Typically, a new job in college coaching means a rebuilding effort. Kevin Patrick’s move to Raleigh is much different.
N.C. State’s defensive line was one of the best in the nation in 2016 and moving forward, the future looks brighter. The Wolfpack loses only one of its top-eight in the position group after a 7-6 campaign.
The leader on the field, Bradley Chubb, eschewed the NFL for the time being and decided to return for his senior campaign in 2017. Buttressed by the likes of Darian Roseboro, Kentavius Street, Justin Jones and others, the Wolfpack could potentially have its best defensive line since the Mario Williams-led crew (along with Manny Lawson, John McCargo and Tank Tyler) of the 2005 season.
The Wolfpack did lose a leader, however.
Ryan Nielsen accepted the position of defensive line coach for the New Orleans Saints in February after four seasons at N.C. State in the same capacity.
Enter Patrick, who has spent 12 seasons in coaching.
Patrick comes to N.C. State after coaching Texas Tech’s defensive line in 2016. The talent he has to work with and the coaches he will work for propelled him to make the move.
“I’m an East Coast guy to begin with and that’s where I met Coach Doeren on the recruiting trail,” Patrick said. “I loved my job at Texas Tech but an opportunity to come here and be around such a great head coach and defensive coordinator and to have a D-line like they’ve got here? I’m excited. I don’t think anything could be more perfect for me.”
The expectations at N.C. State in 2017 are high, particularly for the defensive line.
“This group can be the best unit in the country,” Chubb said. “I believe that. I feel like we were one of the best last year, we just didn’t get enough credit. And I feel this year we are definitely coming for the best spot in the making.
N.C. State has its spring game at Carter-Finley Stadium on April 1st. As the Wolfpack prepares, Patrick and the defensive line are starting to feel each other out.
“It’s a learning experience,” Street said. “You don’t want to be close-minded to the coach. You want to learn his techniques too but we’re also savoring a lot of stuff Coach Nielsen taught us. [Patrick] has personality and charisma. He’s keeping most of the drills the same. He makes you want to play for him because you just love being around him.”
Word in the coaching ranks was that N.C. State has a defensive unit that could be among the best in the nation in 2017.
The players also hear things. Patrick’s background as a player, where he was also once a roommate of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and as a coach is no secret.
“He has an impressive history and he is doing some of the same things we did before.” Roseboro said. “It is a matter of learning each other and trusting each other -- earning his trust.”
“I’ve got to do a good job of adjusting to them,” Patrick said. “I think a great coach, we don’t come in and try to be the alpha dog. It’s one person. I’m gonna call things the way they called it here and I’m gonna try to do as much as possible to stay in the framework that they’re accustomed to. These guys been doing the same thing for years. Why come in and try to change anything?”
Football has its complexities, but at the end of the day the objective for a defensive line is simple.
“My grandfather was a college coach and he once told me, “It’s either a run or a pass,”’ Patrick said. “So you just have to stop those two things.”
Rob McLamb has covered NC State Athletics and recruiting for Pack Pride (Scout.com) since 2012. You can follow him on Twitter @RobMcLamb.