Oct. 15, 2012
Raleigh, N.C. -
When Earl Wolff, a senior safety for the Wolfpack, was working at the office of the College Inn, an off-campus apartment complex for many NC State athletes, he never anticipated what would be waiting for him inside a package.
“When I got the box I kind of cracked up, and I said, a teddy bear? I’m a grown man,” Wolff laughed.
His mother had sent him a teddy bear from thousands of miles away in Kuwait, where she is currently deployed.
Wolff, who has always been extremely close with his mom, remembered how the teddy bear really hit home because it had been her first deployment and a great challenge for him.
“Of course, when she left me it hurt, but it made me grow up faster,” he said. “God does everything for a reason, so it just made me stronger.”
Though Wolff swears he never got teary-eyed upon opening that teddy bear, he did say it made him feel incredibly loved.
“She was basically saying ‘I might be far away, but this teddy bear symbolizes me being with you all the time’,” he explained. “I told her ‘I’m gonna take that bear to every football game with me,’” he smiled.
Even with his mom stationed overseas, Wolff communicates with her on a daily basis. It should come as no surprise, then, that in addition to staying close with his mom, he also maintains strong relationships with both his older sister and younger brother, a current football player at Winston Salem State University. Wolff says he and his family were privileged to stay in one place for so long, while most military families experience the constant moving around.
Born in Fort Bragg, N.C., he has lived in the Fayetteville area nearly his entire life. But, if his athletic talent is what brought him here to NC State, it’s his positive attitude and fun-loving spirit that help carry him forward.
Though he may maintain a take-no-prisoners mentality on the football field, off the field Wolff is a person who is willing to talk to anyone, and willing to reach out to others.
When asked about his teammates perception of him, Wolff explained, “the first thing they would say is I’m a character. I like to have fun…you know, I love the game.”
And, though he may be all fun and games at times, he emphasized the importance of being someone his teammates can rely on.
“They know they can call me and I’m there,” he said.
Coach O’Brien has also called Wolff the “heart of the defense” and Wolff has notched a total of 265 career tackles thus far, more than any returning player. Last season, Wolff was an All-ACC nominee and made 113 tackles, second on the team.
Wolff doesn’t limit his efforts to football alone, either. In the same way that he conveys a fearlessness on the field and sincerely dedicates himself to the sport, Wolff isn’t afraid to dive into other endeavors as well.
He graduated from NC State in a short three and a half years, and has two internships under his belt. Last summer he worked in the recruiting office of the Murphy Center, and last fall he was an assistant football coach for Southeast Raleigh High School. He credits his academic success to both his mother and grandmother, who instilled in him the discipline to put schoolwork ahead of other activities. Even while explaining how he had never failed nor dropped a course since attending NC State, Wolff still managed to possess a certain humility.
Wolff can joke now about how he first wanted to study accounting when coming to NC State, though he quickly learned it wasn’t for him.
“I found out I couldn’t really stay awake in class,” Wolff said. “I just tend to doze off, and me being in my first math class it was so hard for me to focus.”
If he wasn’t pursuing football, Wolff said he would probably choose a career in sports management because he has loved playing sports since a young age.
Wolff said one of his most memorable football moments since playing for NC State was the home game against Florida State during the 2010 season, when the Wolfpack came back to defeat the Seminoles after being down 21-7 at halftime.
“It went down to the last couple seconds. They moved the ball down the field so fast that last drive… I was kind of nervous. When Christian Ponder dropped the ball (and fumbled), I dropped to my knees in happiness,” Wolff recalled.
As for his final season playing for NC State, Earl is cool and confident about the direction in which the Wolfpack is headed.
“I feel we’re going to do some incredible things this year, not just in the secondary, but the entire team,” he said calmly.
That’s exactly what the Wolfpack did when it defeated South Alabama 31-7 its first home game of the season. The Wolfpack’s second home game Wolff had the chance to play not only for his mom overseas, but for all the men and women in the armed forces, during NC State’s Military Appreciation Day in the win over The Citadel.
Seeing as that day was close to his heart, Wolff thought it especially important to lead the Wolfpack to a victory in honor of his mom and all of those who have served or are serving in the military.
Wolff also had something else to look forward to that day. When the players cleared the field for a timeout, a video of Wolff’s mom aired on the jumbrotron. As she stood with a group of other servicemen and women all the way from Kuwait, she wished her son good luck on the giant screen in Carter Finley. Needless to say, Wolff and the Wolfpack defeated the Citadel 52-14.
By Alex Petercuskie