RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – North Carolina State linebacker Drake Thomas had some extra time this spring.

Coming off surgery to fix a torn pectoral muscle, the former Heritage High School star decided to make a lifestyle change.

“Right after my surgery after the season last year, I just wanted to give myself all the opportunities to be as healthy as possible in every way,” Thomas said.

The rugged, hard-hitting sophomore linebacker decided to clean up his eating habits.

Drake Thomas (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)

“I wouldn’t say my diet was necessarily bad before, but just like really disciplined and focused a lot on the details of it,” Thomas said. “I just wanted to be as healthy as I could be to be able to make plays for our team.”

It seems to be working.

Thomas leads the team in tackles, averaging eight stops per game and tops the Wolfpack defense with two interceptions.

But even more impressive than Thomas’s stats is his knowledge of the game.

“He knows everything,” said Wolfpack safety Jakeen Harris. “He knows the defense. He knows what the offense is doing. He knows where the play is going and that’s what’s making him play faster.”

Well, that and his new diet, of course.

Truth be told, though, Thomas has long feasted on offenses — even his own team’s.

“Yeah, I’ll admit it, he’s gotten me a few times,” quarterback Devin Leary said about their battles in practice. “Drake does a great job of recognizing different formations and thinking about what’s eventually going to come his way, and he does a great job of trying to bait the quarterback.”

Sounds like a recipe for success.

After five games, Thomas leads the Wolfpack defense with 37 tackles and two interceptions.

Which begs the question. Just how hard was it for Thomas to change his eating habits?

“It wasn’t that hard, honestly,” Thomas said. “Once I have my mind set on something, I’m pretty consistent and go get it.”

Like tracking down a running back in the open field.

The Wolfpack (4-1) play Boston College (4-1) in Chestnut Hill on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.