Pandemic offers NC State seniors a chance to come back for an extra season

ACC Football

RALEIGH, NC – OCTOBER 08: Justin Witt #67 of the North Carolina State Wolfpack leads his team onto the field during the game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Carter Finley Stadium on October 8, 2016 in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Twelve North Carolina State seniors will take the field for the final time at Carter Finley Stadium on Saturday. Or will they? This is a unique season due to the pandemic where all seniors are eligible to come back for another season if they want.

Joe Sculthorpe has the opportunity to suit up one last season for the Wolfpack, but he said he’s concentrating on finishing this season strong and leading the Pack to a school-record 7th ACC win. He’ll decide after the bowl game.

“After that, then that’s when I will start having a conversation with family and coaches and figure something out,” Sculthorpe said. “But until the season is officially over, I’m going to hold off until that moment.”

N.C. State head coach Dave Doeren said he will sit down with the seniors and help decide what is best for the player. That conversation will be open and direct, according to Doeren.

“I just think you’ve got to be honest with them in any of these situations,” Doeren said. “Where a guy has that decision, I always start with, ‘Do you think you can get better by coming back?'”

“There’s examples of that. Ryan Finley and Bradley Chubb both came back because there were things they felt like they could get better at and improve themselves from the NFL standpoint.”

And there were others who felt like they had nothing left to prove.

“Nyheim (Hines) is a guy who said, ‘Coach, I can run a 4.3 (40-yard dash) today and I’ll run a 4.3 next year,'” Doeren laughed. ‘”I’m not going to get taller. I’m not going to get heavier. I just had 1,000 yards.’ So, in his case, it made sense (to leave early for the NFL).”

Doeren would have loved to have had Hines return for his senior year, but he knew it was best for him to go pro.

“It’s not about me,” Doeren said. “It’s not about trying to make next year’s team better. It’s about making sure they’re very at peace with their decision. The last thing I want to do is to talk a guy into something he’s not all in on.”

There are no players the caliber of Finley, Chubb, or Hines in this years N.C. State senior class, but there will still be tough decisions to be made.

Should Doeren welcome back a senior who might take playing time away from a junior of equal ability? Would that senior get better with another season? Or maybe it’s just time to get on with a career.

“If they’re coming back, they’re coming back because it’s what they want in their heart,” Doeren said.

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