The news that NC State will be without cornerback C.J. Wilson for the opener against Tennessee does not worry coach Tom O'Brien much.
That's because Dontae Johnson had already won the starting job. While Wilson is held out of the game with an NCAA eligibility issue, the Wolfpack will rely on Johnson, a player who is set to make his first career start at cornerback. That most likely means he will get picked on early with All-American cornerback David Amerson on the other side of the field.
"We made the move last spring," O'Brien said Tuesday during a media call for the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game against Tennessee on Friday night. "Dontae started the spring game at corner for us. This was something that had nothing to do with C.J. and everything to do with Dontae Johnson for us. He finished up spring practice at corner and continued to have a good camp."
Johnson is a converted safety who made two starts last season as a linebacker when the Wolfpack opened in a 4-2-5 set. The 6-foot-3, 196-pound junior has much better size than Wilson (5-11, 187 pounds) though he lacks in starting experience and game experience at cornerback.
Wilson has started 29 games in his career but after losing his starting job in the spring, O'Brien made it clear the senior would have to win it back. Now the Wolfpack have to wait to get Wilson back onto the field.