Maddox, a 2003 first-team All-ACC selection and preseason nominee for the Jim Thorpe Award, is one of the league's top defensive backs and arguably its top safety.
Entering his third season as a starter, Maddox will once again be counted on to direct the Wolfpack defense from his rover position.
"The experience that [Maddox] has got in the last two or three years... he's so much more relaxed back there," Amato said following Wednesday's practice. "He makes all the checks and is so comfortable with what he's doing and what we're doing. I think that's as big as anything and just helps his confidence... not that he ever lacked it."
Last year Maddox led the Wolfpack with 145 tackles while also racking up 10 tackles for loss. This season, he believes that a more mature defensive front and the addition of Marcus Hudson to the secondary will only improve the overall unit.
"We're looking pretty good right now," Maddox said. "Getting Marcus [Hudson] back is going to be big for us. Troy Graham is even better and everybody's really stepped up. With the addition of the defensive line maturing, I think we're going to be real good this season."
Maddox spoke highly of Marcus Hudson, a free safety/cornerback who was academically ineligible to play last fall. He is happy to have Hudson back and believes his versatility will give NC State some intriguing options.
"He's a great cover man and he's going to be an excellent nickel back in a lot of our coverages," Maddox said. "He's one of the best covers on our team, and I don't think he's going to miss a beat when the season starts."
Another player poised to have a big season is senior free safety Troy Graham. Graham is back for his fifth season and enters '04 as the starter at free safety.
"Troy has definitely stepped up," Maddox said. "This is his fifth year, and he's made the transition from wide receiver to safety. That's my roomate and we do a lot of things together. He's really stepped up and matured into a great player."
One of the best stories surrounding the NC State program has been the pipeline the Wolfpack has developed with Miami (Fl.) Killian High School. There are five former Killian standouts on the Wolfpack roster: Maddox, Pat Thomas, Miguel Scott, Stephen Tulloch, and Bobby Washington, and Maddox believes that having his former high school teammates around gives a comforting feeling for them all.
"It just makes us all more comfortable," he said. "Bobby's from the same neighborhood as me, and we basically grew up together. I met the other guys once I got to high school. It's real nice because we can sit back and talk about things that happened back in the days. It's a great situation for us."
The latest Killian star to arrive on campus was true freshman running back Bobby Washington. Washington has impressed several Wolfpack veterans early with his play and should add another weapon to NC State's oustanding offense.
"I think Bobby's that speedy back, and he has an extra gear," Maddox said. "He's probably around 210 [pounds] but he may be the fastest running back on the team... maybe one of the fastest players on the team. I know him personally so I know everything he can do, and he's going to help us out."
Look for Andre Maddox to once again be a leader of the Wolfpack and one of the nation's top safeties.
#36 Andre Maddox