Uncertainty surrounds NCAA football as NC State puts on pads

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Wednesday, August 19, 2020
Uncertainty surrounds NCAA football as NC State puts on pads
New clusters of virus cases have shuttered college campuses and several football programs.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- As local universities begin classes, several COVID-19 outbreaks among student athletes have caused schools to pause practices.

Tuesday night, Appalachian State's football team stopped practice indefinitely after seven players and four staff members tested positive for COVID-19. And Wednesday afternoon, UNC-Chapel Hill, which moved all classes online on Monday, announced that all athletic activities would be suspended until Thursday at 5 p.m.

WATCH: UNC-Chapel Hill suspends all athletics

Citing rising COVID-19 cases on campus, UNC-Chapel Hill announced all athletics would be suspended until Thursday at 5 p.m.

However, the Wolfpack put on pads for the first time Wednesday--a welcome sign that actual games might be around the corner.

Senior offensive lineman Joe Sculthorpe had his doubts this would ever happen.

"Being able to get back to actually playing football as opposed to just spreading and doing walk-through's and talking through things is a lot more fun than sitting around and questioning if we're even going to be able to hit at practice," Sculthorpe said.

As students begin classes, head coach Dave Doeren said he's staying flexible and keeping student health at top of mind.

"We're testing every day and we've been good," Doeren said. "We've had more scares than anything. You know a guy will have a headache and we've got to hold him out until he gets retested and then he's fine."

WATCH: NC State reports COVID-19 clusters at sorority houses

NC State University reported two COVID-19 clusters, totaling 13 cases at sorority houses in Greek Village.

RELATED: Here's an inside look at NC State's COVID-19 preparations before students head back to campus

Meanwhile, another future Pack opponent has opted out. Wake Forest star wide receiver Sage Surratt decided not to play this fall, sharing the news on social media.

Fellow receiver Emeka Emezie said he understands why Surratt may not want to play.

"I mean everybody has their different feelings about the season and what not," Emezie said. "I was kind of having that struggle like 'now what's going to happen', but now I just try to take every day as it is."

RELATED: NC State sets up COVID-19 contact tracing program for students, staff

Surratt, whose brother Chazz is a star linebacker at UNC-Chapel Hill, is the fourth All-ACC caliber player on State's schedule to pull the plug on the season. Emezie is watching the news, but also remains committed to his team.

"Just give a hundred percent," Emezie said. "If you're thinking about what's going to happen or what's not going to happen you're going to miss the present."

Earlier this month, Chazz Surratt said he plans to play another year for the Tar Heels because it would help his draft status.