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Notebook: Auguste stands out on first day

As reported in the notebook, the only player not in attendance was starting defensive tackle Ladi Ajiboye. Ellis Johnson, asst. head coach for defense, said Ajiboye is dealing with personal issues but remains on the team.

Johnson said the issues are not university- or academic-related. Not sure if Ajiboye will be practicing after spring break or not.

–I know it was the first day and players weren’t in pads, but I’d be surprised if Akeem Auguste is not one of the starting cornerbacks at N.C. State.

Auguste, who saw action at safety last season, intercepted Aramis Hillary in 7-on-7 drills, then picked Reid McCollum a couple plays later when he ripped the ball away from Jason Barnes.

The only thing that could keep Auguste out of the lineup is school. I’m told he and corner C.C. Whitlock need to have good semesters to be eligible.

–Tight end Weslye Saunders is looking forward to being a bigger part of the offense following the departures of Jared Cook and Kenny McKinley.

“I’ve been waiting for this role since I got here in ’07. Me and my roommate, Jason Barnes, I think it’s time for us to step up and become leaders on this team,” he said. “Not just on the offense, but the team as a whole. The team’s going to be relying on us to make plays.”

–Middle linebacker Rodney Paulk said his left knee, which caused him to take a medical redshirt in the fall, is about 90 percent. Judging by the way Paulk moved Thursday, he will be a handful to block when he’s 100 percent.

–Left tackle Jarriel King, who had a heart procedure on Jan. 23, is not sure when he’ll be cleared for contact. King had good things to say about the new assistant coaches, particularly the two he works most closely with – O-line coach Eric Wolford and strength coach Craig Fitzgerald.

“It’s a 180. It’s a turn in the other direction. I love coach Fitz. I love coach Wolf,” he said. “The new coaches we’ve got – they’re hard when they need to be hard. They put the pressure on us. But outside everything, they relax and they try to relate to us. So I don’t feel like I’m just working for a boss. I feel like I’m working for a coach.”