Nov. 7, 2012
Raleigh, N.C. -
Most high-level football recruits have their choice of colleges coming out of high school. Football recruiting is a big business, as often times it determines the success and longevity of the head coach and his staff.
NC State senior wide receiver Tobais Palmer originally signed with the Pack in 2008, but his days in the Red & White would have to wait.
Palmer starred at Northwood High School in Pittsboro, N.C., where he played both running back and safety. He was ranked as the No. 27 athlete in the nation by ESPN, and Palmer was one of those recruits that had his choice of schools.
Palmer fell in love with the idea of being a member of the Wolfpack, but his journey to NC State was delayed for two years. He did not qualify academically, and had to spend two years at Georgia Military Academy.
“Going to Georgia Military was definitely a setback for me at the time,” said Palmer.
Being at Georgia Military was a culture shock for Palmer. Gone were the days where he dictated when he did stuff, and was replaced with more structure and discipline in a military setting. He was also able to see that football was not the most important thing he did with his time.
“The thing that got me was that there was a military life and a football life,” said Palmer. “Football life only lasts for so long, the military life taught you so much more.
“It was a real discipline program, that taught you time management, responsibility. It made me mature, and just respect things in life I might have been taking for granted.”
Palmer made the most of his time at Georgia Military College, as he earned an associate’s degree in general studies, while finishing with a 3.4 GPA.
“It was a huge turnaround for me,” said Palmer. “Once I knew that I had to apply myself more to my school work, I saw what I was capable of.
“I should of being doing it all along, but I just needed a reality check and knowing that I could be more if I applied myself more. Once I saw the results, I’ve just been running with that mentality.”
Even after having to spend two years at Georgia Military and delaying his college football career, there was never any doubt that Palmer would stick to his original commitment to NC State even though he could of went anywhere to play Division I.
“I just wanted to be close to home so I could have my family here to see me play,” said Palmer. “At the same time, I wanted to keep my word and not go back on it. That is why I did the job I had to do at GMC (Georgia Military) and I came back here.”
Palmer did have to make one major adjustment from the first time he was recruited to NC State. When he originally signed in 2008, he was recruited as a running back because that was what he had played his entire life. But when he finally stepped onto NC State’s campus that was about to change.
“When I recommitted and got here the second time around, they switched me to wide receiver,” said Palmer. “My first thoughts, I was not too enthused about the move. I felt at the time I was not comfortable because I had never played that position, so it was a bit of an unknown to me.
“I eventually saw it as a sacrifice to make for the team, part of being a team player. I then wanted to do what would be beneficial for the team, and embrace it. As time went on, I did get more comfortable and improve as a player at wideout.”
Palmer redshirted that 2010 season while learning the position.
“It (redshirting) was a good move because it helped me learn from the older guys that were already here,” said Palmer. “Coming off that redshirt season, I felt more comfortable with the offense, and it just started to come together a bit easier.”
Last season, Palmer was the Pack’s fourth-leading wideout with his 37 grabs. He scored five touchdowns on the season, including one each in the final three games of the year.
“At first learning to run routes was real difficult,” said Palmer. “I was use to seeing things from the backfield, not out on the perimeter. Now that I am more comfortable in knowing what to do technique wise, I can get open and be an option in this offense. Things were really clicking at the end of the season.”
Palmer has started all nine games this seasons, and he had what he calls his breakout game two weeks ago at North Carolina. He caught five passes for a career-best 119 yards, including an 83-yard TD pass in the second half.
He is now set to graduate from NC State in December with a degree in sport management. He also currently posts a GPA of 2.9 in his final semester.
“I’ve learned since high school, you have to work as much in the classroom as you do out on the field,” said Palmer. “When I do get my degree from State, I know it will be one of the best days of my life and most rewarding for all my hard work.”
Away from the football field and the classroom, Palmer has been heavily involved in NC State’s student-athlete development program.
This past Christmas, Palmer participated in the Toys for Tots program. He was one of 10 football players that shopped for toys, each filling a cart with as many toys as possible at a local Wal-Mart, and then donating them to the U.S. Marines.
He has also volunteered to tutor local kids at the PNC Learning Center in Raleigh, has spoke to a local elementary school about being a student-athlete, and also did an internship this past summer at a local YMCA for school credit.
“I have always enjoyed doing those type of things,” said Palmer. “Being a student-athlete here, there are many options afforded to us, and reaching out to others is one part of my responsibilities I take pretty serious.”
The Pack will finish its regular season with two of its final three home games at Carter-Finley Stadium. NC State is 14-3 at home since the 2010 season, and Palmer and the Pack know they have to take advantage of the home crowd.
“The majority of my family makes it to home games, so it is always important for me to have a good game for them,” said Palmer. “My senior season is winding down, I know I don’t have too many more opportunities to put on the State uniform.”
Since he will graduate in December, Palmer can focus on working towards the NFL Draft next April.
“My plans are to pursue my aspirations to play in the NFL,” said Palmer. “Graduating in December will allow me to concentrate on training full-time and see where it goes. I feel like I have to keep improving my route running, and keep getting stronger and faster and use my speed to my advantage.”