NC State football opens fall practices with ‘enjoyable’ day as Pack preps for 2023 season

Many of N.C. State’s football players came bounding on to the practice field Wednesday morning, energetic, bouncing around, making noise, eager to get things started.
It helped their moods that the first day of fall camp began with the temperature about 80 and the humidity agreeable. The vibe was a good one throughout the first workout.
“It’s always good as a coach to get back on the field and be around the players,” Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren said. “It was really fun to see. We have 40 new players this year when you add up all the scholarship guys and the walk-ons, and then some guys returning from injury. … It was enjoyable. I had a great time watching practice and being part of it.”
Among the new players is No. 80, wide receiver Bradley Rozner. Hard to miss at 6-foot-5 and 204 pounds, the transfer from Rice was putting in his first on-field practice with the Pack.
“New program, new system, so of course there were some ups and downs,” Rozner said. “But I thought overall, a productive day. For me, it was ‘alignment and assignment’ and go out and play as fast as I could.”
Rozner, from Needville, Texas, has been around college football since 2016, his career interrupted and stalled by injuries. He’s 25. He has an undergraduate degree in sport management and a master’s in accounting, both at Rice.
Rozner, for now, is rooming with quarterback Brennan Armstrong, another newcomer to the Wolfpack program. Armstrong describes his new roomie as ‘super chill” and a good guy after the first week.
The difference: Armstrong, after transferring to NC. State from Virginia, went through spring practice this year with the Pack. Rozner is jumping in late and still getting a feel for the intricacies of an offense installed by first-year offensive coordinator Robert Anae.
“With some offenses that would be hard,” Doeren said. “I think the way Robert teaches it, it won’t be as hard. This guy is very smart, too. I don’t think learning is going to be an issue for him. We’re going to be able to plug him in.
“It’s nice to add another tall guy to the receivers room. We felt like after losing (transfer) Devin Carter that was an area where we could help ourselves. ... He showed last year he could run by people and jump up and make some plays.”
Rozner had 44 catches and 10 touchdown grabs last season at Rice. Saying he decided to enter the NCAA transfer portal in early July, he said he was able to “narrow” his list of interested schools to 20 trying to find the best fit for his final year of eligibility.
“I knew of N.C. State, but I didn’t have a lot of background knowledge of them and had to do some due diligence,” Rozner said.
Rozner liked the coaching staff. He liked the Anae offense and its use of receivers.
“I can stretch the field vertically and Coach Anae likes doing that,” he said. “It felt like the right choice.”
It’s a crowded receivers room Rozner has joined. Keyon Lesane, a senior, made one of the highlight plays of the first practice, getting behind All-ACC corner Aydan White to catch a deep ball in the end zone. There is Porter Rooks, Terrell Timmons Jr., Julian Gray … the list is a long one.
Rozner first played at Cisco (Texas) College and led all junior-college players with 13 TD grabs in 2018. That came after missing two seasons with injuries, when he served as a handyman around the program, washing game jerseys, videoing games and practices, passing out equipment.
At Rice, he had 55 catches in 2019, his first season, but played just one game in 2020 and 2021 because of injuries. Unable to play, he spent time as a communications assistant, helping set up software for Rice athletes to build their social-media presence and brands.
Rozner, healthy in 2022, played 13 games for the Owls. In addition to his 10 TD receptions, he averaged 19.91 yards on his 44 catches, fourth-best in FBS for receivers with 40 or more receptions.
“It’s been a journey, man,” Rozner said Wednesday. “I couldn’t have predicted any of it. It’s taught me a lot about perseverance and believing in yourself.”

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