Dave Doeren admits that he's always looking for an advantage when it comes to recruiting, and one of the ways he can potentially gain traction with a recruit is through frequent interaction on Twitter.
"Obviously I'm in communication as much as I can be," he said. "I do feel like recruiting is one of my strengths. As a head coach I'm very active in that role. I'm messaging as much as I can with certain guys, building relationships with them that maybe another school's head coach doesn't do that. We feel like it gives us an advantage that I will [do it]."
Social media also provides the coaches with another avenue to evaluate prospects. Tweets, pictures, videos, etc... are being tracked, and it can certainly impact a recruit's status with the Wolfpack.
"There's a lot of different things on that form of social media that you can find in recruiting," said Doeren. "Then there's also things you can find about people, I think. We're always trying to figure out who's the best fit. We actually do look at their pages, their pictures, what they write. There's several kids that we'll stop recruiting when we see some of the things they put on those pages.
"We're always trying to find not only the great player, but the right person for our program, the right fit for our program."
When Doeren finds the right person and lands a commitment, he and his staff are on Twitter letting Wolfpack Nation know right away. NCAA rules prevent schools from commenting publicly on verbal commitments, so members of the coaching staff often Tweet out references to the "Red Light" following a verbal commitment.
"The red light is what happens at NC State when we win a big game, whether it's football, whether it's basketball," Doeren said. "They light up the tower on campus. We use that illustration for when we add a member to our family. When we get a recruitment, we say, The red light is on in Raleigh.
"It's a way to acknowledge somebody making a life's choice to be part of our football family."
Listening to Doeren talk, it's obvious that he is a fan of Twitter. But, just how much is he on there?
"I don't know," he said. "My wife would tell you too much, for sure... I don't know how many minutes or hours, but I'm on there a lot. Enough where it bothers people at home probably, you know what I mean?"
SPECIALISTS ARE THE QUESTION MARK
Obviously the specialists are a question mark, and they should be.
NC State's replacing four-year starters at punter, kicker, and longsnapper. The Wolfpack knew it would be the case and feel like they've prepared for it. They landed commitments from A.J. Cole and Kyle Bambard in 2014 but both players greyshirted, and Doeren feels it helped them mature.
"We knew that was going to happen a couple years ago," he said. "We had a bunch of different types of specialists come through our camps, felt like A.J. Cole and Kyle Bambard were two really good guys, not just from a kicking standpoint, but the personalities. They were both athletic. Bambard was a quarterback also, was the Player of the Year actually in their division as a quarterback. He's an all-around football player, competitor.
"We needed to find guys that were mature enough that could handle playing as a freshman because we knew we were going to lose our guys at the same time. We did it two years out. Both of those young men stayed home for a whole year and gray shirted, which means they enroll at a later date after they've signed their letters of intent. A.J. Cole went on missions, foreign countries, helped rebuild villages. These guys are further along than I think most freshmen would be from a maturity standpoint. They're both talented."
Cole is slated to start at punter while Bambard is competing with walk-on Jackson Maples for the starting kicker position.
"We have Jackson Maples who is a local, went to Pinecrest High School, who is on the roster that has a really strong leg, redshirted for us last year, did all of our scout team kicking," said Doeren. "We're excited about him."
The longsnapping duties will be handled by true freshman Tyler Griffiths.
"He's tremendous," said Doeren. "[He] was a linebacker. We know he can run and tackle on our punt team as well."
They all are accomplished and have strong reputations, but it's a lot easier kicking or snapping in practice than in front of thousands of fans, and that will be the true test for the Wolfpack's young specialists.
"The thing about kicking and punting, it's like being a golfer a little bit," Doeren said. "You can go to the range and look like a really good golfer. You get on the tee and there's thousands of people up and down the fairway, maybe we're not as good a golfer anymore.
"We're not going to tell how good they are until they get in games and see how they can handle the pressure of college kicking."
LACK OF DEPTH ON THE OFFENSIVE LINE
Doeren seems fairly confident in the projected starting five offensive linemen.
"Quinton Schooley has played a ton of games at center," he said. "Joe Thuney has played center, guard, and tackle for three years now. Tony Adams has started at guard and center. Alex Barr has started at guard and tackle, so we have four guys back who have played a lot of football.
"The key is, what happens when one of them is hurt? Tyler Jones has played really well at left tackle in the spring. You've got your five guys right there."
Behind those five there's numbers but no proven options. When asked about his depth, he singled out two players who could help this season.
"I wish we had more depth," he said. "We need Bryce Kennedy to help us. We need him to take the next step. He's going into his fourth year in the program. Can he do that?
