Following his introduction as head coach on December 6, O'Brien has worked at a non-stop pace. After getting his staff in place, he spent a whirlwind three weeks on the road recruiting prior to signing day. He's met individually with his players, had countless sessions with his staff, spoken at various Wolfpack Club engagements, and flown back and forth to Boston as he and his wife Jenny have gone through the process of putting their home on the market and searching for a new place to live in Raleigh.
Now, O'Brien is happy to finally get back on the football field and begin coaching his new team. "We've gotten to know the players in our off-season conditioning program," he said, "but that's nothing like being able to actually see them in football drills. We've done tests that measure their agility and movement, but the biggest test will be seeing how they react once the ball is snapped. I think all of our coaches are looking forward to getting out there and continuing the process of building a championship team."
The Wolfpack staff is entering spring practice with a clean slate mentality - the playing field is equal and each player will have a chance to earn playing time. "We coached against many of these players, so we know there are some very talented individuals on this team," O'Brien continued. "But we're not making any judgements based on what took place last year. Every position is wide open right now and every player will have the opportunity to win a job. That should make it a very exciting spring for us."
O'Brien added that the main goal of spring practice is to make sure that each player is in the position that will best suit his talent and will best benefit the team. "We want to make sure we have all of our personnel in the right slots," he said. "We want the players to feel good about the schemes we're implementing and the coaches want to feel good about the players we are putting in those schemes."
So far, O'Brien said, he hasn't been disappointed by anything he's seen since coming to NC State.
"This is a tremendous opportunity for me and my staff and we are already enjoying it. There is a unbelieveable amount of passion here and we have the greatest football fans in the state of North Carolina. It's great to be a part of that."