Sands draws on personal exploits

Pack coach was Citadel tailback

Staff WriterFebruary 17, 2011 

— His last day in Charleston, new N.C. State running backs coach Everette Sands donned a light-blue Citadel shirt.

"I thought, 'Yeah, I better wear this now, because I can't wear this when I get up to North Carolina,' " he said, laughing.

Decked out in a new Wolfpack-red polo on Wednesday, Sands - who played running back for The Citadel, and spent the past six years there coaching the tailbacks - explained that he is already aware of the huge State-UNC rivalry (and thus, his need to put away all of his blue duds). And he's excited about the chance to help the Pack take the next step.

"I know North Carolina State has done a great job over the last couple of years - Coach [Tom] O'Brien has done a wonderful job," Sands said. "They are positioning themselves to win an ACC championship. And it's been one of my goals to win a BCS conference championship, and go on for that BCS title."

Sands replaces Jason Swepson, who coached for O'Brien since 1999 at Boston College and N.C. State, but recently took the head coaching job at Elon. Sands, who also has coached at Ohio University and Elon, will be responsible for recruiting the Durham area, about half of South Carolina, a good portion of Georgia, and then the Jacksonville area, he said. He met his new tailbacks on Tuesday.

When Sands, a father of three, learned of the job opening, he texted Jim Bridge, who has coached tight ends under O'Brien since 2003 and now coaches the offensive line. During the interview process, he stressed his belief that running backs should, first and foremost, protect the ball.

"And another big thing is to make sure they are a complete back," he said. "We know they can run the ball; that's why we recruited them. But also, they've got to be able to block in pass protection, and they've got to be able to catch the ball out of the backfield, as well."

In 1992, Sands helped lead The Citadel to a Southern Conference championship, rushing for 1,449 yards and 12 touchdowns as the Bulldogs posted an 11-2 overall record. He said he knew in college that he wanted to be a coach, and his experience as a former tailback helps him teach the position.

"It is a different mentality at times, especially when it's fourth-and-1 and it doesn't look good, but you've got to find a way to get it done," he said. "And I think being in that position, the guys that I'm coaching know that 'Hey, Coach has been there before, he has been in that situation, so I can have a little faith in him.'"

robbi.pickeral@newsobserver.com or 919-829-8944.

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