Pack Pride Q&A: Des Kitchings

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Des Kitchings was named running backs coach at NC State in February and last week Tom O'Brien stated that he would also be coaching tight ends. Kitchings spoke with Pack Pride and touched on a number of topics in this exclusive Q&A.

You were hired in February. What are your thoughts of Raleigh?
We've been thoroughly impressed. My wife and kids are really enjoying the area. There is a lot to do for my kids, who are 6, 4, and 2 in August. We have some fairly young kids but with the mall and museum downtown and different attractions, there are a lot of things for my family to participate in.

Also, there are some great golf courses in the Raleigh area, and that's been neat. We've enjoyed living here.

What has the transition been like for you on the field so far?
The transition has been awesome... it's been great. I've been fortunate enough to inherit a position with a lot of experience with James Washington and Tony Creecy having played a lot last year. So I've inherited players who have played which certainly makes it easier.

What are some of the major traits you stress at tailback?
First and foremost we have to protect the football. At no time is it excusable to turn the ball over.

Also, we have to be assets and not liabilities in pass protection, from being able to protect the football and protect the quarterback. It's the nature of the position.

More specifically, we've stressed to continue to evolve as players and become better at finishing our runs. We want to be better ball carriers after contact and in the open field, making defenders miss, looking to make big plays.

We need to be aggressive runners going forward, whether that's between the tackles or on the perimeter.

This staff has had a lot of stability and chemistry. Do you feel like you have clicked with them?
Being the new guy coming in and this staff pretty much being intact for a period of time, I've felt like I fit right in. The main thing is I don't have to try and be someone that I'm not. It's a natural fit for me.

That's made the transition even better from a standpoint of going to work everyday and having a great relationship with the guys. It's been a terrific working environment.

What are your recruiting territories?
I have roughly eight counties in North Carolina. I also have half of South Carolina, about a third of Georgia, and all of north Florida.

You previously coached at Vanderbilt and Air Force. Did you have similar areas at those schools?
We didn't do much recruiting in North Carolina when I was at Vanderbilt, but my territories there focused mainly in Atlanta... the metro area. Then I had Dade and Broward county in south Florida, and I'd spot-check on some guys in South Carolina with me being from there. Finally, I had an area in Tennessee because that was our home state.

When I was at Air Force I just recruited Houston, Texas. That worked out well because it is similar in a lot of ways to Atlanta.

You went into schools this spring recruiting for NC State. What has been the vibe you've received about the program from high school recruits and coaches?
It's been ultra positive. I believe having the spring game televised on the ESPN networks and being re-aired the last couple of months... that has only enhanced our brand at NC State.

Overall it has all been positive, and I think it's a reason for our strong start in recruiting.

What appealed to you about NC State that made you want to pursue the job back in February?
Well, there were a few factors. First of all, I'm from South Carolina and only lived west of the Mississippi River one other time, when I was in Kansas City. The opportunity to get back home was a big impact.

Also, when you look at coach O'Brien's body of work at Boston College and his body of work here at NC State, I knew it was a great opportunity. You look at the last two years when you feel like he has had his team intact and the success that has come with it... winning 17 games, two bowls, that's appealing.

It's appealing to know that I can come in and contribute in some way from a coaching aspect and also have a legitimate chance to win in the ACC.

Overall, I felt like the program was headed in right direction and there is a chance to contend for an ACC title.

You're regarded as a strong recruiter, but you also have some experience as an offensive coordinator. Often college assistants are labeled great recruiters or great coaches... how would you define yourself as a coach? Do you enjoy recruiting or coaching more than the other?
I believe it's important to be well-rounded in both because both are critical to the success of your program. You obviously must be able to go out and recruit players that fit your system, but you also have to enhance that and develop great performers on the field. You've got to be able to coach them up when they get here and also see them continue to prosper and develop.

I take a lot of pride in being able to say I can be a successful recruiter but also that I can coach and see these young men develop from the first day they get on campus. They should be a better player and person when they leave from under my care.

What has it been like to learn under an experienced offensive coordinator in Dana Bible?
That's been awesome. Coach Bible has a long history of being a successful coach and with his system he's implemented he's been successful with it offensively, both production-wise and with it translating into wins.

There is something that he is doing that is correct between he and coach O'Brien. When you're a young coach and look at what goes into the profession and what can benefit you personally in your career, coach Bible and his staff have a lot to offer guys in my position.

From the day I got here I wanted to be able to contribute my thoughts, but I knew I better have my listening ears on and pay attention to what is going on because a lot of things are going right already with the success they've had.

What is your philosophy going to be trying to coach tight ends and tailbacks together?
One thing about it is our tight ends, they move around a lot too. There is a lot of similar material between our fullbacks and our tight ends in a good percentage of our offense. That will make the handling of those two positions a lot easier.

If you notice, we do a lot of motion with our tight ends and shifting in and out of the backfield just like we do with our fullbacks and h-backs, so I think it should work out well.

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