The graduation of linebackers Audie Cole and Terrell Manning's early exit to the NFL left glaring holes in the Wolfpack's defensive depth chart. The coaches likely feel they took a huge step in the direction of filling at least one of those spots when they landed a commitment from 6-3, 240 pound College of the Desert (CA) linebacker Robert Caldwell. Pack Pride talked with NC State's final commitment for the class of 2012 in this Q&A.
Robert, being a west coast guy, I'm guessing it was your first time to NC State. What did you see at NC State that led to your decision to commit?
I was born in Spartanburg (SC) and NC State is only three hours away. But I got there, I met with the coaches and they all seemed like really cool guys. I hung out with several of the players and saw all the facilities and what the coaches were presenting to me.
State lost a couple of their starters at linebacker this year to graduation and the NFL. Was that something the State coaches were pushing during your visit?
Yes sir. They want me to come in and fill the mike linebacker spot.
Who hosted you on your visit and what kinds of things was he telling you about NC State?
Sterling Lucas hosted me on my visit. He was telling me they have an outstanding strength and conditioning coach. Their linebacker coach is really good. He's got a really good resume. He's coached everybody from Notre Dame to NC State. I mean, once I heard that I was pretty much sold.
Did you have a chance to spend some time with coach Tenuta?
Yes sir, I did. We talked and I also talked with the defensive coordinator and we had some chalk talk and everything like that. Once again I liked what they were saying. I like the play book and I also liked how the depth chart was looking.
Turning to your recruiting, just recently it sounded like you may have been destined to go to Iowa. What was the situation there?
I was talking to Iowa for a long time- since about midway through my season. But they disappeared for a little while and once they heard about other schools recruiting me, they came back. So I really didn't like that and I didn't feel like I was on top of their board so I just went with the better choice for me.
Who were some of the other schools recruiting you?
Washington, a little bit with Boise State, UNLV, Iowa, Iowa State and I talked to Kentucky and Florida for a while.
Did you make any other official visits?
NC State was the only one.
Back to football, looking at your film, it seems like you spent a lot of time rushing off the edge in your team's 3-4. How do you translate what you did there to NC State?
We did run a 3-4 and sometimes they would put me out on the edge to rush off the end. I played mike (linebacker) at College of the Desert so I'm familiar with inside the box. I've played middle linebacker my whole life. In certain situations, they just move me up to allow me to rush off the edge. I guess you could say I'm a versatile player.
NC State typically does a ton of blitzing with their linebackers so was that something you were looking for?
Oh, yes sir. During chalk talk with the coach, they did the same things. They'll bring the mike off the edge sometimes and then switch it up and let him go to the middle. I just feel like it's a perfect fit.
When do you plan to arrive at NC State?
I want to get there as soon as possible so I'll probably be up in early June. I want to try to make the first summer session which I think is the end of May and I get my AA (degree) on May 15. So I'm trying to get their as soon as I can so I can get used to practice, get familiar with the play book, get settled and everything like that.
How exciting is it to have the opportunity to continue your college career in football?
It's a dream come true, especially playing for a team at that level that's in one of the top conferences and puts players in the league every year.
This past season Caldwell tallied 41 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, one pass breakup, one forced fumble and one blocked kick en route to being named all-conference first team.
Pack Pride Q&A: Robert Caldwell
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