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Meyers decides to go pro after Wolfpack’s Gator Bowl loss

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Jakobi Meyers is the second North Carolina State underclassman to declare for the NFL draft. The redshirt junior wide receiver, who finished with 92 receptions in 2018 — the 10th most in ACC history — will join fellow wideout Kelvin Harmon in leaving school a year early.

Meyers, unlike Harmon and graduate student linebacker Germaine Pratt, elected to play for the Wolfpack against Texas A&M in the Gator Bowl on Monday night. Meyers, who graduated in December with a degree in sports management and a minor in business administration, had three catches for 19 yards in the Wolfpack’s 52-13 loss to the No. 19 Aggies. 

“I came to N.C. State a kid chasing two dreams,” Meyers said in a statement released by the school Tuesday. “I’m leaving a man with one dream fulfilled and hopefully another on the way. I would like to thank Coach (Dave) Doeren, Coach (George) McDonald, my teammates and all the staff here at N.C. State for helping me get to this position.”  

After redshirting his first season in the program, Meyers was moved from quarterback to wide receiver prior to the 2016 campaign. 

“I hated it,” Meyers recalled. “I hated everybody. I wanted to leave, but I stuck with it. I talked to a lot of good people. I thought about it, and it worked out. Coaches get to see a lot of players work. They’ve been through it. All the young guys, we think we know everything, but when you come here, you honestly don’t. I guess since he’s been through this situation and I hadn’t, I took his word for it.

“We joke about it a lot. Everybody always says, ‘If you’d stuck with quarterback, where would you be?’ I have no idea, but I’m grateful for where I am now. We talk about it a lot.”

GATOR BOWL HISTORY

With the loss to Texas A&M, the Wolfpack dropped to 1-3 overall in four Gator Bowl appearances

January 1, 1947: Oklahoma 34, N.C. State 13

December 31, 1992: Florida 27, N.C. State 10

January 1, 2003: N.C. State 28, Notre Dame 6

December 31, 2018: Texas A&M 52, N.C. State 13

STATS OF THE GAME

After taking a 13-7 lead in the second quarter of the Gator Bowl at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Florida, very little went right for the Wolfpack on New Year’s Eve.

Chris Dunn sandwiched field goals of 43 and 49 yards around a Ryan Finley 9-yard touchdown pass to C.J. Riley before the Aggies (9-4) scored 45 unanswered points.

Some of the reasons for the Wolfpack’s performance in finishing with a 9-4 record can be found in some key statistics. N.C. State finished with just 134 rushing yards, including 79 by senior Reggie Gallaspy in his final game in a Wolfpack uniform. Conversely, junior Trayveon Williams ran for 236 yards, a Texas A&M bowl record, as the Aggies piled up 401 yards on the ground.

The Wolfpack was 0 for 13 on third-down conversions while the Aggies were successful of five of their 10 third downs. Furthermore, Texas A&M collected 11 tackles for loss of yardage to just three by N.C. State.

FINLEY’S FINAL MESSAGE

Ryan Finley is one of the greatest players to ever wear an N.C. State uniform, but, unfortunately, his career didn’t end in fairy-tale fashion. 

Finley completed 19-of-32 passes for 139 yards, one touchdown and two costly interceptions Monday against the Aggies. The Boise State transfer finishes the N.C. State portion of his college career with 10,501 yards passing. He came 72 yards short of eclipsing the 4,000-yard passing mark in his final season with the Wolfpack. 

After the game, he stuck around to address the media in his swan song with N.C. State.  

“Tonight didn’t go the way we wanted it,” Finley said. “It is hard not to reflect on some of the awesome things we did. (I’m) just not going to let one game ruin the relationships that we have built. Not the ending that we wanted, but some of the awesome things that came from this season — just a lot to be proud of.

“I think we left it in a really good spot. I think it has been all up for the last three years and so why wouldn’t it continue to do that? I am excited about the trajectory of the program. I think this is just a bump in the road, but it will be motivation for those guys coming back.”

He ended with a message to the Wolfpack faithful. 

“I would tell (Wolfpack fans) I am thankful for them,” Finley said “I am excited to one day call Raleigh my home. I am going to be a very proud alumnus. I am excited for my brother (Ben Finley) to get here. I am just grateful for them. Some of the best moments of my entire life have happened at Carter-Finley.”

Rob McLamb of Inside Pack Sports has covered N.C. State athletics and recruiting since 2012. You can follow him on Twitter @RobMcLamb.

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