Focus is back on football for Pack's Sweezy

The N.C. State tackle says he has put his 'bad situations, bad times' behind.

Staff WriterAugust 17, 2010 

First of all, N.C. State defensive tackle J.R. Sweezy is sorry.

After the offseason he has had, there's no other place to start.

Sweezy had charges from two separate incidents dismissed against him during the offseason.

A March 18 assault charge - later dismissed - after an altercation with a shuttle bus driver caused him to be suspended during spring practice.

In April, Sweezy was charged with simple possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and maintaining a dwelling for the use of a controlled substance.

Those charges against Sweezy and two teammates were dismissed when a judge ruled police had improperly searched their off-campus apartment. (A fourth player, tight end George Bryan, has a Sept. 3 court date on a single charge of maintaining a dwelling for using a controlled substance.)

"I don't want to go into detail about everything," Sweezy said. "Obviously, it was bad situations, bad times. But it's behind me now, thank God. I just apologize to everybody and the Wolfpack Nation for associating myself with that kind of stuff."

Now Sweezy has returned to a vital position on N.C. State's defense. Starting defensive tackles Alan-Michael Cash and Leroy Burgess are gone from last season's team.

Sweezy was a top backup last season, posting 17 tackles, with five tackles for losses, including three sacks, and 13 quarterback pressures. Defensive line coach Keith Willis said Sweezy "has pro potential, absolutely," but he's rusty after missing spring practice.

"J.R. is a powerful dude," Willis said. "He's powerful mind-wise. He's powerful as a player. He knows what he did wrong. We all know. That doesn't matter. It's where do you go from here, J.R.?"

Sweezy came to N.C. State partly as a result of his mother's efforts to get his name out to college recruiters. He made 195 tackles in 12 games as a senior at Mooresville High, but he didn't attract much interest from college coaches until his mother sent out video of his games.

He admitted that he is rusty now, but he said he's stronger and faster than he was a year ago because he worked hard during the offseason. He said he has been eating five or six meals a day to put on weight after being recruited as a linebacker, and he is listed at 6 feet 5 and 280 pounds in the team's media guide.

He is confident in his ability to stop the run but said he needs to continue working on his pass-rushing skills. He was pleased to hear Willis thinks he has the ability to play in the NFL someday but said he isn't close to reaching his potential.

"That's been my dream ever since I was a young kid," the longtime Carolina Panthers fan said. "I want to play in the NFL, and I know you have to be really good to do that."

After the summer Sweezy has had, the first step toward doing that was apologizing and trying to put the past behind him.

ktysiac@charlotteobserver.com or 919-829-8942

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