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Thursday, September 3, 2009
NC State's Wilson reason for optimism

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com


Posted by ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich


RALEIGH, N.C. -- The five-year-old facilities here look pristine. The field looks in excellent condition. Red and white tailgating tents have popped up everywhere and in some cases seem to almost cover the entire parking lot. Shirtless students with their painted chests are soaking in the sun as they wait for the rest of the stadium to fill up. ACC commissioner John Swofford is here.

Everything in and around Carter-Finley Stadium resonates with the kind of buzz and anticipation only a program bursting with potential could elicit. And that potential can be attributed in large part to the player wearing the No. 16 jersey that seems to be the outfit of choice here today -- NC State quarterback Russell Wilson.

He’s a difference-maker, and when it comes to quarterback, NC State will have the edge tonight over Stephen Garcia, and in turn the Pack should have the edge over South Carolina. This is a different, deeper, more confident NC State team than the one that took the field in this game last year, and much of that has to do with the maturation of Wilson, who was knocked out in the second half of the game last year with a concussion.

Wilson has the potential to lead this team to the top of the Atlantic Division. It’s almost time to see if the rest of the Pack is ready to follow.