There are a handful of programs and coaches that can sometimes seem to change just about any recruit’s mind. It does not matter who they are committed to. If certain schools call or offer they give them their undivided attention.
That is one reason why NC State deserves a lot of credit for the way they have recruited James Valdez. The Pack has certainly had their fair share of success flipping recruits. One of the biggest in this last class was Darian Roseboro. He turned down Michigan for the Wolfpack.
New Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh tried to return the favor in February by offering a scholarship to NC State commit James Valdez. That was not the reason Harbaugh offered. Valdez’s (5-11, 178) explains that fully. The offer was a big topic of discussion when it was reported but now the story is how NC State has made it a thing of the past.
Valdez was at NC State two weekends back and it was like he was a part of the team already. That is the kind of feeling coaches everywhere want to create. Some coaches orchestrate it better than others and some players feel it more than others. Valdez could not help but feel like his decision was the right one.
“I stayed the whole weekend out there and it was a great experience. I saw a lot of what the school’s all about. What the campus is like and all that. They made me feel welcome. I stayed with Freddie Phillips and he just got there. I know him real good because we’re from the same area. He’s from Columbia and I’m from Orangeburg and that’s only about 25 minutes away. We’ve been knowing each other since before he got to college so I’ve kept a good relationship with him. He got me to come to North Carolina State so to go up there and see him was a great experience.”
Valdez would not only pick NC State because he is friends with Phillips. That weekend was a perfect example of why those close friendships matter. As soon as Valdez got to campus he had a player connection that made it easy for Valdez to be introduced to everyone else. Phillips was his door to a relationship with many others.
Phillips is someone Valdez has put his trust in because of that history. When Phillips tells Valdez how he likes NC State he buys in.
“He loves it. He told me everything’s nice. They’re treating him well. He’s getting good playing time and he has no complaints at all. He says the school is great. Real great. He said I would love it up there. I met the whole team up there. You could say that really. I met a lot of people. Josh Jones, Jacoby the quarterback. I met both of the safeties, both of the corners, the linebacker number four.
“They’re all real cool. They keep it real with you. They tell you what it’s like. They tell you what kind of things you’re going to face when you get to NC State.”
Meeting players was a good sign of where the program is now by putting faces to the outcomes last season. Watching the scrimmage let Valdez see how the team’s future might be.
“They looked good. They looked real good. Me as a player I feel like when I come in they’re going to look even better because they look real sharp now. I expect they’ll do great. This year they’ve got the same team. Nobody really left. I expect them to go as far as they did last year and I expect them to do more. They’re a great team. They’re a team that’s getting to where it needs to be. Everything’s coming together.”
The players might have been the people Valdez spent most of his time with but the long weekend let Valdez talk to all of the coaches and trainers. Des Kitchings and defensive graduate assistant Sterling Lucas had the most to say. Since Valdez is so comfortable with NC State and he knows so many people it will be hard for any school to sway him from the path he is on.
“Schools are going to be schools. So if they see a great athlete of course they’re going to try to communicate. I’m not going to read too much into it because I’m set on where I want to go.”