It was going to be an uphill climb for Payton Wilson anyway to get on the football field for N.C. State this season.
That was before the freshman linebacker re-injured his right knee. The Wolfpack’s top recruit, ranked No. 79 overall in the class by 247Sports, will now likely have to redshirt the 2018 season after a setback with his rehabilitation.
Under a new NCAA rule, Wilson could play in as many as four games without losing a year of eligibility but there is no timetable for his return. A healthy Wilson would have contended for playing time as a backup outside linebacker to senior Germaine Pratt.
It has been an eventful 10 months for Wilson. In October, he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee on the opening kickoff of Orange High School's ninth game of the 2017 season. The 6-4, 225-pound linebacker had 103 tackles and 10 sacks before the injury.
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He made waves in December when he changed his commitment from North Carolina to N.C. State before the early signing period. His switch began the recent in-state recruiting surge for the Wolfpack and coach Dave Doeren.
Wilson enrolled in January to help get his knee ready for the upcoming season. The recent setback alters his timetable to get back on the field.
N.C. State opens practice on Aug. 3.