In his first years at NC State, when scholarships were few and funds were minimal, head coach Earle Edwards recruited only two states: Eastern Pennsylvania and Western Pennsylvania.
And then he added in a few local boys from North Carolina to round out his roster.
Edwards, a native of Huntington, Pennsylvania, was a graduate of Penn State with a degree in engineering and had been a long-time assistant for the Nittany Lions.
He was an assistant on the 1947 Penn State team that went undefeated in the regular season and tied No. 4 SMU in the Cotton Bowl. He then went to Michigan State as the ends coach and helped the Spartans go a perfect 9-0 during its 1952 national championship season.
Edwards knew when he got the opportunity to become a head coach, he would be able to bring top talent from his home state to Raleigh, with the help of his defensive coordinator, Al Michaels, who was a Dubois, Pennsylvania, native and also a Penn State alum.
And they did.
Nearly the entire first recruiting class they signed came from the steel mill and coal towns they were familiar with around the state, including a pair of running backs, Dick Christy and Dick Hunter, who would eventually help the Wolfpack win its first ever ACC title.
When Edwards took his edition of the Wolfpack team to State College in 1956 to face his alma mater, the Pack had more starters from the Keystone State than the Nittany Lions.
The following championship season, there were 33 Pennsylvanians on the roster and 13 North Carolinians. Ten of the team’s 11 starters in the first platoon were from Pennsylvania, and the only one who wasn’t, center Jim Oddo, hailed from neighboring Delaware.
As the No. 20 ranked Wolfpack prepares to go to the Keystone State this weekend for its first trip to Pittsburgh since a disastrous 34-0 loss there in 1987, here’s a list of Wolfpack individuals and combos from that state who made a huge difference during their careers.
Little Artie Rooney, quarterback/punter, Pittsburgh: The first cousin of Pittsburgh Steelers founder and team owner Big Art Rooney, the younger Rooney literally grew up in a football family and was raised in his cousin’s home. He made his way to Raleigh in 1936 and starred as the quarterback for head coach Doc Newton.
Though small, at 5-10, 185 pounds, Rooney was a triple-threat offensive player who was selected as an All-Big Five selection and was among the best quarterbacks in the Southern Conference, even though Newton’s Wolfpack never had a winning season during his career. Rooney was also a multiple letterman for the Red Terror swimming team.
Dick Christy, RB, Chester, and Dick Hunter, Leechburg: The one-two backfield combination featured Christy as the bruiser and Hunter as the speedster. It was often said that no one wanted to tackle Christy because he would run over them and no one could tackle Hunter because he would run by them.
Christy is most remembered for scoring all 29 points in the 1957 season finale against South Carolina, including a field goal after time expired. But Hunter, who was the team’s regular kicker through the season, scored all the points in the season-opener, a 7-0 victory over North Carolina that set the team on a path to win the first ACC title in school history.
Dick “Amedeo” DeAngelis, DL, Reading: He was a fine football player as a member of the 1957 ACC championship team, but he was an even better restaurateur. In 1963, while still an assistant coach for the Wolfpack, DeAngelis opened a 16-table Italian joint on Western Boulevard because he missed the subs and hoagies he grew up eating in Pennsylvania.
Today, Amedeo's is a virtual museum of NC State Wolfpack athletic memorabilia and a must-stop place for lunch or dinner for returning alumni. DeAngelis retired and sold the restaurant a few years ago, but he still occasionally patrols the booths, all of which are named for State sports and media heroes.
Rosie and Chuck Amato, DL and LB, Easton: Rosie first came south from the Lehigh Valley to play for Edwards, and “Charles,” as he was always called by the coach, followed after a brief visit with the staff at the 1963 Liberty Bowl in Philadelphia.
Rosie was a regular for the 1963 and ‘64 ACC championship squads and later became an ACC football official. Chuck was the ringleader of the “White Shoes Defense” that won the school’s first ever bowl game 50 years ago this season, a dominant defensive squad that had six Pennsylvania natives in the starting lineup, with linebackers Amato and Mike Hilka (McKees Rock), defensive ends Pete Sokalsky (Allentown) and Mark Capuano (Neville Island), and defensive backs Greg Williams (Danville) and Bill Morrow (South Williamsport).
Chuck then went into coaching under Lou Holtz, Bo Rein and Bobby Bowden before returning to NC State as head coach from 2000-2006. He’s still in coaching, but plans to return for a 50th anniversary reunion with his teammates in November.
Bill Yoest, OL, Pittsburgh: The only Wolfpack offensive lineman ever named first-team All-American other than Jim Ritcher, Yoest was a key component to Lou Holtz’s twin veer offense. He played at North Catholic High in Pittsburgh before coming to Raleigh as a member of Edwards’ final recruiting class.
A four-year letterman, a two-year All-ACC selection and the winner of the 1973 Jacobs Blocking Trophy, Yoest had his No. 63 jersey retired in 2003. Yoest played professionally with the Houston Texans and the Florida Blazers of the World Football League.
Bill Cowher, LB, Crafton, Kyle Wescoe, LB, Bethlehem, Kevin Scanlon, QB, Beaver Falls: While Lou Holtz began looking to different areas outside of North Carolina for his recruiting base, specifically Ohio and the Tidewater area of Virginia, his final recruiting class included three Pennsylvanians that made an impact. Cowher, from the borough of Crafton outside of Pittsburgh, and Wescoe of Bethlehem played together for four years, making immediate impacts as freshmen and holding the defense together on Holtz and Bo Rein teams that were known for the offensive productivity of All-American running back Ted Brown.
As a senior, Cowher had 195 tackles, a single-season team record that still stands today, just as Brown’s career mark of 4,602 rushing yards remains the best in school.
While Cowher went on to have well-known coaching career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, including a Super Bowl championship, Wescoe remained in the Triangle and his daughter, Caitlyn, played for the NC State women’s soccer team.
Scanlon, who broke most of Joe Namath’s passing records at Beaver Falls High School, spent only two years at NC State and played in only one game.
Holtz re-recruited him when the coach left the NFL’s New York Jets for Arkansas and, as a senior, Scanlon was named the Southwest Conference Player of the Year after leading the league in total offense and passing accuracy and taking the Razorbacks to the Cotton Bowl.
Marc Primanti, PK, Coatesville: Nobody could have been better than Primanti was during the 1996 season, when the former walk-on made all 20 field goals and all 24 PATs he attempted en route to winning the Lou Groza Award as the nation’s top placekicker and being selected a first-team All-American.
He set the ACC record with 27 consecutive field goals during his career and earned a degree in business management in 1997. He still lives in Raleigh, where he is a partner with FS Series, a company that stages running events.
Even during his years as head coach, Pennsylvania native Amato didn’t look as frequently to his home state as a recruiting base, though among the players he did recruit from there was wide receiver Darrell Blackman and quarterback-turned tight end Marcus Stone. Blackman, a three-time All-ACC specialist for his kickoff returning success during his career, is the only Pennsylvania native since Primanti to earn all-conference honors for the Pack. This year’s roster has only one player, Pittsburgh-born redshirt freshman walk-on fullback Logan DeBoer, from Pennsylvania.
Tim Peeler is a regular contributor to The Wolfpacker and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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