RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — It’s not often a college football player lands on campus and immediately works his way into the starting lineup. It takes time to adjust to the speed of the game. But there comes a time in every game when the backups need to play at key points in the contest. Getting those players to experience those moments can be a juggling act for coaches.
“Yeah it depends on how the game’s going, we’re playing to win,” said NC State defensive coordinator Tony Gibson. “We’re playing to keep people off the scoreboard so obviously we’re worried about that first unit first and see who else earns the right to play.”
It didn’t take Shyheim Battle long to earn his right to play. The Rocky Mount standout won a starting job in his redshirt freshman campaign. Battle feels he was able to start so quickly because of the work he put in both on and off the field his first year at State.
“I think as a backup you have to take a lot more mental reps and that’s what’s really going to help you because you don’t get a whole lot of playing time,” said NC State defensive back Shyheim Battle. “Being able to know the game mentally and also challenge yourself to stay focused even though you’re not playing as much as you want to helped me out the most.”
When a backup player’s number is called, he’d better be ready because the game will come at you fast and furious. The difference between the level of play from the second team to the first team is striking.
“It definitely sped it up a lot going from the second team to the first team is a different speed and trying to adjust to that really helps making sure you’re staying on par with the ones,” said NC State tackle Timothy McKay.
Because becoming a one, is ultimately what every player is working towards.