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NC State’s shifting recruiting profile: Dave Doeren vs. Tom O’Brien

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TOB did not so much build that proverbial fence around North Carolina.

Florida State v North Carolina State Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

When I looked at the geography of Dave Doeren’s recruiting at NC State, I found a heavy reliance on in-state kids—nearly half of the prospects that his staff has signed (48%) are from North Carolina. And his staff has heavily mined both the triangle and the Charlotte area

Tom O’Brien and his staff also relied heavily on North Carolina prospects, but to a significantly lesser degree. In the same span of time (six recruiting cycles), TOB’s staff signed 43 North Carolina prospects, vs. 66 for Doeren.

If we compare the “NC State Backyard” bucket (as defined in the post linked up top), Doeren has signed 19 kids in the triangle against a mere nine for TOB. And while Doeren has established strong connections to the rich talent in Charlotte (13 signees), O’Brien managed a grand total of four signees from Charlotte in six full recruiting cycles.

Both staffs mined most of their players from NC, Georgia, and Florida, but the approaches were starkly different.

Doeren vs. TOB

Signee Distribution Doeren O'Brien
Signee Distribution Doeren O'Brien
NC 48.2 31.6
GA 13.9 21.3
FL 14.6 10.3

Another thing I noticed about TOB’s recruiting is a regular reliance on military schools. That’s probably not a coincidence, given his own military history. He signed four kids from Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia, and three from Hargrave. He signed a pair of kids from Georgia Military College, a couple from the New Mexico Military Institute (in Roswell!), and one from a military school in Pennsylvania.

Generally speaking, TOB was more inclined to rely on junior college institutions like those, which is why his recruiting map looks a bit more random:

I wondered how O’Brien’s history of coaching in the northeast might have impacted his results in Raleigh, and the answer is: not much. He signed one player from Massachusetts and didn’t bring players in any significant numbers from New England. He drew a bit more from New York, Michigan, and Ohio than Doeren has.

Whatever connections he built while at Boston College did not translate to NC State. I’d guess a lot of that has to do with going from a private Catholic institution to a public, nondenominational institution.

And he wasn’t able to develop enough prominent pipelines within North Carolina to establish a consistently healthy recruiting profile—the added reliance on JuCo kids is good evidence of that, since it implies more immediate needs that required filling on a more regular basis, which is not ideal and should not be necessary for a power-conference school in the southeast.

Overall, NC State’s recruiting is clearly in a much better place under Doeren. Not only is NC State signing more players from North Carolina, it is on average signing a high-caliber of player. Fewer P5-caliber talents are escaping from the triangle and Charlotte areas than they had been, and this is considerable progress.