Before the head strength and conditioning coach position for the NC State football team opened up this winter, it had been quite some time since former four-year letterwinner Corey Edmond had been back to Raleigh.
In fact, it had been since 2003, when the Murphy Center opened, that Edmond was on campus last, so he was taken aback by how much things have changed during his absence.
"It's great to come back to NC State, it's a great feeling," he said. "I've been gone a while so it will take some getting used to. When I came back and walked the facility, I was just floored by the changes - the facility itself and the whole stadium have transformed over the years. It isn't just the stadium or the athletics buildings, though, the whole campus has changed and grown so it's an exciting time.
"I was very excited when I heard about the opening, it was a great opportunity. I couldn't have asked for anything better than this situation. I've been out in this profession for 20 years and now I am getting the opportunity to invest in the lives of players at a place that is so dear to my heart."
Edmond lettered at linebacker for the Wolfpack from 1987-90 under coach Dick Sheridan. After graduation, he signed a free agent contract with the Houston Oilers in 1991 then returned to State to finish his degree in 1993 after his professional career ended. Then, he embarked on his coaching career; from 1993-95, he served as an assistant football coach at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga and then became the head strength and conditioning coach for the Mocs from 1996-99.
From there, he spent four years as the Assistant Director of Performance Enhancement at Oklahoma, where he was on the staff of an undefeated National Championship team. He spent the past eight years as the Associate Athletic Director/Director of Performance Enhancement at the University of Arizona before accepting his new post.
Although Edmond has been far from the Wolfpack and ACC, working on the west coast for so long has afforded him the opportunity to keep a close eye on the Red and White from afar.
"On the west coast, if we had a 7:00 game, we're pretty much able to watch every game in the country," he said. "Usually, we were the last ones to play so we sat in the hotel rooms all day and watched a lot of games. I follow football a lot because I'm an avid fan and I've always followed NC State to see how they're doing. I'm very familiar with what they do and many of the players. I've always supported NC State."
The Waverly, Va. native has the unique experience of briefly serving as an assistant football coach, in addition to his experience as a strength and conditioning mentor. The one constant in both positions is their reliance on teaching, according to Edmond.
"I think the greatest part about it is being able to teach," he said. "I try to study people who have been champions all throughout their lives. You can go back and look at Chuck Noll or John Wooden. Those were guys that were able to teach the game, the basic fundamentals of the games; that's what I'm all about, being able to motivate and teach.
"I heard a wonderful quote one time about a young man who was watching a game where the coach wasn't saying anything during the game. The kid asked, 'why isn't the coach talking during the game?' The kid was asked, 'have you ever heard somebody talk during a test?' During a test, it's quiet but when we're studying and preparing for the test, that's when we coach. I've found that a coach doesn't have to yell on the sideline when kids have been prepared at practice. That's what I want to be known as - a guy who prepares his guys over the course of the year and, at game time, it's as simple as anything for those guys to complete the task and do what they're trained to do."
In Edmond's eyes, being a strength and conditioning coach is far more than helping players increase their bench press by 50 pounds or shaving 0.2 seconds off of a 40-yard dash time.
"We know we have to get faster, we have to get stronger and we have to be carrying the right weight for our size, but I think the part that a lot of people don't understand is all of the other small, intangible things, the things you can't quantify and put a number to - that's getting into these kids' lives, mentoring them and instilling confidence in them," he said. "Being able to continue to develop these kids and be a part of their lives, that's one of the greatest things that I can do."
Edmond said the Murphy Center is among the top facilities that he has ever stepped foot in, and he noted that he's been across the country checking out other schools' weight rooms since he got into coaching. He also explained that it's impossible to have one overarching philosophy towards strength and conditioning for a team made up of so many players with so many different goals.
"My philosophy is forming," he said. "I have to go in there and see what they have, see what the needs of the team are. Once you look at the needs of the team, you can move on to what needs to be done at each position; each position could be different. Some guys have to get faster, some guys have to get stronger, some guys may just have to put on weight and some may have to do all three. You can't have just one philosophy for the whole team, you have to look at what each individual needs.
"I can tell you one thing, we're going to be a fast and physical team, that's for sure. Every coach wants a fast and physical team in every sport - college or professional. The good teams are always fast, physical and smart."
