Payton Wilson, a linebacker for NC State, was named the top defensive player in the nation and presented with the Chuck Bednarik award during a live broadcast on ESPN. He is the first player from NC State to ever receive this prestigious award.
“According to Wilson in an interview with ESPN, Coach Gibson has been doing an incredible job in getting us ready for our games. He has helped us improve in areas such as recognizing patterns and making necessary changes, ultimately leading to a deeper understanding of the game and an increase in our speed on the field. This has been a crucial aspect of my off-season training.”
Wilson, a graduate student from Hillsboro, NC, has an impressive track record of receiving honors and awards. He recently earned the ACC Defensive Player of the Year award for his exceptional performance in tackles and tackles for loss, leading the ACC in both categories. With 138 tackles this season, he surpassed the nearest player by 17. Not only was Wilson the top tackler for NC State, but he also served as a captain. He attributed their five-game winning streak at the end of the regular season to the team’s strong unity and dedication.
“I believe that towards the end of the season, everyone on the team fully committed,” stated Wilson. “This was especially evident on the defensive side where we were all in sync and playing with speed and maximum physicality. Coach [Dave] Doeren encouraged us to unleash our potential after the Duke game and as a team, that’s exactly what we did.”
During the NC State basketball game on Wednesday night, Wilson received the Butkus Award from Matt Butkus. This award is given to the best linebacker in the country, and Wilson is the first NC State linebacker to earn this honor.
The NC State team is scheduled to participate in the Pop-Tarts Bowl against Kansas State in Orlando, Florida on December 28th.