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Friday, October 3, 2008
NC State's secondary gets some help

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

NC State cornerbacks Jeremy Gray and DeAndre Morgan each played 81 snaps last weekend against South Florida, more than anyone else on the roster. Safety JC Neal played 77 snaps, the second most of anyone on defense. And safety Justin Byers was in on 74 plays, the third-most on defense.

It's safe to say NC State's starting secondary could use a break.

Enter Clem Johnson.

The junior college transfer broke his jaw in the third scrimmage of the season, just as he was moving into a starting role, and wasn't expected to return. He lost between 15-20 pounds, but within 48 hours after his braces were removed, Johnson gained eight of it back. He has since fully recovered and played sparingly for the first time last weekend against South Florida.

Now the staff is hoping to gradually work him back into the rotation over the next few weeks.

"It's a whole new process for him," NC state coach Tom O'Brien said. "We're starting all over with him. He played a little bit last Saturday and hopefully we'll be able to play him a little bit more this Saturday. So it's part of a process now to get him back. ... If we had an open week we could speed the process up, but it's rather difficult going game to game."

Odds are it would've gotten even more difficult, though, without him.