NCHSAA SEC Members
Wolff Star on Defense for NC STATE
September 15, 2012Hoke County High School
Earl Wolff intercepted six passes and returned three for touchdowns as a junior free safety at Hoke County High School.
The performance earned Wolff All-Mid-Southeastern 4-A Conference honors. But he received little attention from college recruiters until then-Hoke County coach Greg Bryant (now Westover head coach) alerted N.C. State offensive line coach Jim Bridge.
Based on Bryant's recommendation, Bridge invited Wolff to the Wolfpack's football camp prior to his senior year at Hoke.
"He had good skills, good reaction and he could run,'' N.C. State coach Tom O'Brien said. "We thought he was a heck of a player and offered him a scholarship.
"He's proved us right.''
Indeed, Wolff has become a player O'Brien refers to as "the heart of the defense'' for N.C. State. Now in his third and final season as the Wolfpack's boundary safety, Wolff is emerging as an all-star candidate.
The 6-foot, 207-pounder is off to an exceptional start in 2012, collecting a team-leading 14.5 tackles, two tackles for loss and an interception in N.C. State's first two games.
Wolff played a key role in last week's 10-7 victory at Connecticut. He made seven tackles, intercepted a pass and recovered a key fumble in the third period to set up N.C. State's only touchdown. The performance earned Wolff the Atlantic Coast Conference's Defensive Back of the Week honors.
That's not too shabby for a player who only received a single scholarship offer coming out of high school.
"I was kind of wondering why nobody was recruiting me,'' Wolff said earlier this year. "I was an all-conference player my junior year, but until N.C. State and Coach Bridge came along I didn't have any real interest. I just wanted a chance to prove myself, and N.C. State gave me that chance.''
Wolff has been a mainstay in the Wolfpack secondary since his redshirt freshman year in 2009. He enters today with 32 career starts to his credit and a college degree already to his credit.
Credits for a degree in sports management were completed by Wolff last year, and he received his diploma in May. He's spending this year taking classes in food nutrition and studying the nuances of football through film review.
"Watching a lot of film allows you to become more instinctive,'' Wolff said. "It gives you confidence because when a play occurs, you recognize it from watching film and can react quicker because you know what they're going to do.
"The film study has made me a better player.''
Despite leaving the UConn game with an injury, Wolff is expected to be back in the lineup today when the Wolfpack meets South Alabama in its home opener.
Wolff's presence is vital for N.C. State's defense. He's not only one of the team's top playmakers, but he's become an emotional leader for the defensive unit.
"Every day I come out and try to keep everybody hyped up,'' Wolff said. "A lot of people say I'm dramatic. But I do it purposely because I feel like it helps my team.''
O'Brien is sure it does.
"Earl comes from a military family, and a lot of time those kids have leadership qualities because they're around career military people,'' O'Brien said. "They understand teamwork, leadership and all those things. Those are good guys for me to recruit, especially if they've got the (football) skills to play for us.
"Earl has that skill, the work ethic and those leadership abilities, and we're glad he's with us.''