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August 1, 2012
When tight ends coach Don Horton stepped down in May to become an assistant director of football operations, Wolfpack head coach Tom O'Brien had two objectives in mind to replace him on the staff.
He wanted to get a receivers coach, and, as O'Brien admitted at ACC Kickoff in Greensboro, N.C., last week, he wanted the staff to get younger. Luck had it that former Texas A&M receivers coach Troy Walters saw on the internet about Horton's departure, and the 1999 graduate of Stanford had some connections on the NC State staff.
One was a relationship that he had maintained with State running backs coach Des Kitchings since the two were in training camp with the Indianapolis Colts together. Walters, who won the Bilentikoff Award as college football's top wide out in 1999 and spent eight seasons with four different teams in the NFL, reached out to Kitchings about the Wolfpack opening.
Kitchings in turn passed Walters name along to offensive coordinator Dana Bible, who ironically had coached Walters briefly at Stanford when Bible served a three-year stint as the offensive coordinator for the Cardinal.
Bible almost immediately reached out to Walters.
"He said he was going to get in touch with Coach O'Brien and tell him about myself," Walters recalled. "I guess he did. I didn't hear from Coach O'Brien for about another month, then all of the sudden Coach Bible called one Saturday and told me that job was still open and would I be interested.
"Then Coach O'Brien called and told me he wanted to fly me out and interview me. That's kind of how it happened."
Thus started a whirlwind couple of weeks for Walters.
"But it was good though, a good change," Walters noted. "I interviewed, got the job, got married, went on a honeymoon and then two days later I'm back here starting a job. It all worked out. Timing was perfect.
"The transition was easy. We have a great staff who made the transition easy. So I feel like I am settled in and ready to settle on football."
Walters excelled as a player in football despite his small size (he was listed in the NFL at 5-foot-8, 171 pounds) for two reasons. One was he utilized his quickness to offset his size disadvantage, and secondly he worked for it. Walters tries to spread a similar message in his coaching.
"I feel like there is only one or two guys in this world that can get away on athleticism," he stated. "Everyone else it's the little things: technique, details and the desire to be great. That's what I try to instill, a desire to be great, do everything excellent, and that's my approach.
"First of all they got to be able to catch the ball. I don't care who you are, if you can't catch you can't play. I don't discriminate. All receivers come in all different sizes. Everybody has a talent. Everybody has a gift. You just got to utilize your strength to your advantage. So if you're smaller like I was, I had to be quicker, I had to make guys miss. If you're a bigger guy you have to go up and use your body. Everybody has strengths and weaknesses."
It has also not taken Walters long to figure out his sales pitch about NC State to perspective recruits. Walters has not yet settled into a recruiting territory and is mainly focusing on helping out with wide receiver targets like Johnathan Alston from Bunn (N.C.) High and Kyrin Priester from Brookwood High in Snellville, Ga.
However, when Walters does get assigned his recruiting territory, he wants to be aggressive in identifying prospects.
"Get on the kids early, really show them who I am as a coach and how if they come to North Carolina State how they can grow as a man, as a football player and as a student," Walters said. "I think the key is get on these kids early, sophomore, junior years, show them the campus and the facilities, and once you do that it's hard to say no to North Carolina State."
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