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2023 NC State football preview: The secondary

NC State v Clemson Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images

Prior preview installments:


I’ll close out my football preview series with the secondary, which has plenty to replace but also returns a lot of experience, including a potential All-American at corner.

Key Losses

Player 2022 GP-GS 2022 Plays Tackles TFL INT PBU
Player 2022 GP-GS 2022 Plays Tackles TFL INT PBU
Tanner Ingle 13-13 759 83 8.0 2 2
Cyrus Fagan 13-13 708 51 2.5 3 6
Tyler Baker-Williams 6-6 292 17 2.5 2 1
Derrek Pitts 13-9 522 51 0.0 0 6
Josh Pierre-Louis 2-0 41 4 0.0 0 0
TOT ... 2322 206 13.0 7 15

Tanner Ingle did so much for so long that it’s difficult to picture NC State’s defense without him—his closing speed and ability to finish plays at or behind the line of scrimmage were absolutely critical to State’s success on this side of the ball.

The Wolfpack was fortunate to have stability on the back end last year, losing few games to injury among its core group at safety and corner. Replacing Ingle and Cyrus Fagan is no small thing, but with another year of good health here, State should be fine.

Returning Production

Player 2022 GP-GS 2022 Plays Tackles TFL INT PBU
Player 2022 GP-GS 2022 Plays Tackles TFL INT PBU
Aydan White 13-12 751 46 4.0 4 9
Shyheim Battle 11-7 522 34 2.0 2 5
Devan Boykin 11-3 348 20 0.5 1 0
Jakeen Harris 11-2 315 20 0 2 2
Sean Brown 13-0 71 18 0 0 0
Rakeim Ashford 13-0 59 10 0 1 0
Teshaun Smith 11-0 58 8 0 0 2
TOT ... 2124 156 6.5 10 18

Aydan White and Shy Battle will be the opening-week starters at corner, and both are capable of having big seasons. They are a luxury that will allow Tony Gibson to continue dialing up pressure on passing downs. Behind them, State returns Teshaun Smith and we probably will see true freshman Brandon Cisse on the field, if the buzz around him is accurate. I’m interested to see how Terrente Hinton fits in as well.

Devan Boykin and Jakeen Harris both made starts at nickel in 2022 but are the most logical choices to move into the vacated safety spots. The depth at safety looks solid as well, with Sean Brown and Rakeim Ashford returning, plus the addition of JUCO Bishop Fitzgerald.

The nickel spot figures to belong to Robert Kennedy, who had 52 tackles for Old Dominion last season. Cecil Powell is back healthy after missing two years, and while his experience is at corner, maybe he’s a fit at nickel, given the relative lack of depth.

In general, though, and this could be the preseason optimism talking, it feels like there are a few guys who’ll begin the season as backups who could handle larger roles. That’s a good place to be for State.