Wolfpack football alums talk about football today, how the game has changed, whether they’d let their kids play and “rabid” Wolfpack fans.
Jason Biggs Punter from 1993-1998 and Graduate Assistant Coach from 1998-2001. He went on to coach and serve as an athletic director for East Wake High. He currently runs FS Series Sports with fellow former player, Marc Primanti.
Carl Reeves Defensive End from 1991-1994. He was drafted to the NFL and played for the Chicago Bears. He later played arena football with the Carolina Cobras. Currently an ordained minister, Reeves gives back to the community through a mentoring program and works at Crossroads Ford.
Marc Primanti started as a walk-on kicker in 1992. He won the starting position in the 1995 season, went on to become a first team All-American and won the Lou Groza Award for the nation’s top kicker. He runs FS Series Sports with Biggs.
Jimmy Sziksai Place-kicker from 1992-1994, Sziksai is a very involved Wolfpack booster and coaches his daughter’s AAU basketball team.
Terry Harvey Quarterback from 1991-1995. Harvey led the Wolfpack to victories in both baseball (as a pitcher) and football. He led the team to three bowl games during that span.
How do you, as former Wolfpack players, watch the game now?
Reeves: There is no former. Once you’re a Wolfpack, you’re always a Wolfpack. You’re always part of the brotherhood.
Harvey: Whether it’s 20 years ago or 20 minutes ago, you’ve bled, you’ve been there, done that, earned your stripes.
How do you sum up NC State fans?
Biggs: They support, no matter how we’re doing.
Sziksai: We just came off a 7-5 season and we sold out in record time. There’s no tickets left, and we’re not a great team yet.
Primanti: If we start winning, it’s going to be ridiculous.
Sziksai: Could you imagine if we became a consistent top 25 team? They’d have to add to that stadium.
Reeves: That’s an understatement.
Sziksai: NC State fans want to win, and they’re so passionate about NC State sports. That’s why they’re a little unrealistic sometimes.
Reeves: We live and die with the Wolfpack. Wolfpack fans have a tendency to recruit every fan that comes into the Triangle. “Hi, welcome, you’re a Wolfpack fan, right?”
Has the game changed since you played?
Harvey: Definitely, they’ve tried to minimize some of the contact blows.
Reeves: The rules…they modify them to benefit the offense to get more people in the stands. Last time I checked, last Super Bowl included, offense brings people in the stands, defense wins championships.
Harvey: There’s protection in the pocket for the quarterback. There’s still a chance for bodily harm but as far as the game ending or season ending injury, those chances are more minimal because defense has to stay away from knees and the head.
Would you consider these positive changes overall?
Sziksai: For the players it’s better. You never want to see anyone get hurt, but it’s taken away from the physicality of the game.
Primanti: What was a good tackle a few years ago is now a 15 yard [penalty] and could cost you the game.
Harvey: It’s gotten to the point where it’s become very subjective.
Biggs: It makes the game a judgment call. I mean the whole point of the game for a long time was to take out the guys from the other team.
Biggs: Yes, legally, but you’d want to knock that guy out of the game.
Knowing what you know now about the risks, would you let your sons play?
Reeves: Risk? I have gone all over the world playing football; forget the risk. You want to lessen the risk, talk to the little league. The coaches in little league; teach the players how to enter into contact. Most of the concussions happen in high school anyway.
Biggs: Absolutely, I’d let them play whatever they want. You have more chances of getting hurt driving down the road than you do playing football.
What age would you let them start playing?
Reeves: Six, same age I started, so they can learn how to do it right.
Harvey: I have three sons, and they play everything. There’s always a concern when you’re a parent, but kids are going to be kids, and boys are going to be boys. They’re going to find something to get into and if football’s the worst thing they get into, they’re probably going to be OK.
Whatís your most memorable game as a spectator?
Sziksai: I was at Carolina. We won ,and I jumped the fence, and I started digging up the turf. I turn around and there’s a guy with a camera. I give him my name and they ran it in the N&O.
Primanti: The Peach Bowl with Mississippi State.
Biggs: For me it was when we beat FSU the first time. Weinke had six interceptions, and we won 24-7. I have a piece of the goal post from that Florida State game.
How about your favorite game as a player?
Reeves: Sophomore year, we went down to Clemson, Death Valley. Jesse Campbell came up, hit the quarterback, ball fumbled, I picked the ball up, ran it in for a touchdown. I did my little celebration move]. Coach Sheridan watched me do 200 pack ‘ems for celebrating that touchdown. I thought, “This dude is crazy! I scored a touch down and got two sacks!”
Harvey: I’m going to go with Duke—my first career start. They were ranked in the top 15 in the country. They were up 23-7 late in the game, and we came back and beat them 24-23. That was one where we kind of shocked our fans. They tore the field goal post down.
A game you want to erase from memory?
Primanti: I never made one kick in the state of Alabama. That game in Alabama stuck with me. My parents were there. I was thinking, “They just gave me a scholarship; are they going to take it away?”
Biggs: How about when Carolina beat us with no quarterback, I think they pulled him over from wide receiver.
Harvey: There were some bad ones, but there is one that was just ugly. We played Baylor. I think it was the first time we had been shut out at home in 20 some years. We got beat 7 to nothing. It was punt, punt, punt, ugly. I think even my parents left early!
Any other significant Wolfpack Memories?
Reeves: One of the main things that Dick Sheridan did—he made us pledge allegiance to the helmet. I was like, “Man, what is this?”
Reeves: [We went to the] Velvet Cloak; the freshman had to stand up there and hold the helmet. I was thinking, everybody’s looking I better not drop this helmet.
How do you stay in touch?
Reeves: Spring ball and the Kay Yow football game.
Sziksai: Coach Amato started it, and Coach O’Brien really put some time and effort into encouraging every former player to come back during the spring game. Friday, he’d invite us to watch practice, and then we’d go up in Vaughn Tower and have dinner and fellowship together. And, Coach Doeren has continued and made it bigger.
Sziksai: What’s nice is the guys that are out of town will make a weekend of it and bring their families. The last one was 400 people.
How do you feel about playing Notre Dame for Carter Finley’s 50th Anniversary Celebration?
Reeves: I would’ve preferred Wake Forest.
Harvey (laughs): It’s gonna be a really tough schedule, but with that comes tremendous opportunity. You win some of those games that on paper you’re not supposed to, and you can make a statement. It can slingshot you into recruiting for 2017. I’m a glass-half-full guy.