Building Leadership

RALEIGH, N.C. -- NC State strength coach Jason Veltkamp has been happy with the team's work in the weightroom and the chemistry they are developing.

NC State strength coach Jason Veltkamp has been happy with the team's work in the weightroom and the chemistry they are developing.

"It's great," Veltkamp said of the chemistry. "I think that's one thing this team has learned. Coach Doeren is so big into developing leaders and developing character. Just helping kids make good decisions and learning how to make right choices, and also be encouragers of each other.

"If you don't have leadership from within it's hard to win football games. If you have kids on the field that demand you're accountable to what they need to do every single play then you have a chance. Those same guys are going to walk out of this place and demand accountability in public and in the classroom, things like that."

He talked even more about how several players have changed their bodies and making gains in the weight room.

"When we started going through our profile books [on Wednesday], we take before and after [pictures] throughout a kid's career," said Veltkamp. "We started pulling up pictures and putting them side-by-side, and I started text messaging kids and sending them pictures. There are guys that have completely overhauled their bodies... went from a kid's body to really a great looking Division I football player.

"That's fun to see. When you text that to them and they see it, those kids are so fired up and they can see the changes in their body. From a conditioning perspective these kids went so hard all summer long. They just did a great job and bought in to the things we're trying to get across to them about posturing. You never show you're tired even if you are tired. You have to posture like you're not tired because either you're going to energize yourself or energize somebody else. You don't want to show that. You don't want to show weakness.

"The kids just did an outstanding job buying in," he added. "Every kid... it was a fun summer because of that."

He specifically raved about how certain members of the team have made noticeable strides physically.

"I know I sent M.J. [Salahuddin] a text and congratulated him," said Veltkamp. "T.Y. McGill is ripped right now. Also Thomas Teal has lost so much weight and converted his body. He looks like a different person. Rodman Noel, outstanding change, big-body weight gains... you sit there and look a the pictures of those four guys.

"Forest West was maybe one of the most ridiculous changes, dropping body fat and gaining weight... just a great looking conversion for him. I'd highly expect him to show more speed off the edge this year because of the big changes he's made to his body. Those are some that jump out to me. Tyson Chandler has done a nice job."

"There are so many strength gains in kids, even seniors," he added. "Sometimes you see it taper off with seniors, it's a little hard to keep gaining, but we had some seniors with some outstanding testing periods. We're really encouraged by that. It's awesome."

Veltkamp seemed even more pleased with the vocal leadership being displayed by some of the players.

"There have been so many it's really hard for me to narrow it down," Veltkamp stated when asked about his leaders. "Pete [Thomas] has done an outstanding job this summer at quarterback. Tony Creecy is always great. Dontae Johnson has been awesome."

One senior who has really impressed Veltkamp has been safety Jarvis Byrd, who has missed more than two years due to a variety of injuries, including back-to-back ACL injuries.

"Byrd has been one of our best... vocal and encouraging," he said. "He'll straighten guys out too. Byrd, he wants to be great this year.

"Sometimes if you take something away from a kid, you lose playing time because of an injury, two injuries, however many injuries he's had... you look at the game a different way. It has a terminal side to it, rather than open-ended like the rest of these guys. He reminds them of that. Having it taken away from you, and when you have a guy with that experience who is willing to share it with guys that need to hear that, it's awesome. Byrd has been great for us this summer."

Veltkamp put the group through the Wolfpack Olympics in winter workouts and says Thursday's "Lift For Life" event sort of served as a conclusion to the workout sessions as fall camp starts in just a few days.

"In the winter it was kind of another day of grind, change things up," he said. "In the summer it's capping things off... saying we're ready to roll.

"It's obviously a great cause, and the thing I love about it is it's brought from within the team. They came to me, I think back in March, and said they'd really like to do this thing a second year and continue it on. [Tyler] Purvis and [Andy] Jomantas have done a lot of work for it a and it means a lot to them. They've got it to mean a lot to a lot of players.

"That's a great deal. Anytime stuff like that comes from within the team, hopefully that means you're headed in the right direction."

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