Honesty and Integrity Are Vital to Recruiting

NC State head coach Tom O'Brien had to make a coaching hire for the first time since arriving in Raleigh when linebackers coach Andy McCollum left to accept a coaching position at Georgia Tech.

McCollum's decision to become Tech's defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator left the Wolfpack with an opening, and as you would expect O'Brien was prepared to fill it.

Georgia Tech announced McCollum's hiring on February 9th, and just two days later NC State issued a press release stating that Jon Tenuta, one of the top defensive minds in college football, had accepted the vacant linebackers coach position.

"We lost a heckuva football coach and a great person in Andy McCollum," O'Brien said at the time. "He will be missed by our staff and our players and we wish him the best. But we have been very fortunate to be able to hire someone with the experience and wealth of knowledge that Jon Tenuta brings to our staff."

Landing Tenuta, a college coach for 29 years with 16 being as a defensive coordinator, was huge for NC State. His ability to formulate gameplans, identify the opposition's weaknesses, and implement aggressive blitz schemes should help improve the Wolfpack's defensive unit.

However, Pack fans know that they lost more than a good coach when McCollum left... he is also regarded as a strong recruiter who used his ties in the state of Georgia to land several prospects while at State. Although Tenuta may not have the same reputation as a recruiter, look for him to take McCollum's recruiting areas in Georgia and western North Carolina.

"We're going to have Jon take the recruiting territories that Andy had," said NC State recruiting coordinator Jerry Petercuskie. "We think he's going to fit in nicely and do a very good job for us as a recruiter."

Jon Tenuta

Tenuta spent six seasons at Georgia Tech before heading to Notre Dame, so he is familiar with recruiting Georgia. Look for the Peach state to remain an area NC State will continue to target on the recruiting trail.

"It is by design that we recruit the state of Georgia so hard," said Petercuskie. "That's the next most populus area that we're going to hit. Obviously we're going to recruit North Carolina first, but the plan hasn't changed that Tom has put into effect.

"We're going to hit North Carolina, expand out, get a 'X' amount of kids in South Carolina, and we're going to recruit Georgia hard. Obviously the Atlanta area, we have three coaches in there recruiting, and that's by design as well. That is a populated area with a lot of talented athletes. We won't just stop there in Georgia... we'll keep moving south into Florida too."

One of those coaches recruiting in Atlanta is defensive backs coach Mike Reed, and Reed is starting to develop into a strong recruiter for the Wolfpack. Reed found himself in the midst of the Pack's biggest recruiting battle when he was able to sway Greensboro (NC) Dudley standout David Amerson away from Notre Dame, North Carolina, Clemson, and Virginia Tech among others. He was also the lead man in landing Pennington (NJ) safety Dontae Johnson and again, proved to be the difference in a heated battle with Maryland and Stanford.

Reed secured an early verbal from College Park (GA) Clayton Park offensive lineman Torian Box, and he finished off his effort by inking Stone Mountain (GA) Chamblee sleeper DE Art Norman.

Reed has a tremendous personality, and he connects well with his recruits. His enthusiasm for the job is obvious and the players pick up on that excitement.

"I think Mike did a great job for us," said Petercuskie. "He has a great way about himself. He's very honest and straightforward. Really, the sincerity he has with the family and athletes serves him well."

Those traits are a common theme among the Wolfpack's coaching staff, a tight-knit group that, for the most part, has worked together for several years. When asked to elaborate on the strengths of his recruiting staff, coach Petercuskie didn't hesitate.

"I think without a doubt it is the honesty, integrity, and work ethic of our guys," he said. "The longer you do something, and the longer relationship you have with these high school coaches throughout North Carolina and into our other areas... those coaches develop a trust in you.

"You can fool some of the people some of the time, but for us it's just the coaches knowing we're going to deal honestly with them, we're going to recruit with integrity, and we're going to work hard at it. We're not going to take any shortcuts, and you can trust that we're going to recruit the right way. That's the strength of the staff as a whole."

Because the staff has remained intact they are able to effectively recruit together and all of the coaches factor into the process of offering a particular recruit.

Mike Reed

"Here's how we try to do it when it comes to extending an offer," said coach Petercuskie. "We have an approach where everyone involved factors into the decision of offering a recruit. We make a decision based on everyone's thoughts.

"For instance, the area coach has some knowledge, he's there in the area so he will have a good feel for the height, weight, and speed... something the position coach might not know if he hasn't seen him yet. With offers going out early, we all may not have seen the prospect in-person so we rely on the area coach to be accurate with his height and weight and so forth."

"But at the end of the day, it's a consensus decision on extending an offer to a recruit," he added. "It is a decision that is made with input from the recruiting coach, position coach, myself, and obviously coach O'Brien."

After an offer has been extended it is up to the coaching staff to land a commitment from that recruit. Some prospects are looking to commit as soon as they land the offer from the school of their choice. Others want to wait until National Signing Day to make a decision. Sometimes a highly-regarded standout may know where he wants to go but is waiting until his first game, or birthday, or an all-star game to inform the public.

And then there are times when a coaching staff has to let it be known that scholarships are tight and a player must let them know if they want to join the program or not. In virtually all recruitments, coaches must know how to handle the situation for each individual recruit.

"Every situation is a little different," said Petercuskie. "If you have one kid, you may say you have two days to make a decision because we have another guy who would like to come. We'd like to get you, but at this point in time we can't hold off the other family because they are ready to make a decision.

"There are other times where we're going to wait for a guy. In that situation, we will tell him to take his time... we're here for you. Each individual situation dictates it's on set of rules.

"Again, it comes back to being honest and recruiting with integrity because you're dealing with coaches, families, and young men."

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