Three NC State ISE alumni – Anton Ipsen (ISL), AJ Cole III (NFL), and Andrew Knizner (MLB) – are playing professional sports at the highest levels.
In 2014, Ipsen decided to pack up his goggles and head to NC State to swim for the Wolfpack. He didn’t take long to settle in and start breaking records. By the time the 2016 Rio Olympic Games came around, he had earned All-ACC, All-ACC Academic, and All-America honors. During the Olympics, Ipsen finished 18th in the 1,500-meter freestyle for Denmark and 20th in the 400-meter freestyle. He returned to lead the Wolfpack for his final season and finished off his stellar college career by taking his first NCAA Championship title in the 1650-meter freestyle. After graduating with a perfect 4.0 GPA, Ipsen joined the Cali Condors ISL team while he prepares for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. After the Olympics, Ipsen will attend MIT to get his master’s in statistics.
AJ COLE III
In February of 2014, AJ Cole III signed with the Wolfpack to punt for the football team and enrolled at NC State for the 2015 spring semester. He was a four-year starter and finished his collegiate career ranked second in the program’s history in punting yards and third in punts. As a junior, he was a finalist for the Wuerffel Trophy, an award given to the college football player who best combines exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement, and he was a semifinalist as a senior. During his junior year, Cole was one of 22 players in the nation to join the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, which honors community service. Cole’s commitment to service was best shown when he traveled on spring break to Nakuru, Kenya, where he volunteers at the Mountain Park Academy working with the children. This is something he had started in high school and continued throughout his time at NC State. After graduating in May, he attended the Oakland Raiders’ rookie mini-camp and impressed the team so much that they signed him to a contract. He later won the starting punting job during training camp and kicked off his rookie season in September.
In 2014, Andrew Knizner began his college career at NC State as a member of the baseball team. It didn’t take long for him to find success earning a spot on the ACC Academic Honor Roll, First Team Freshman All-America, and All-ACC third team. He was the first Wolfpack freshman to earn all-conference since Carlos Rodon in 2012. Before his sophomore season, he switched from third base to catcher. After his junior year, the St. Louis Cardinals drafted Knizner in the seventh round of the 2016 Major League Baseball draft. Knizner signed with St. Louis and made his professional debut with the Johnson City Cardinals. In 2019, he began the season with St. Louis’ Triple-A Memphis Redbirds. But on May 31, the Cardinals called him up to the major leagues for the first time. Knizner made his major league debut at Busch Stadium on June 2 versus the Chicago Cubs. On July 24, he hit his first major league home run against the Pittsburgh Pirates, leading St. Louis to a 14-8 win.