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December 2, 2012
When NC State athletic director Debbie Yow announced Nov. 25 that she was firing Tom O'Brien after six seasons as the football coach for the Wolfpack, she made it clear that her new hire would be both aggressive and assertive on the recruiting trail.
From the sounds of it, O'Brien's replacement, Northern Illinois football coach Dave Doeren, is both of those.
"Recruiting is competition and it's relationships, and I love both of those things, and I look forward to selling the product that we have here," Doeren said at his introductory press conference Dec. 2.
Doeren has an extensive background dealing with recruiting. He coordinated the recruiting efforts at previous stops at Wisconsin and Kansas as well as FCS power Montana. Through his experiences he has learned several valuable lessons that he will use on his new job in Raleigh.
First is to try to start building a wall around the state of North Carolina. The mass exodus of the top talent leaving the borders for other programs has been building in recent years, and was never more visible than this fall when Georgia came close to reaching the national title game while featuring a pair of true freshmen running backs from North Carolina.
The starter was Todd Gurley, a native of Taboro, which is a little over an hour east of Raleigh. Gurley led the Bulldogs with 1,260 yards and 16 touchdowns rushing. His backup was Raleigh-native Keith Marshall, who ran for 723 yards and eight scores.
"Seeing all the great players from North Carolina starting as freshmen at other schools is upsetting," Doeren said. "It is, and I am going to fight for those guys, and we're going to do it the right way."
Doeren wants to start identifying the top players in the state when they are freshmen and sophomores, getting them on campus and at games early and often. He will also work to build a relationship that will include the local high school coaches. All of that is part of a process that Dorean said would "make it where they don't want to leave home."
"If they want to leave, it's going to be really hard," Doeren continued. "They are going to have great relationships with me and our coaches. We're going to know them as people, we are going to know their moms and their dads and their mentors, whoever that person in that life that touches them we are going to know.
"We are going to get them here, get them to our games, and we're going to make it very difficult. That's what you do."
Doeren also understands the value of finding recruits that will fit your program. In Doeren's case, that includes recruits that have strong desires to be at NC State, represent the school and to get coached to be their best.
"Those are people that I believe," Doeren said. "Those are all characteristics of champions. When I recruit, I will be looking at how good a football player they are, don't get me wrong, but I am also looking at the upside of their leadership abilities, their intangibles, their heart, looking at how much better can I make this guy in four years and how much can he help me do that.
"We've all heard the stories of guys that weren't recruited that became great players, and those guys are just as important as the five-star guys. We'll be looking at everybody. I think you have to know what you want in your program. You have to know the system that you are recruiting them in to."
Doeren does not feel that his background coaching predominantly in the Midwest will cause a learning curve to recruiting in the Southeast. He noted that while at Wisconsin he was responsible for recruiting the state of Florida.
His most prized recruit though was four-star running back Montee Ball of Timberland High in Wentzville, Mo. Ball played as a true freshman in 2009 and leaves the school four seasons later as the NCAA's all-time leader in career touchdowns. He also led the country in 2011 in rushing with 1,923 yards.
Doeren noted that during his time he has found that recruits like Ball are more drawn to the brand and values of the school more than anything. Twenty recruits had already recognized NCSU's positives this recruiting cycle and given the Pack verbal commitments.
Two - Weston (Fla.) Cypress Bay High running back Matt Dayes and Kissimmee (Fla.) Osceola High defensive back Hassan Childs - have backed out of their pledges. Several others may have softened up in the days following O'Brien's dismissal.
Doeren had already begun the process of reaching out to the 18 remaining pledges by the time of his introductory press conference. His goal is to assure the commits that all of their scholarship offers will be honored and at the same time begin the process of building a relationship with them.
After all, as Doeren stated, that's what recruiting is all about.
N.C. State NEWS