Earlier this summer NC State head coach Chuck Amato promoted Wolfpack strength and conditioning coach Todd Stroud to Assistant Head Coach and defensive line coach. Stroud inherits a defensive line loaded with youth and potential and early feedback from the players is extremely positive. Freshman all-american Mario Williams told Pack Pride recently, "Coach Stroud, he's a great coach. I love playing for him...(He) is like part of your family when you're out and about. He'll have fun with you. But when he's on the field, he's serious. I mean, he loves us still- but it's business. When we're out on the field, we've got to know the plays. We've got to do what we're supposed to do and we've got to go out and play."
Another business that Stroud will tend to is recruiting. He will take over the responsibilities of Wake County- an area that may not yield a significant amount of talent for the class of 2005 but should be a definite region to watch in 2006.
Stroud got off to an impressive start when he landed the Pack's first verbal commitment for the class of 2006 in DE Gavin Smith (6-5, 265 pounds) of Wakefield (NC) High School. Although colleges aren't allowed to officially offer a scholarship until Sept. 1, Smith left no doubt about his intentions to play for coach Stroud and the Pack in two years in an interview with The Raleigh News & Observer.
Another Wake County product that Stroud will most likely be all over is RB Josh Adams from Cary High School. The 5-11, 185 pound back is already closing in on the 1,000 yard rushing mark after just three games. That comes on the heels of a 1,485 yard and nine touchdown campaign as a sophomore, despite playing in only nine games due to injury. Early word has the Pack as a serious contender for Adams.
In addition to covering recruiting in Wake County, Stroud will also oversee the Pack's efforts in the Asheville area.
Coach Stroud originally hails from St. Petersburg, Fl and coached the defensive line for Central Florida for one season. Knowledge of that region will come in handy as Stroud will head up the Pack's recruiting efforts in central Florida as well as the west coast of Florida. This will include locations such as Orlando, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa and Ft. Myers.
Because of his late hiring, Stroud will be playing catch-up on the recruiting trails in Florida but there are several names to keep in mind as the year wears on.
Perhaps headlining the list of hopefuls are OL Matt Hardrick (6-5, 340) from Edgewater High School in Orlando and A.J. Trump (6-4, 290 pounds) of Clearwater (Fla) Central Catholic High School. Trump has connections to NC State through current players QB Jay Davis and LeRue Rumph although he currently favors Florida State, Florida and Notre Dame.
Hardrick is considered by many to be one of the top offensive linemen in the nation and has shown a strong willingness to play his college football outside the state of Florida. Landing an official visit with Hardrick would be a super start for the Pack although the all-american currently favors LSU over Florida State, Oklahoma, Miami and Nebraska.
A sleeper to keep in mind from Hardrick's Edgewater squad is OL Quinton Brown. Brown, at 6-6, 250 pounds, is considered to be a very athletic lineman that was recently rated as the No. 86 player in the state of Florida by The Orlando Sentinel. Don't be surprised if you hear more on Brown as the year progresses.
Tyler Rice is a 6-5, 285 pound offensive lineman from Lakewood Ranch High School in Bradenton, Fla. Rice camped at State earlier this summer and is very high on the Pack. He has earned a scholarship offer from Central Florida and currently favors NC State, UCF, Ole Miss, UNC and Florida.
Perhaps the one player that Wolfpack fans would like to see State enter the fray with more than any other is WR O.J. Murdock (6-0, 185 pounds, 4.4-seconds in the 40) from Middleton High School in Tampa, Fla. Murdock is a speedster with numerous scholarship offers but currently favors the big three in Florida plus Michigan State, LSU and Alabama. Because of NC State's success in landing wide-outs from Florida in the past, the Pack could maneuver it's way into the chase here but it could be difficult to ultimately get him out of the Sunshine State.