Strength and conditioning coaches are an integral part of any football program because they are able to spend so much time with the student-athletes. While the NCAA regulates how much time football coaches can have with their players, there are no such restrictions for a strength coach.
"Your strength coach better be the heartbeat of your team," Edmond said. "We're with the players every single day, we build relationships with those guys, we know what goes on and we know each guys' strengths and weaknesses. It's our job to strengthen our strengths and eliminate as many weaknesses as we possibly can. If your strength coach cannot tell you the heartbeat of your team, it's a problem because he needs to know the pulse of the team. Most times, he needs to generate excitement and it starts in the weight room.
"Going into the offseason, we will have the mentality that we will defend our home, you don't want to go into the den of a Wolfpack. The guys have to know it and they have to hear, feel and see it from me. That's one of the things; since I played here, I understand that when we play in Carter-Finley, it is a special thing and they have to understand that it's a special thing, we don't allow anyone to come into our house."
In addition to building strength, Edmond is focused on helping NC State to build a football program, not just a team from year-to-year.
"I think the one thing that I would love to see happen is we create more tradition," he said. "Everybody talks about tradition, but these young guys who are playing now need to know and need to see the guys that used to play. They need to know the tradition that we had and continue to build that tradition. We don't want to just build a team, but we want to continue to build a program; when you have a program, it's long-lasting.
"I'm just excited to get started [Edmond began working with players on Monday morning]. The community should be excited and get behind us in everything we do. The community recruits, the community builds football programs and the community is the lifeblood of this football team. I'm just excited to be back in the community and I hope the community really gets behind us this year. I've heard the community has done a phenomenal job and I can't wait to walk into that stadium for the first time. I don't know what the feeling is going to be like because I haven't walked in since I was a player, but I'm sure it will be pretty electrifying for me."
Cleaning Out The Notebook: More Quotes From Edmond
More on his duties as a strength and conditioning coach: "I've been blessed to be good at what I do, but I think my greatest asset is being able to and wanting to be a mentor to these young men and helping them build their lives. 10 or 20 years down the road, I want to be able to come back and say, 'that's a fine young man, he's an asset to our society and he's an asset to the Wolfpack program.' I think sometimes in live and sports, we're so locked in on everything else that we forget our main focus is showing these young guys how to be men. If we can do that, I think winning will take care of itself."
On what he's looking forward to about stepping into Carter-Finley Stadium for the first time in several years: "I'm really looking forward to a game at Carter-Finley Stadium because I've heard so many great things about the atmosphere. That's what I'm excited to see because I've been told by so many people that fans come, they pack the house and they are very loud. That's one thing I'm excited to hear and excited to see. It almost makes you excited as you go into the offseason because I can let these guys know, 'Hey, we have the support, we have the backing, we have to make this our house.'"
On winning the National Championship at Oklahoma in 2000: "Number one, we probably screwed up the whole landscape of college football because we won it after being there for only two years. That put a lot of stress and pressure on a lot of people to win early. One of the things when I went there with [Director of Sports Enhancement] Jerry Schmidt that he said was, 'we're going to rejuvenate this program and we're going to take it to another level.' It was all about starting from day one in the weight room and changing the mentality of the kids. We had to instill the mentality that it was possible for us to win a championship. We were blessed to be one of the very few teams that went undefeated at 13-0 and that's very difficult to do. At the same time, we stressed to the players that it's a team concept and that, with hard work, it can get done. The last piece also is an excitement throughout the community, that's where we got the feeling that, 'Hey, we can win championships here.' It has to resonate not only from our staff and players, but the community."
On his favorite memory from his NC State playing days: "Most people would probably bring up the game against Southern Miss and Brett Favre; that's probably my claim to fame. The opportunity to play in that game and sack Brett Favre a couple of times was a joyous experience, but I think the greatest thing about my playing career is not just one memory; it's the guys I played with. They graduated, they're fine men in the community and just being able to talk with those guys today is probably the best thing I've gotten out of being a player at NC State. I still have those relationships and bonds to this day. We won some good games, too; but I think the most gratifying thing in the world to me is that after 20-some odd years, we still have those relationships today. A lot of those guys are still in Raleigh or come back to Raleigh [for games]. I'm looking forward to having those guys at every game.