VELTKAMP: New Offensive Linemen Impress

NC State S&C Coach Jason Veltkamp has been pleased with the recently-enrolled offensive linemen.

NC State strength and conditioning coach Jason Veltkamp was a four-year starting offensive lineman at Carroll College, earning all-conference honors in 1993 and 1994, and he understands how hard it is to evaluate that position on the high school level.

"I coached o-line before I became a strength coach, and it's the hardest position, whether you're in the NFL trying to bring a guy up or you're in college trying to bring a guy up," said Veltkamp. "It's a hard eval. You've got to find a guy that can bend. Sometimes big guys dominate on film, but they are dominating lesser competition.

"Sometimes, when they get to this level they can't play o-line at the college level. They are too heavy-footed despite their size advantage. You see it all the time. Offensive line is a hard, hard eval."

NC State's approach to recruiting the offensive line under Dave Doeren has been to target players with length and "upside" frames but not necessarily college-ready when it comes to their current weight.

Veltkamp loves that strategy.

"Our coaches have done a great job," he said. "The kids that came to campus this year, I love them. They are light on their feet, and they all bend. I'd rather put 20 pounds on an offensive lineman than try to take 20 or 30 pounds off. It's almost always a better outcome, even if that other kid was four-stars but 340 pounds.

Aaron Wiltz

"Give me a one-star that's 285 pounds with light feet and was a basketball player in high school. Those guys often times develop into good offensive linemen on the college level moreso than those with weight issues who may have dominated in high school due to their size advantage."

NC State signed three prep linemen in the 2015 recruiting class, Emanuel McGirt, Aaron Wiltz, and Philip Walton and also brought in junior college transfer Daris Workman. All four players are over 6-foot-5 with frames capable of packing on the pounds. In fact, since arriving on campus this summer they've already started to bulk up.

"They all came in between, I believe the lowest was 276 pounds and the highest was 286 pounds," said Veltkamp. "They are all right around 290 to 295 pounds right now. The lowest is at 285 pounds, and he was the one that came in the mid-270s.

"I've been so impressed with them. They all can bend, which is a huge, huge thing for an offensive lineman moving up a level. They are great learners... intelligent kids who can pick up things fast."

Veltkamp has had a chance to spend a few weeks with the young linemen, and he has been impressed with their body awareness.

"They can manipulate their body the way you explain it to them," he said. "Once they get on the field and work with Coach U... an offensive lineman that doesn't have body awareness doesn't have a chance.

"These kids understand body positioning. You can tell them to tuck the chin, keep the shoulders back, work on their posture, and they can all self-correct. On the field when they start to learn the detailed specifics from coach U., their hand-positioning... things like that, they'll adjust."

"You can't pass block if you can't set your posture right," he added. "They all have good body awareness and it gives them a jumpstart. If that's not there, it's hard to play offensive line."

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