes Dowdy playing on the both the strongside and weakside, while the coaches find the top combination of linebackers and where they fit in best.
"Nobody has a starting position," Dowdy said. "We're all still fighting, so we never know where we're going to end up. All of [the linebacker positions] are the same, we just have to go out there, produce and make plays."
During his first three years on campus, Dowdy has enjoyed the chance to work behind former NC State stars like Nate Irving, Terrell Manning and Audie Cole, who are all now in the NFL. He draws inspiration from that trio, who were all once in his shoes as the inexperienced defender trying to find their way onto the field.
"I give all the credit to those guys, they're playing at the next level, where I want to be," he said. "I've learned and studied the techniques and things that they did to make my game better. Just sitting back, watching them produce and taking separate things from their games has really helped me out.
"They were a big help and they taught me a lot. I look up to those guys a lot."
Dowdy, who briefly played defensive end during his time in Raleigh, said that he can bring a big body to the linebacking corps that specializes in getting after the passer.
"Since I was a pass rusher in high school, I feel like my versatility, being as big as I am and my speed off the edge will help this team's pass rushing game," he said. "[Playing defensive end] was a good experience, it was something I was used to from high school. It helps me out because now I have the advantage of standing up, instead of coming from a three-point stance.
"We've worked hard and prepared for the season, so we'll be ready."