At the beginning of the year that was a targeted area as was the offensive line. We felt that we did an outstanding job. I felt that Jim Bridge did a great job of recruiting and Andy McCollum, both of those guys were super in recruiting the linebackers that we got. So, it was a need and we feel that we filled that need.
Do you feel like some of those signees will have a chance to come in and contribute at linebacker, despite being true freshmen?
Our philosophy and coach O'Brien's philosophy has always been the same. The best players are going to play. If they come in and they are the best players then they are going to play. It's pretty simple. We don't try to say that you're going to be the guy. What may happen is you may have injuries at a certain position and you could be playing a guy that you never thought you would play because you have a hole there. It's hard to have a crystal ball, so the bottomline is the best players will play regardless of age or position.
NC State linebackers
coach Andy McCollum
With the graduation of Hauschka and the transfer of Nathan Franklin, did you consider signing a kicker in this class?
No. We weren't going to offer a kicker this year. We just weren't going to do that.
I think that Czajkowski has a ways to go, but he had a great spring last spring. Then you bring in a guy like Steve and he's just lights out. He's a very talented guy. I wouldn't be surprised if he's kicking in the league next year somewhere, or if not next year then maybe in two years. I don't think that was a knock on Josh's talent as much as bringing in a guy that is pretty special.
Josh came out of the spring having a really strong spring. If you look at what he did in the spring game and all the scrimmages, he was pretty good. But, as everything else, just like we were talking about with the linebackers and every other position, the best player is going to play. Whether he comes in as a walk-on late or is a scholarship kid that everybody thinks is going to play... you just never know.
Do you tend to recruit walk-ons as kickers or is it on an as-need basis as far as offering scholarships to kickers?
We'll offer scholarships to kickers but when we got here we inherited 'x' amount of kids that were on scholarship as kickers. With that, we can't afford to give another scholarship to a kicker so we had to look at the walk-on pool and we were pretty blessed last year with Steve.
Some staffs like to bring in true freshmen and get their feet wet on special teams so they will be ready to play the following season, even if they don't play as position players in their first year. What is your general philosophy on that? Would you like to play freshmen to have them ready for the speed of the game or do you prefer redshirting them unless they can contribute on the two-deep?
Tom has always has the philosophy that if he's in the two-deep and going to play from the line of scrimmage then we'll use him there and on special teams. We won't use a guy just on teams play. The only time that would happen is if he's a great return man. You can trace our history and you'll see that a great return kid is back there because he's a difference maker in the return game, even though he may not quite be ready to play on the two-deep.
With the loss of Darrell Blackman did you try and land an elite returner?
No... we just tried to get the best players we could positionally, and then we will find who is gifted in the return game.
When it comes to evaluating and offering scholarships to prospects, talk about the differences in highlight tapes and game film.
First off, it starts knowing that this is an inexact science. That is the No. 1 thing. If you start with the theory that the tape is the end-all then I think you're going in the wrong direction. There are a lot of parts to the puzzle, other than just looking at a tape, but that is a very important piece of the puzzle.
The bigger the guy, the more the game tape, in my mind, is critical. You want to see the high-motor, you want to see the competitiveness, you want to see consecutive plays. Offensive linemen, defensive linemen, tight ends... even the linebackers, those are the guys that you want to make sure that you're watching a game tape of also. You can see the good, the bad, the ugly of a kid, and you can see if he is a self-starter... a high-motor kid.
I think the skill guys, you can see a little bit less [game tape] because you have to look at four or five games to maybe get a dozen shots of a kid, whether it is catching the ball, making a tackle, or defending a pass. So, the highlight tape on a skill guy I think is really good and very helpful.
"The bigger the guy,
the more the game tape,
in my mind, is critical."
How big does level of competition play in regards to offering a prospect? Also, does it impact much position-wise.. meaning do you value competition level moreso for offensive linemen than running backs, etc...?
The competition level is important... knowing that in certain states the competition level may not be the same as in other states. A lot of times I look at it and I'll say, this is a 5.2 league, this is a 4.8 league, this is a 4.6 league... you're looking at the overall speed of play in each of the areas around the country that you look at tape. Obviously if the competition is a little more suspect, that kid has to be a more dominant player. That's the general rule of thumb that you'll look at.
What are your thoughts on the Internet and how it has impacted the recruiting process? Is it a necessary evil?
I think it has improved over the years and I think the information is fresher and more accurate, but it is still not 100%. At times, it is something that can hurt because something is put out there that maybe the kid is saying because he knows it will be out there and he may not be as truthful. Then again, he may not be telling the coaches that are recruiting him from what ever school exactly what is truthful either.
It's kind of a catch-22. We follow that to a degree, ourselves as coaches, and I think most young men around the country follow it. Consequently it's good for football overall because it generates enthusiasm for the sport, it generates enthusiasm for signing day, and it keeps football fresh as the year goes on.
Is it a necessary evil? [Laughing] Absolutely.
Thoughts on the prep prospect in Nevada who's hoax garnered national attention:
It just goes to show you right there... it puts everything in a nutshell and puts everything into perspective. That's a great prank. It didn't hurt anybody, but it just shows you, 'here's what I can do. I can use this Internet to snowball myself into something, and everybody is going to believe me.' Situations like that happen all the time in the recruiting process.
When does an offer become official? Do you consider a verbal offer official?
Any kid that we offer, we offer in writing.
When we look at the tapes and we decide based on the tapes, based on talking with the coaches, we'll send an offer and it will be official.