NC State linebacker Payton Wilson told reporters on Wednesday that he’s rejuvenated and ready for the 2022 season.

Wilson was a first-team All-ACC linebacker in 2020, but missed nearly the entire 2021 season due to a shoulder injury. Now healthy, Wilson is back alongside Drake Thomas and Isaiah Moore in NC State’s loaded linebacker corps.

“This is the best my body has ever felt,” Wilson said Wednesday, via On3. “I’m as big as I’ve ever been, I weigh the most and I think I’m as fast as I’ve ever been as well.

“When I was walking on the field today, I had to hold back tears … Because I do love this game. I’ve been playing this game since I was 5 years old, and I put my whole heart into it. Every day I go out there, I practice as hard as I can. So to be back out there, it means the world to me.”

Wilson is currently listed at 6-foot-4, 230 pounds.

Wilson’s breakout season in 2020 saw him total 108 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks in just 10 games of action. He also has 3 interceptions and 3 pass deflections in his career.

He’s amongst a group of 4 former first-team All-ACC defenders who are on this NC State defense. That continuity — as well as the return of quarterback Devin Leary — is a big reason why the Wolfpack are projected to be in the mix to win the Atlantic this season.

NC State is looking for its first 10-win season is over 20 years. Coach Dave Doeren has previously won 9 games in 3 different seasons, including the 2021 campaign.

NC State opens the 2022 season with East Carolina on Sept. 3.