NC State has enjoyed a sizzling start to the 2007 recruiting year and raised eyebrows both locally and nationally. With every coaching staff, recruiting is always a team effort but no individual has been hotter- particularly in the state of North Carolina- than NC State tight end's coach Jim Bridge.
Just 37 years old, Bridge is young by coaching standards but that youth has served him well on the recruiting circuit. Whereas just ten years ago, recruiting continued to consist mainly of phone calls and hand written letters, today's recruiting landscape is much different. Instant messenger, text messaging, email and popular websites like Facebook and MySpace have become daily rituals for most teenagers. The coaches that have dialed into these latest trends have prospered and that could be one of the factors behind the success of coach Bridge.
Regardless of the methods, Bridge has been huge in helping establish the Pack as one of the nation's hottest recruiting teams of late. Leaning on experience and recruiting ties from his days at the Citadel, Bridge has been assigned areas in South Carolina and Georgia as well as the Fayetteville and Charlotte regions of North Carolina. However, it's in the Tar Heel state where he's made the most noise so far this year.
State has languished in the Charlotte area for years but Bridge has turned that around in just a few short months. He landed three-star tight end Mario Carter from Independence High School earlier this year. That commitment was a big one for NC State- not only because the Pack needed to add depth at tight end- but also because it gave the Wolfpack a solid foot in the door with one of the nation's top high school programs.
Other major Charlotte-area prospects that Bridge has made State a solid contender for include 4-star OL RJ Mattes from Concord and 3-star OL Andrew Wallace from Olympic.
Bridge's work with Mattes has been particularly impressive. NC State started the recruiting year just outside the rising senior's top five list. Methodically they moved in to his top five, then top four and now appear to be neck and neck with Clemson and Virginia. Mattes said Bridge's down-to-earth style was impressive.
"I can relate to him," Mattes told Pack Pride. "He'll come up and give me a high five. He'll say, ‘what's up RJ' and ask ‘how's the ladies?' He's just a fun guy to talk to."
Bridge has also been extremely busy at Butler High School in Charlotte. He had State near the top of QB Jacob Charest's leader board before the Pack received a verbal commitment from Mike Glennon. Now, he's focused on the DB tandem of Eddie Whitley and Spencer Adams.
Whitley appears to have narrowed his list to NC State and Virginia Tech with all indications pointing towards the Pack holding the upper hand. State is a major player for Adams as well although several other schools are putting on the full court press. Should Bridge snag Whitley in the near future, that could give him an "in" to help further his chances with Adams.
Bridge's persistence to hit all the high schools in his recruiting region paid off when he scouted ATH Earl Wolff from Hoke County earlier this year. Although virtually no other schools showed interest in Wolff, Bridge convinced him to camp at State and the rest, as they say, is history. Wolff came to camp and promptly wowed everyone in attendance with his athleticism. He left with a Wolfpack offer and State came away with another in-state commitment.
Two of the biggest prospects left on Bridge's board are 4-star LB Terrell Manning from Scotland County and 4-star TE Dwayne Allen from Terry Sanford.
Manning has stated repeatedly that the Pack has recruited him the hardest and it would appear an announcement could come at any time on his future college. The relationship forged between Manning and Bridge early on would appear to be a solid factor in the Pack's favor.
"The first time I met him, he seemed like a real cool person," said Manning. "He seemed like a nice person to get along with. He's the type of person that he's an easy-going man so, he's my kind of guy, I guess."
Allen appeared to be a solid NC State lean but when Chuck Amato was fired, it wasn't long before he made a commitment to Georgia. Upon being hired at NC State, Bridge immediately went to work on Allen and that has resulted in numerous trips to Raleigh by the Fayetteville native. Although he has yet to officially decommit from Georgia, Allen is clearly considering NC State. Should Bridge ultimately land Manning and Allen, it would give the Wolfpack one of their best in-state hauls in recent memory.
Quick look at a few of the prospects being recruited by Jim Bridge
TE Mario Carter
ATH Earl Wolff
RB Rod Chisholm
OL Andrew Wallace
OL RJ Mattes
DB Eddie Whitley
S Spencer Adams
LB Terrell Manning
TE Dwayne Allen
RB/DB Vince Jordan
CB Brandon Robinson
LB Jared Seate
OL Harrison Martin