Tom Lemming is a national recruiting analyst and one of the key figures in selecting players to the annual US Army all-american bowl. He has closely followed the recruiting of Tom O'Brien and his staff over the years and Pack Pride talked with him recently about what Wolfpack fans can expect on the recruiting trail over the coming years.
Pack Pride: Tom, talk a little bit about the job coach O'Brien and his staff did while at Boston College.
Tom Lemming: "I've always thought Boston College, Purdue, Auburn and Iowa had the best evaluating staffs in the country. They would rarely beat Notre Dame, Michigan or Penn State head to head (for recruits) but they'd always beat them on the field. They have great coaches that know how to evaluate early and that's the key to their success.
"Coming to NC State, it's a bigger name and the academic standards won't be as tough as Boston College- like a private school is tough, but they always beat the big schools it seemed like. And now I think they'll be able to recruit just about anybody. So I think it's going to really, really mean well for them.
"I know Butch Davis is good. He's got John Blake and Tommy Thigpen, so they'll be getting all the headlines while NC State will be getting all the players that fit into their program and are going to help them win. It's a tough conference and I think they're going to be more than prepared. But you're going to have to give them two, three four years to get their guys in there."
PP: Has the ability to identify "sleepers" been a big part of coach O'Brien's success?
TL: "He had to bring in (sleeper-type players) at Boston College because they're up in the northeast where there isn't much talent. You can find maybe two or three kids in Connecticut, two or three in Massachusetts but they almost always had to recruit catholic cities like Cincinnati, Chicago, Detroit and Philadelphia.
"But now they can just recruit the nation- particularly the Atlantic coast- Florida to Massachusetts. They have ties everywhere. They're going to be even more effective, but still, they'll go after players that fit into their system more."
PP: Is Jerry Petercuskie the recruiting ace of the staff?
TL: "Jerry Petercuskie is a great recruiter, but they've got a lot of aces. They've got a lot of guys that are really talented recruiters- guys that can get out there and surprise a lot of people.
"They don't have a John Blake, because Blake's the best in the country, but I think they do have a staff that is probably as good or better than UNC's overall staff. They just won't make the headlines but they'll get the right players that they'll develop into NFL players in four years."
PP: How does the talent pool look for North Carolina this year?
TL: "It looks good but not as good as last year. Last year there were great players and this year looks like it is slightly above average but not a knockout year so I would imagine they're going to be recruiting- I know they're down in Florida and up in the east- New Jersey and everywhere else. I think if they get their share of guys out of North Carolina, they'll compliment that well with out-of-state kids because they are really good out-of-state coaches.
"I think now they have to develop the ties to in-state coaches- which will happen over the next couple of years."