"Is Daris Workman a junior college player we signed, going to be able to play in his first year? He looks the part, I'll tell you that."
"It's not a deep group with experience," he added. "We signed three high school guys and a junior college guy who are all 6'5 and taller. They look good... they're just young."
WILL HINES IMPACT?
Coaches get asked in the summer to name true freshmen who might be difference makers, and as with recruiting, it's far from an exact science.
"I've never really charted what I thought was going to happen with the freshmen," said Doeren. "Sometimes the guy you thought that could play is more immature and couldn't play, and the guy you thought you were going to redshirt all of a sudden is the guy."
One freshman expected to be a contributor for NC State is Garner (NC) tailback Nyheim Hines. An outstanding athlete, Hines totaled 2,783 yards and 42 touchdowns as a senior.
He was recently tabbed a preseason freshman All-American by Athlon Sports, and while Doeren hasn't place those expectations on Hines he believes the 5-foot-9, 190-pound speedster to have a role.
"Nyheim is a guy that we're expecting to play because of his versatility," said Doeren. "Is he going to be a huge contributor? I don't know, but because he can return punts, return kicks, be a receiver, be a back, run fly sweeps, he was a Wildcat quarterback... he has so many skillsets. I'll be shocked if he's not out there.
"As a starter or backup, I don't know yet. You feel pretty confident that unless he's injured he can help us."
Hines primarily dominated at tailback for Garner, but NC State is so deep at the position, and he's versatile enough to make the move, he could impact at slot receiver for the Wolfpack.
"I think he could be in the slot," Doeren said. "I think he could play our slot or our 'Z.' They are both guys that we motion a lot, use in the jet game, catch balls underneath and outside.
"He's definitely going to be in space. I can tell you that."
Doeren likes where Jacoby Brissett is mentally right now.
"You get to see it," said Doeren. "He's in the weight room twice a day on his own. He comes in the morning and works on footwork and flexibility. You guys saw him, he looks as good as he's ever looked. He's lean... he's in a great place mentally."
Brissett isn't real vocal, but he can fill that role if it's needed.
"He's not a guy that says you need to be like me," Doeren said. "That's not him. He is who he is. He's consistent... the same guy everyday. He has some quirks to him like everybody does, and no one is going to outwork him. If he needs to speak up, he'll speak up. He's not afraid to do that."
Brissett rushed for 529 yards and three touchdowns last season, and he probably surprised observers with his ability to make defenders miss in space.
"Everybody said it [comes] from playing basketball," he said of his short-area quickness. "Growing up with my brothers, just running away from them. [Laughing] Running away from my mom when I'm in trouble or something. Just finding ways not to get hit."
Brissett seemed to try and avoid singling out his playmakers during his sit-down with reporters, but one player who he couldn't hide his enthusiasm for was sophomore tight end Jaylen Samuels. Samuels, who lines up all over the field for the Wolfpack, averaged 9.5 yards per carry and 16 yards per catch as a true freshman.
"He's the best... I don't even know how to describe him," said Brissett. "He's just a freak. He's never going to get tackled by the first guy. That's a stat that we keep track of, and it shows every week.
"Anytime we have an opportunity to get him the ball we get him the ball so he can make it happen."
Senior defensive end Mike Rose was blunt when asked about his college recruitment.
"I didn't have 100 offers coming out of high school," he said. "I had a couple."
Rose named NC State, Wake Forest, West Virginia, and Texas as the schools he had offers from while playing linebacker for Hillcrest (SC) High School.
He also remembers when he landed his first scholarship offer.
"I got my first scholarship offer after I knocked Marcus Lattimore out of a game," Rose said.
Who was that offer from? NC State.
He might be playing defense but that doesn't mean Rose isn't familiar with the team's offensive personnel. He is really high on the Wolfpack's tailbacks.
"I was surprised that Johnny Frasier was so fast," he said, laughing. "I was surprised for a guy that's 230. I didn't think he was fast, just a big back. Nyheim Hines, that kid can fly. Reggie Gallaspy has a real chance to play.
"We already had two horses back there, you have Shad and Matt. You add in these other pieces... Nyheim, he's like Matt. Reggie, he has a little bit of everything in him, and Johnny Frasier is a bruising back. We probably have a back for every style we're going to play."
Doeren indicated that redshirt junior linebacker M.J. Salahuddin has been fully cleared to return to action after suffering a torn ACL last fall.
"He's full go," said Doeren. "He's trained all summer. He feels great. I'm excited. The big thing for him now is the mental hurdle of playing football."