Jan. 27, 2014
RALEIGH, N.C. - It's going to be a #PACKedSuperBowl, as four former NC State players will be competing in Super Bowl XLVIII in New Jersey on Sunday evening. Only one other school (Tennessee) has more former players on active rosters than the Wolfpack.
All week, we'll be posting updates via twitter on @PackFootball, as well as any links to articles on the Wolfpack alums playing in THE big game. If you would like to send a video or picture to wish Steven Hauschka, Nate Irving, J.R. Sweezy and Russell Wilson good luck, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org or send us a tweet using the hashtag #PACKedSuperBowl. We will be displaying all submissions on GoPack.com throughout the week.
#3 RUSSELL WILSON, Quarterback, Seattle Seahawks
From the first day he walked onto NC State's campus, Russell Wilson planned to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. He started the first collegiate game he ever played and never looked back.
In 2008, he became the first freshman ever to be named the first-team All-ACC quarterback, was the league's rookie of the year and was a freshman All-American according to collegefootballnews.com.
Over his freshman and sophomore campaigns, he threw 379 straight passes without throwing an interception, the longest streak in NCAA history. He ranked fourth nationally with 31 touchdown passes in 2009, the second-highest tally in school history and a mark that led the ACC.
Wilson graduated in May of 2010 and that next season, he led the ACC in passing yards and total offense per game. He finished his career with 8,545 career passing yards - the 12th-best mark in ACC history and the third-best mark in the NC State annals. He was responsible for 93 career touchdowns - 76 through the air and 17 on the ground - the second-best mark in school history.
Wilson also played baseball for the Wolfpack and in the minor leagues. He spent his last year of football eligibility at Wisconsin, where he set an FBS record for passing efficiency (191.8) and was the Big Ten Quarterback of the Year.
He was drafted in the third round by Seattle in 2012 and was named the Seahawks starter during his first training camp. He has won 27 games as the Hawks starting signal caller, tying the NFL record held by Ben Roethlisberger for most wins by a QB in his first two seasons.
#64 J.R. SWEEZY, Offensive Guard, Seattle Seahawks
J.R. Sweezy grew up a rabid State fan, as his grandfather, Roger Sweezy, played linebacker and fullback for the Wolfpack. When he was a kid, his "Papa" gave him a sweatshirt and a bag to carry his cleats in that harkened back to his playing days.
Sweezy wasn't a highly recruited player coming out of Mooresville High School, but proved quickly that he was capable of playing at the BCS level.
He played in 35 games for the Wolfpack, serving as a full-time starter at defensive tackle during his junior and senior campaigns. He led the team in sacks during his junior season, when he was an honorable mention All-ACC performer.
One of his proudest moments was when the Wolfpack defeated North Carolina, 13-0, during his senior year, making him undefeated for his career against the team he grew up pulling against.
Sweezy was drafted in the seventh round of the 2012 draft by the Seahawks and was quickly moved over to the offensive line. He's definitely found his home there, as he's started 17 games at left guard for the Super Bowl bound squad.
#4 STEVEN HAUSCHKA, Placekicker, Seattle Seahawks
Steven Hauschka only spent one year as a member of the Wolfpack, but his name is forever etched in the NC State records books.
Hauschka, a soccer star who never played football prior to his freshman year of college, graduated from Middlebury College in 2007 with a 3.59 GPA in neuroscience. He took advantage of the NCAA rule that allowed him to transfer because he said "I didn't want to regret having a chance to play on the Division I level and never pursuing it. I felt that I owed it to myself."
He connected on the first 10 fields goals attempts of his Wolfpack career, the fourth-longest streak in school history. He ended up connecting on 16 of his 18 tries that season - a mark which is tied as the sixth-best in school history and ranks third on the career list.
His first miss of the season came in the ninth game. In that road contest against Miami in the Orange Bowl, he hit a career-best four field goals, including the one in overtime that sent NC State back to Raleigh with a victory.
His plan following his senior campaign was to enroll in dental school and he was accepted to the prestigious Tufts University School of Dental Medicine. Instead, he took a little detour, playing with the Baltimore Ravens (2008-09), Atlanta Falcons (2009), Denver Broncos (2010) and now with the Seahawks (2011-present).
Haushka had a career-year in Seattle, as he goes into the Super Bowl 33-of-35 on field goal attempts this year, including a perfect 6-of-6 in the playoffs.
#56 NATE IRVING, Linebacker, Denver Broncos
Nate Irving's path to Super Bowl XLVIII almost ended on the side of Interstate 40 in the early morning of June 28, 2009. Around 4:20 a.m., Irving fell asleep at the wheel while driving back to NC State's campus. His car swerved off the road, flipped several times, hit two trees and came to rest in a ditch, where it eventually caught fire. His leg was fractured multiple times, his lung was collapsed, his rib broken and his shoulder separated. As he lay in intensive care at a Raleigh hospital, his friends and teammates prayed that he would live through the trauma. Playing football again was not on anybody's mind.
That was what made September 4, 2010 even sweeter. After spending a year on the sidelines and countless hours in rehab, Irving came back to play for his senior year.
He ended up earning first-team All-ACC honors that season, leading the Wolfpack with 97 tackles. He also earned first-team All-America honors from Scout.com, was a second-team Walter Camp honoree and was a third-team choice of the Associated Press. A semifinalist for the 2010 Butkus Award, he was named the 2010 recipient of the Brian Piccolo Award, which is given to the most "courageous" player in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Irving finished his career with 39.5 tackles for loss, the seventh-best mark in school history. Against Wake Forest in 2010, he set an NCAA record with eight tackles for loss in a single game.
Irving was drafted by the Broncos in the third round of the 2011 draft and has helped the Broncos reach the playoffs in all three of his seasons in Denver.