RALEIGH — The Dave Doeren era at N.C. State will begin without embattled running back Shadrach Thornton.
Doeren announced Wednesday that he suspended the sophomore running back from the Wolfpack’s season opener Aug. 31 against Louisiana Tech.
Thornton was charged June 6 with a misdemeanor assault on a female. According to the arrest report, he pushed a girl who identified herself as his girlfriend after they argued at D.H. Hill Library.
Thornton, who led the Pack with 694 rushing yards last season, has a court date Aug. 22.
Thornton’s arrest was publicly disclosed Sunday night. Doeren issued a statement that said Thornton had been suspended but had earned his way back on the team.
Thornton practiced Friday and Saturday and appeared at the team’s Meet the Pack day Sunday. He remains with the team and practiced Wednesday.
Doeren said Wednesday that the game suspension was decided “awhile ago.”
“I think he’s learned a lot and he’ll grow a lot from it,” Doeren said. “That’s part of our job as coaches is to discipline guys and to help them through mistakes.
“The bottom line is he knows he made a mistake putting himself in that situation. We removed him from all team activities except for academics and he had to live his life the way that he should live it, in my opinion and our team’s opinion before he could come back and exercise with the guys.”
Thornton is an important piece of the fast-paced offense that Doeren is implementing this offseason.
The sophomore is one of two running backs, along with redshirt junior Tony Creecy, who carried the ball for State last season.
“We’re not very deep and we’re not very experienced,” Creecy said of the running backs. “But (Thornton’s) situation doesn’t put any more pressure on me than I put on myself. ... Without Shadrach, we’ve got to make it happen.”
Creecy also noted that he’s been helping Thornton throughout the situation on the field.
“I keep telling (Thornton) to just separate the outside stuff from what you’re doing on the field,” Creecy said. “Focus on this for three hours and you’ll be fine. He’s a great guy, he just got caught up in a bad situation.”
Staff writer Joe Giglio contributed to this report.