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April 13, 2012
After growing up in the shadows of NC State and starring at Raleigh (N.C.) Broughton High, hometown product Juston Burris is anxiously awaiting the Wolfpack's spring game on April 21.
The cornerback redshirted last season and was named the Scout Team Defensive Player of the Year while going against the Pack's first-team offense every day in the fall. Although it was tough for the prep star to be on the sidelines for the entire campaign, he knows that it is something that will work in his advantage down the line.
"It was a great honor to be named scout team Player of the Year," he said. "I was working hard. It was kind of hard at first because I wasn't playing, and I wasn't used to that. But I bought in and I understood that I was still helping the team, that made it a lot better, and it made me want to work harder so that I could get to where I am now, where I have a chance to play this year."
The 6-foot-1, 193-pounder was two-way star on the prep level, catching passes as a wide receiver and playing safety, in addition to being a threat returning punts and kicks. He didn't have much experience as a cornerback, but he's starting to get comfortable going one-on-one with receivers.
"I feel a lot more comfortable than I did when I first got here because I came from playing safety in high school to playing corner," he noted. "It's a lot different and guys are faster, so I've got to learn a lot quicker. I feel like I'm picking it up in my second year.
"The toughest transition was just the speed. At safety, I was playing off and I was playing a lot of zone because I was more of a free safety in high school Now, I'm playing man, cover one, cover zero. It's a lot different."
Burris, who opens the spring No. 2 on the organizational chart at boundary corner, said that his welcome to college football moment came at his very first practice last summer.
"The first day I was here, I got in with the ones because two guys went down - I think one guy was [dealing with the] heat and another guy got hurt," Burris remembered. "I went in and I was going against T.J. Graham. That was a big moment, seeing T.J. across from me because I've watched him for years.
"Playing against the him and the other ones helped a lot. I was going against T.J. and Jay Smith, guys like that who can play in the NFL. It gave me confidence in myself that I can get to that level, that I can play at this level against those tap caliber guys."
Burris loves playing in his hometown and tries to keep a close eye on his Alma Mater, which is just a few miles from campus. This summer, the Pack will be adding his former teammate, linebacker Drew Davis.
"It's great to play here because I've got a lot of people around here, a lot of fans," Burris said. "I can go back to my school and see the younger guys who are coming up and going to college next year. I got to go back and watch them play last year, so it was good. I wouldn't have gone anywhere else, I like being at home.
"I am excited about Drew coming. The day he got the offer, Coach Archer called me and told me that he had an offer. I called Drew right then and that was big, I talked to him for a while. He talked to me to see how NC State was, he wanted to know what it was like, and I told him it was great. That was big to see another guy from Broughton come here."
Burris is also anxious for the chance to perform in front of the hometown crowd for the first time in the Red and White at the Spring Game on April 21.
"I can't wait," he said. "It's my first game, my first real experience to play in college. I'm looking forward to it, I've got a lot of people coming - all of my friends from high school, I've got a lot of family coming down from Virginia, it's going to be a big day."
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