Coaches Corner Recap With Curt Cignetti

WR Geron James

Today's "Coaches Corner" at Hi-Five featured recruiting coordinator Curt Cignetti. Here's a sampler of what he had to say.

Thoughts on recruiting with less coaches:
Fortunately the NCAA puts limitations on the number of coaches allowed on the road at the same time. Basically we were on a constant rotation.

Thoughts on Toney Baker:
Toney Baker was the #1 recruit in the state. We've been very fortunate to land the #1 recruit in the state the past three years. The thing that impresses me the most about him is he hasn't missed a workout since the 7th grade. There's a guy who just loves ball. I think he's going to bring a lot of intangibles to our football team.

Thoughts on Andre Brown:
Andre Brown is a big running back, 6'1 240-pounds, and can really hit that hole. He's got speed, strength... he's got it all. We're excited to get him back so that position is looking real strong for us.

Linebacker situation:
We signed two linebackers. Ray Michel out of Fort Myers and Avery Vogt out of Miami. I think both of those guys are similar to what we look for at NC State at linebacker, with the prerequisite being speed and aggressiveness. I think both of them will come in and play a lot of football for us.

Scholarship situation and Mike Greco:
In terms of the scholarship situation we do have a scholarship available if a great player wanted to show up.

Mike Greco came to our camp and impressed a lot of the coaches with his athletic ability and threw the ball well. Really his team was not a real talented team so he was under pressure a lot throughout his high school career. He's big and tall and runs extremely fast. He's a smart guy, and I think he'll play a lot of football for us at NC State.

What offensive linemen will contribute early?
A lot of times linemen take longer to develop than skill players because of the difference in strength.

All these guys will be given the opportunity to show what they can do and their playing time will be based on their performance. We'll give them all the opportunity to show what they can do.

Thoughts on individual offensive lineman signees:
Andy Barbee, a center from Crest. He played very well in the Shrine Bowl, and he's really a tough guy. I think he'll play a lot... whether it's next year or not.

Curtis Crouch is a huge offensive lineman from Fayetteville. He's got great potential, and I think you could see him one day playing on Sundays. His size is comparable to Derek Morris and our big thing with him is getting him in shape early. We'll teach him the offense and how quickly he progresses will determine how much he plays.

Brandon Jefferies was one of the highest recruits in the state two years ago but went to Tennessee and has now transferred back. Certainly we'd like for him to come in and play early because he's been at the college level.

The same for Garrett Kline who is a 6'7 315-pound offensive lineman from Lackawanna Junior College. When you take a junior college player you hope for an instant contribution or at least a solid backup.

Jeraill McCuller came to our camp from Chesapeake, Virginia. He showed good athleticism and good knee bend. We like his future.

Doug Palmer was a late find for us. He's 6'3 and 290-pounds out of Fayetteville, North Carolina. He played in the Shrine Bowl and did a real nice job. He showed good athleticism, and we're excited about him.

Julian Williams will have knee surgery so his status for the fall may be up in the air right now.

Recruiting classes:
We're at the point where we've had five recruiting clases and now it's harder for these younger guys to contribute right away.

Obviously the glaring weakness last season because of injuries was the offensive line and it's possible the remedy might come from within the program instead of the new faces.

Hopefully one or two of these guys can contribute or we could also move a defensive lineman or two over to offense, like we've done in the past with guys like Sean Locklear and Shane Riggs.

Thoughts on position changes:
I don't know what's been announced officially, so I don't want to beat Chuck to the punch. There probably will be some defensive linemen looked at offensively and there could be a receiver or two looked at defensively. Really that's all I can say.

Thoughts on Mark Trestman:
Mark's got a great resume, and he's had a great coaching career. He coached in the Super Bowl three years ago. He coached the Oakland Raiders when they broke NFL records.

He's got a wealth of experience, and he'll only add to the staff.

Thoughts on current quarterbacks:
[Daniel Evans] is smart, and he's accurate. He's just got to continue to grow. I think he grew a lot last season, and I think he'll continue to grow. It's kind of up to him as to how he will perform.

I'd be shocked if Jay Davis doesn't have a great year this year. Fifth-year seniors always play their best football. I really thought Jay was hitting his stride until we had the injuries. That hurt our running game, that hurt our protection, it forced us to throw the ball more and put a lot of pressure on him. I think Jay will look back on all the positive things he did and come out with a lot more confidence early on then he did last season.

Marcus [Stone], with another year under his belt ought to be better too.

Thoughts on Kyle Newell and the recruiting battle for him:
It's a shame that Greg Williams isn't here because he could give more insight. I know in the end it came down to us and Virginia, and Virginia had advantages because of their proximity.

Kyle's an outstanding athlete and we promised him we'd start him out at wide receiver but he's going to grow and get real big and there's a lot of places where he can play. He had a lot of real good offers and to be able to go up there and get a player of his caliber speaks a lot about the respect of our program across the country.

Are Kennie Covington and Chip Cross still possibilities for next year?
Covington, no... Cross, it's possible.

Thoughts on Geron James:
He was in our camp, and I really like him a lot. He's very athletic at 6'4 or 6'5.

Prognosis on John Dunlap:
Dunlap is suppose to be full speed by the fall. I like him a lot too. I think he's got a tremendous future.

Thoughts on Trestman's offense:
We're basically bringing in a new offense. The first step is to teach it to the coaches and then the players. That's what we're going through right now.

The offenses are really very similar. We've had a very successful passing offense and a lot of the concepts are the same... we'll just call them something different.

How accurate are ranking services both for the individual athletes and for the schools:
I'm not sure how to measure it but my answer is they would be semi-accurate. In general, if you group all the four-stars together they are probably better than if you group all the two-stars. But, there are some two-stars that become five-stars and five-stars that become two-stars.

With the teams, if you take the programs ranked in the top 10 and compare them to the teams in the 50's and 60's, they will probably do better over a five-year period.

However, recruiting is just one part. Once you get them on campus you have another job to do.

Thoughts on overall talent in the class:
They are marquee guys. Toney Baker, Andre Brown, Curtis Crouch, Geron James, J.C. Neal... those guys can go anywhere and play.

Thoughts on the departure of Bob LaCivita:
Bob LaCivita, I'm sorry to see him go. He's a personal friend, and I thought he did an outstanding job. But, you know what? That's the nature of the business. Guys come and guys go. Every good program across the country sustains losses.

But, I thought Bob did an outstanding job.

How is the morale affected by last season's struggles?
In athletics you have to be resilient. You have to bounce back from failure. You also have to handle success too. How do you handle success after the Gator Bowl? How do you handle success after going 5-6?

I look at it this way. Put it into perspective. You lost three offensive linemen and that really hurt your offense. You really got a couple officiating deals that you normally don't see.

Can we improve? Absolutely. Do we have the players to get it done? Absolutely. Sometimes things just don't go your way.

We're anxious to get started next year, and sometimes failure can be a motivating factor. I think we have a lot of great competitors in our program.

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