Pack Pride caught up with defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen and he gave an early assessment of his position group headed into spring practice and thoughts on the new recruiting rules scheduled to take effect in August.
Coach, can you give an overview of the defensive line and what your impressions have been of them as a whole headed into spring practice.
First off, we're a smart group. The intelligence of the players, in my opinion, is pretty high. They're a very hard working group as a whole from top to bottom. Sometimes there's a little bit of separation where maybe the first team or the second team is a little bit ahead of the other guys. But it's a group that really works hard together.
How about some of the individual players?
Individually, Darryl Cato-Bishop, is having a heck of a pre-spring so far. I think he's going to be a really good player. He sees the light at the end of the tunnel type deal with his senior year. At times their mind set changes because they figure out they don't have much time left.
Forrest West has had a heck of a start with us so far. Deylan Buntyn has been good. A.J. Ferguson has done a good job. Thomas Teal and T.Y. McGill, they work out together and push each other back and forth and you can see those guys improving. Joe Wright is a really good looking, tall, long-levered guy and he's coming along. He's developing strength and quickness with what we're doing right now.
I really like Mike Rose. He's totally bought in to what we're doing with the different styles and the change.
And one of the younger guys that's come the longest way is K'Hadree Hooker. He's changed his body, he's lost some weight, he's gained some strength, flexibility and quickness. He's done a good job. And then you've got a couple of guys that are hurt that we're hoping to get back.
But I think as a whole group, they've done a great job of really starting to build their foundation, their speed, strength and quickness and I think they'll be ready, after spring break for spring ball.
When you go out recruiting, what type of players are you looking for on the defensive line?
Playmakers. Honestly, I want playmakers here. Last couple of schools I was at we had long guys. We had short, compact guys. To me, it really doesn't matter. I want guys out there that love football, that are fast and very aggressive because there's a place for all different body types on the defensive line.
Recruiting has been a big focus with the new staff. What are your thoughts on the new recruiting contact rules that could take effect in August?
What we've been talking about is there are a lot of things still up in the air. There's been some talk with the different conferences about tabling some of the rules but right now it's just wide open.
I think there's some good things and some bad things with it but it's going to change the landscape of college football if it stays on track and get's pushed through. I don't think it will. I think some of it will get tabled. We'll see what happens and how it will effect the recruiting process.
If it does push through do you feel this will be good or bad for the high school players?
I think it depends on the football player, his family situation and the coach. Some guys will like it and have the time to do it and some guys won't.
What I don't think is good is ten coaches are calling and a kid is sitting in his math class. That's not helping anybody. They just raised the core requirements, courses and GPAs over the next couple of years and if we're calling and texting then they're not concentrated on their grades and so no one wins when they don't qualify.
There's already talk of some teams hiring entire recruiting staffs to take advantage of the new recruiting rules. What do you think NC State's response will be?
We're going to have to change. We're going to have to keep up with the Joneses as they say.
I don't know how much of a drastic a change it'll be for us. We're working on some things right now to prepare for the new rules but like I said nothing's finalized so we're waiting for all the conferences to get together and vote on what the changes are actually going to be.