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Pack's Irving finds the fun in pro day

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Nate Irving did all the drills, jumps and sprints the NFL scouts wanted him to on Wednesday at N.C. State's pro day.

The star linebacker did so with a smile on his face. And why not?

After a one-car accident in June 2009 almost cost Irving his life, his perspective of football has changed. That's how he approached an eventful 2010 season, which concluded nine wins and a top 25 ranking for the Wolfpack, and it's how he's prepped for the draft.

"I think about [the accident] every day," Irving said. "It's just a blessing from where I've come from. I pretty sure there's a lot more things ahead of me."

From the Senior Bowl to the league combine to Wednesday's workout with 22 other pro hopefuls, it has been a hectic three months for Irving.

He prepared for the combine, which was at the end of February in Indianapolis, at the Michael Johnson Performance Center in McKinney, Texas.

He added about 10 pounds to his 6-1 frame. He weighed in at 242 pounds on Wednesday, which made his 40 time (4.65 seconds) and vertical jump (33 inches) all the more impressive.

An All-ACC linebacker and the Wolfpack's leading tackler last season, Irving is projected to be a mid-round pick, anywhere from the third to sixth round.

N.C. State coach Tom O'Brien spoke to several of the dozens of scouts in attendance on Wednesday and he stressed Irving's maturity, as a leader, since missing the 2009 season recovering from the injuries sustained in the accident.

"He has really grown up in a year," O'Brien said. "When you sit in his hospital room in the summer of 2009 and you're thinking he won't walk again, it's especially gratifying. He has a bright future ahead of him."

See 82 photos from N.C. State's pro day HERE.

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About the blogger

Joe Giglio covers the ACC for the News & Observer, where he has worked since 1997.