Coming off a winless season in the ACC during his first season at the helm, North Carolina State head coach Dave Doeren preached process over results. NC State had hoped when it hired Doeren that he’d give the program an immediate boost on the recruiting trail, and he did, hauling in a top 35 class in 2014 according to the 247Sports Composite Rankings after State finished outside the Top 50 in each of the two previous years.
However, with the Wolfpack having fired Tom O’Brien after three consecutive bowl bids, the results still had to come sooner rather than later.
Doeren had won 23 games in two seasons as the head coach at Northern Illinois University and helped the program become one of the preeminent mid-major football powers in the country, but he’d also been a defensive playcaller and a recruiting coordinator at assistant coaching stops at Power Five schools like Wisconsin and Kansas, states with smaller caches of high school talent to pull from. North Carolina had to have seemed like a veritable hot bar in comparison.
By 2014, North Carolina State was more competitive. It cruised through its non-conference schedule to a 4-0 start and then gave the defending national champion Florida State Seminoles a scare on national TV. Ultimately, they’d make great strides, winning the bowl matchup against UCF to finish with eight wins on the season.
Now, Doeren seems primed to take NC State to new heights in 2015.
The Wolfpack return 14 starters next season, including nine on offense and they are set to pull in a Top 30 recruiting class that fills a slew of needs while adding needed depth and a handful of immediately impactful players.
Needing to replace a ton of production on the defensive line, Doeren has currently secured commitments from five defensive linemen rated as three-star prospects or better. That group is headlined by Darian Roseboro.
A jumbo-sized defensive end who’ll likely grow into a defensive tackle’s position, Roseboro was rated as a high four-star recruit. He had offers from the likes of Alabama and Auburn, but ultimately elected to stay home and enroll early at North Carolina State. He was one of six commitments who were already on campus in Raleigh when faxes started rolling in this morning.
On offense, NC State went out and got a handful of running backs to add depth and compliment rising senior Shadrach Thompson. Johnny Frasier and Nyheim Hines are also North Carolina products who give the Wolfpack both a bruising runner and a speedster who is dangerous in space to continue to give the offense balance with Jacoby Brissett returning at quarterback.
They also added another four-star in-state offensive lineman in Emanuel McGirt. After losing both Rob Crisp and Tyson Chandler–starters at left and right tackle, respectively–McGirt could see immediate playing time in 2015.
Of course, the noticeable trend with North Carolina State’s solid overall recruiting class is that they’ve gotten a ton of talent from within the State of North Carolina. Despite being known as a basketball state, the state produces more than its fair share of football talent as well.
With NC State, North Carolina and Wake Forest all having made hires in the past three seasons leaving Duke’s David Cutcliffe as the longest tenured FBS coach in the Tar Heel State, it’s been difficult to keep that talent within state borders. However, in the Class of 2015, Dave Doeren and NC State managed to secure commitments from four of the seven best prospects in North Carolina.
If Doeren can continue with that level of success at home, NC State won’t just compete for bragging rights in the state of North Carolina. The Wolfpack will compete for Atlantic Division titles and ACC crowns as a whole.
If 7-6 gets Tom O’Brien fired, it’s reasonable to assume that 8-5 isn’t enough to keep Dave Doeren safe in Raleigh, either. However, if Dave Doeren can build upon one of the best recruiting classes we’ve seen at NC State in the past decade, there will be a helluva lot more wins to follow. A helluva lot more howling, too.
Get full National Signing Day coverage on Today’s U here.