NC State has a new all-time receptions leader, correcting a legacy that started rough

·4 min read

N.C. State’s dominating performance Saturday night was so impressive that the history made in the fourth quarter was almost an afterthought.

It also didn’t help that the record-breaking play was a negative one. Not that it mattered to Emeka Emezie. Late in N.C. State’s 33-7 win over Boston College, Emezie caught a pass from Devin Leary for a four-yard loss.

Emezie got up with the ball in his hand and calmly walked to the sideline. His work for the night was done, his place in the Wolfpack record book secured. That catch was just his second of the game, and 34th for the season. But it was No. 203 for his career, making the fifth-year senior the all-time leading receptions leader in school history.

“They didn’t have to do that,” Emezie said about the staff putting him back in for the record-breaking catch. “The game was already over, for them to do that in a special way. It’s not really about the catch, more about everything leading up to this moment.”

Emezie passed Jaylen Samuels in the record book Saturday night. Along the way to his mark, he passed all-time greats like Torry Holt, Jerrico Cotchery and his former teammate, Kelvin Harmon. All those names listed went onto the NFL. Emezie could have done the same, but he decided to come back and take advantage of the extra year of eligibility.

Returning was because he wanted to be part of a special team, but breaking a record was an added bonus. It hadn’t hit him until moments after the win over Boston College.

“To have my name to be with them,” Emezie said. “That’s crazy. To be able to have my name said with them is just a blessing. It’s crazy.”

Emezie admitted he knew he was two catches away before kickoff. He was targeted six times by quarterback Devin Leary and what was thought to be the record-tying catch earlier in the game was ruled an incompletion.

By the time the fourth quarter started, N.C. State was in full control and didn’t need to throw. But coach Dave Doeren wanted to make sure Emezie had a record-breaking ball to take with him back to Raleigh.

“We’ve been playing football at N.C. State a long time,” Doeren said. “And he’s the all-time receptions leader in school history. That’s a big deal. There are so many good receivers that have played here, so I’m proud of him. It’s not about how you start your career, it’s how you finish it, and he’s finished it in style.”

Coming full circle

Emezie’s career started with a moment that he refused to let define him. As a freshman in a game at Wake Forest, Emezie fumbled at the goal line what would have been the game-winning touchdown.

The Demon Deacons recovered and held on for the win. Emezie, a true freshman at the time, was emotional after that game. He’s been as solid as they come catching the ball ever since.

As he stood in the bowels of Alumni Stadium on Saturday, he took a moment to soak in how he’s come full circle since that moment.

“You go through ups and downs in life,” Emezie said. “Everyone goes through ups and downs. Every player in their career has had crazy plays they wish they could have back. You just have to keep persevering.”

Emezie was injured early in training camp and admitted he didn’t know how much he would be able to play this season. He’s played enough to lead the team in receptions and receiving yards and to a 5-1 record.

“That was part of the reason why he came back, to leave a legacy,” fellow wide receiver Thayer Thomas said. “We love seeing each other have success. Trying to get him that catch was a special moment because we’ve played more than 130 years of football here and for that to happen just tells the type of player he is. It’s been a great ride with him.”

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting