Recruiting a Team

RALEIGH, N.C. -- As he always does, NC State head coach Tom O'Brien credited his staff, particularly recruiting coordinator Jerry Petercuskie, for the 2010 class inked on Signing Day.

He then instantly began talking about how the Wolfpack wanted to sign a football team.

"Once again we're really happy with the effort of our staff," said O'Brien. "The assistant coaches did another fabulous job led by Jerry Petercuskie, the recruiting coordinator.

"We addressed a lot of things we had to address in this class. We signed 11 on offense and 11 on defense so once again we signed a football team. We signed a kicker to hopefully resolve some of the problems we had kicking off."

Coach Petercuskie referenced three areas in particular that NC State needed to address in recruiting.

"Everybody talks about fulfilling their needs," said Petercuskie. "I think we went out there and wanted to make sure we were solid in the secondary, solid up front on defense, and again solid on the offensive line. I think those three areas we hit pretty well, and our guys did a great job.

"I think we wanted to really help ourselves in the secondary. Even though we're relatively young in the secondary, we still had some holes to fill there. We wanted to bolster up the defensive line because we were graduating a number of players there, and again solidify the offensive line."

At the end of the day, it's vital for a coaching staff to bring in players who fit what they are looking for. You must be able to identify recruits who fit the culture of your locker room and have the traits needed to succeed in your respective system."

"We wanted to also continue to inject speed and character into the football team," added Petercuskie. "Those are the things we really look for. High-motor, self-starting guys who can run and are athletic. I think we did it with this class."

After Signing Day the first question Wolfpack fans generally have is: "Which of our new players can contribute right away?"

NC State had four signees enroll in January and expected to participate in spring practice. They should have a chance to contribute, but it doesn't necessarily mean they will be ready to do so. Nathan Mageo, Sam Jones, Donald Coleman, and James Washington enrolled last January and also participated in spring practice but Jones and Coleman still redshirted in 2009.

This year's foursome and the rest of the class are hoping they see the field in the fall, but there is really no way to tell who will definitely contribute right away.

"We talk about that too as a coaching staff, but you really don't know who will be ready to play," said Petercuskie. "Mainly it's because of the numbers at certain positions. Over the years, we've had kids as freshmen come in that we never thought would play, but because of injuries he would be forced into the role.

"Also, certain guys are ready mentally. They may not be the best physical football players, but as a freshman coming in he adapts himself to the scheme and what he needs to know to get himself on the field. Then you have a kid who may be better athletically but hasn't adapted to the system so he sits and the other kid plays. So as of now you really don't know who is going to come in and play right away."

One way to judge how well a program did in recruiting by taking a look at how many players they signed out of the recruits they hosted for official visits. College programs are allotted 56 official visitors per year and each player is allowed to visit five programs officially.

NC State reportedly hosted just 25 official visitors and signed 21 of those prospects. Two signees, Tyson Chandler and Bryan Underwood, didn't take official visits after doing so last year. Most programs end up hosting roughly 40-50 kids a year for official visits, but NC State was able to only bring on campus players they believed they had a great shot at signing on Signing Day.

"We want to make sure that there is a genuine interest," said Petercuskie. "There's not a set number of visitors we want to host each year. If it's 50 or 30 so be it, but there has to be a genuine interest in our program.

"It's like I've said before. The numbers you bring in for visits isn't by design. We only want to host recruits we feel fit our program and could see themselves playing at NC State. Kids that we are interested in and have a genuine interest in coming to our school we will have for official visits because we believe that they could pull the trigger for State when the time comes."

A big reason NC State was able to host so few visitors but land a high percentage was because the majority of their class was filled by January, and they simply needed to bring in committed recruits for their official visits. The Wolfpack had 21 commitments prior to January and landed two recruits, Artemus Norman and Mustafa Greene, in the final month.

With essentially four weekends to host prospects in January, teams normally bring in uncommitted prospects in hopes of landing their signature. A lot of programs do the majority of their recruiting in December and January. While teams were finalizing their 2010 class, NC State's coaching staff continued to recruit their committed prospects but also really focus on the upcoming 2011 class.

"We were definitely out there in January doing a lot of junior recruiting," said Petercuskie. "We still had to stay on a number of kids who hadn't committed to us yet, but recruiting has escalated.

"As you know, with the escalation of the recruiting... the earlier the better, but I think you also have to be a little careful. They are still young kids. You're looking at them now and they are very young, but no question landing the majority of our class before January helped us already start touching base with head coaches regarding their top rising seniors."

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