Eagles 5th-round pick Earl Wolff has Philly roots

Eagles 5th-round pick Earl Wolff has Philly roots
April 27, 2013, 2:15 pm
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Earl Wolff (see profile) didn’t care what team picked him or what round he was picked in, but his family certainly leaned toward one place.

Wolff on Saturday was surrounded by several cousins, uncles and other relatives who made the trek down South from North Philly when the Eagles picked him in the fifth round at 136th overall.

One of his uncles was wearing an Eagles hat when the phone rang, another wore an Eagles T-shirt that quickly made its way over to Wolff.

“Once I got the phone call they jumped on me,” Wolff said. “It’s just exciting. My mom (Sharon Davis) was born and raised in North Philly. So, basically, I’m coming back home.”

Wolff, who is from Raeford, N.C., could find permanent residence here if he fulfills the billing given by coach Chip Kelly, who cited the North Carolina State product’s toughness, explosion and versatility. Wolff led the Wolfpack in tackles this past season and has experience playing in the box and patrolling center field.

The endorsement from Wolffs’ coaches at N.C. State further impressed him upon Kelly and defensive coordinator Billy Davis.

“He’s a great kid. Everything the coaches said about him kind of ring true with what we want,” Kelly said. “An explosive, tough, hard-nosed physical player. When you can add some depth to your secondary, it’s always a bonus.”

Wolff joins a crowded house that includes free-agent signings Kenny Phillips and Patrick Chung along with incumbents Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman. But the position is hardly settled given the injury history of the newcomers and consecutive dismal seasons from Allen and Coleman.

At very least, Wolff said, his presence will be felt somewhere if not in the starting lineup.

“I have an engine,” he said. “I have a motor. I will come in and help immediately on special teams.”

Two weeks ago, general manager Howie Roseman discussed the depth of this year’s safety class, an indication that he believed the Eagles could pluck an impact player in the lower rounds. But since 2003, the Eagles have drafted 10 safeties in rounds ranging from 2 to 7 and none has come close to producing at a Pro Bowl level.

Their last one, 2011 second-rounder Jaiquawn Jarrett from Temple, was cut before the start of his second season. Allen, a second-rounder in 2010, enters the last year of his deal and has regressed in each of his four seasons.

But Kelly maintained that Wolff’s selection is like the team’s first three picks -- the best prospect on their board at the time.

“Earl is somebody that we, in a talented safety class, that we had kind of targeted [higher],” Kelly said. “So we were happy to get him. But it’s not like we’re looking at any position on our team and saying, ‘Hey, we’re all set there. Let’s not worry about that.’”

Wolff said the feedback he and his agent had received led him to believe he’d be picked anywhere between the second and fourth rounds.

“But, hey, it’s just a blessing to hear my name called,” he said.

Wolff broke out in his junior year, racking up 113 tackles to earn an All-Atlantic Coast Conference nomination. He picked up first-team All-ACC in his senior season after collecting a career-high 136 tackles.

He seemed especially proud of his off-field accomplishments, graduating in three-and-a-half years with a degree in sports management and having a squeaky-clean background.

“My mom has been in the Army National Guard for 20 years,” he said. “ She has always been big on discipline and I feel like she raised me well. She’s been the backbone of my life. I am where I am now because of her. I’ve never been in any trouble off the field. I’ve never had any academic violations or anything like that.”

Sharon attended the Philadelphia High School for Girls. She wasn’t the biggest football fan but Wolff had plenty of family members who were Eagles diehards.

Now, he has the chance to make Philly his home if he can outlast the competition at his position.

“I’m a hard worker. That’s how I got where I am now,” he said. “I feel like I’ve always outworked everybody. I feel like I can come in and play immediately.”

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