Cornerback Mike Stevens will miss the opener against South Carolina on Saturday and is expected to be out longer with a knee injury.
The senior from Davidson suffered the injury earlier this month during training camp and his early absence will stretch an already thin position for the Wolfpack.
Johnathan Alston, a fifth-year senior who spent the first three years of his career at receiver, is expected to start in Stevens’ place against the Gamecocks on Saturday at Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium. Sophomore Nick McCloud is expected to be the other starting corner.
N.C. State, in preparation for the opener, will release a depth chart on Monday before coach Dave Doeren’s weekly press conference.
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Eight of 11 starters return for N.C. State’s defense, including Stevens. Doeren knew he was going to have to fill three slots in the secondary (nickel, safety and cornerback) before Stevens’ injury. Stevens’ injury leaves senior safety Shawn Boone as the only experienced returnee in the secondary.
Stevens (5-11, 190 pounds), who started every regular-season game last year and 10 games in 2015, had 32 tackles and an interception return for a touchdown (against Clemson) in 2016.
Doeren has previously said that Alston (6-0, 210 pounds), who is bigger than Stevens, has stood out in camp. Stevens’ absence, which could stretch until the Florida State game on Sept. 23, pushes redshirt freshman Bryce Banks and fifth-year senior Nicholas Lacy up the depth chart.
N.C. State’s defense ranked No. 82 in the country against the pass (244.2 yards per game) last season (compared No. 8 against the run). Quarterback Jake Bentley threw for 390 yards in South Carolina’s 46-39 overtime bowl loss to South Florida last season.
Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio