Wolfpack's Irving out for the season, O'Brien says
Posted August 13, 2009
Updated August 14, 2009
Raleigh, N.C. — N.C. State linebacker Nate Irving is out for the season, Wolfpack coach Tom O'Brien said Thursday.
“He was our No. 1-rated defensive player,” O’Brien said. “When you lose your best player, it always makes an impact on the defense and makes an impact on the football team.”
Irving suffered multiple injuries in a June car accident when returning to Raleigh from his home in Wallace. O'Brien said a doctor evaluated Irving's leg Thursday.
“[The doctor] told him it's best if he sat out this year,” O’Brien said. “He still has appointments. Certainly, we're going to plan to play without him.”
O'Brien said Irving, given how mangled the car was, was lucky to be alive. He suffered a broken leg and a collapsed lung in the wreck.
Irving was traveling on I-40 West when he dozed off and ran off the road around 4:30 a.m., said Capt. Everett Clendenin, a spokesman for the state Highway Patrol. Irving tried to regain control but the vehicle ran off the road and struck two trees.
"I remember leaving home, and I woke up in the hospital,” Irving said. "To be here today as I am now, I'm pretty blessed. And to be able to have another chance to play football later on down the road is another blessing, so I don't have any complaints."
Irving has one year of eligibility remaining after this season.
“Who knows? If we get ourselves to a January bowl, maybe six months – I think that's what they're saying – he might be there if he can play,” O’Brien said. “We're not going to put him in there just to say we played Nate Irving this year. He's got to be a functional member of the football team.”
State is scheduled to play Dwayne Maddox, a sophomore, at linebacker to replace Irving. Maddox moved into the starting lineup last season when Irving was injured in the East Carolina game, but the Wolfpack wasn't close to being the same team with Irving out.
“The positive side was [Irving’s wreck] happened before we started camp, so it gave us an opportunity to rectify that situation as best we can,” O’Brien said.