The Wolfpacker

September 2018

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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44 ■ THE WOLFPACKER East Carolina were down last year. Wake had a good year, but they probably don't recruit that much against NC State in terms of in-state. "I just think they are coming off a great year, and they have momentum with the NFL Draft and all the attention they got with that success. "Dave and his staff have done such a tre- mendous job with the high school coaches in the state. I don't think they leave any stone unturned when it comes to even the smallest high school. "I talk to the smaller high schools in our region, and that's one thing I ask, 'Have you seen coaches from these schools?' I get a good gauge on who's really beating the bushes out there. "Every time you ask one of these coaches at a smaller school or even a school that might not have been as successful, they say they see the State coaches all the time." Doeren said there is a combination of factors contributing to the stellar start, in- cluding luck. He noted that the city of Ra- leigh is a hot market, and when more than half of the recruits he talks to ask him what NC State can provide after football, the coach can't help but smile. "One of my D-linemen right now works for IBM, [redshirt junior] James Smith- Williams, as an intern," Doeren said. "We actually had IBM's executive team come in and interview players in front of the team and critique them on things they could have done better. "If we had Apple and Amazon [compa- nies who are considering the area for new offices] and IBM, are you kidding me? You can't get internships with much better companies than those three." The success has also been the culmina- tion of grinding to achieve the trust level of high school football coaches across the state. "When I first got here, people looked at me as a Yankee, even though I'm from the Midwest," Doeren said jokingly. "I had to prove myself to people. I had to build relationships. It takes time. You can't do that overnight." Then there is the success of the program. In Doeren's first season, his team won zero ACC games and just one NFL Draft pick. Five years later, the squad tied the school record for the most conference victories in a season with six and set a new standard for draft picks with seven. "It's not a blueprint anymore," Doeren noted. "It lives and breathes." Doeren's commitment to in-state recruit- ing is not just talk either. In his first five full recruiting class, NC State brought in 56 in-state natives out of 121 overall play- ers inked, which made up 46.3 percent of the school's signees. By comparison, in the same time period the chief rival down the road, UNC, signed just 32 in-state products out of 108 overall (29.6 percent). Prep coaches across the state have noticed, according to Brant Wilkerson-New's article in The News & Record. One anonymous high school coach noted UNC's lack of presence compared to NC State's abundance. "Nobody has really seen North Carolina in their schools; they're not banging the doors down," the coach said. "They're not really coming after our in-state kids like in the past years and past head coaches." It's the opposite approach of NC State under Doeren. It's also a smart recruiting strategy for the Wolfpack. in August unveiled its top 50 players in college football, and three of the top five were from the state of North Caro- lina — Stanford running back Bryce Love, West Virginia quarterback Will Grier and Clemson defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence. The hashtag "#homegrown" has been a common theme for this year's recruiting class at NC State, and there is the potential for more. J.R. Walker, a 6-1, 200-pound safety at Clayton High whom lists as the No. 33 athlete nationally and No. 18 prospect in North Carolina, is strongly con- sidering NC State. It's the type of class that Doeren was talking about when he proclaimed he wanted to keep the best in-state players in the state at his initial press conference after taking the job prior to the 2013 season. "I'll be damned if Doeren ain't building that fence all coaches talk about," sports anchor Mark Armstrong of WTVD tweeted during the summer. ■ Four-star defensive tackle Joshua Harris of Person High in Roxboro picked NC State in an announcement ceremony July 9. PHOTO COURTESY RIVALS.COM Four-star defensive end Savion Jackson is the No. 3 player in the state of North Carolina accord- ing to and is the top-rated prospect to have committed to an in-state school. PHOTO COURTESY RIVALS.COM

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