Doeren’s staff at N.C. State has youth, championships

jgiglio@newsobserver.comDecember 24, 2012 

— Dave Doeren hired assistant coaches with ties to him and ties to N.C. State.

The Wolfpack’s new football coach added experienced assistants and stocked his staff with young, hungry assistants.

Doeren said there’s one common thread among the nine assistants on his staff, which he finalized on Monday.

“I want to be around guys who know how to be champions,” Doeren said. “There’s a good blend of different personalities and different backgrounds, but the common theme is these guys understand how to build a winner.”

Former N.C. State linebacker Clayton White was named the safeties coach on Monday, which completed Doeren’s first staff.

Doeren was hired Dec. 1 from Northern Illinois to replace Tom O’Brien. Six of Doeren’s assistants worked with him in one of his two seasons at NIU.

The Huskies, 12-1 this season, won back-to-back Mid-American Conference titles under Doeren and the four assistants he brought from NIU. One of those assistants, cornerback coach Richard McNutt also played on Ohio State’s 2003 national title team.

Offensive coordinator Matt Canada and special teams coordinator Eddie Faulkner, who both worked for Doeren at NIU in 2011, helped Wisconsin win the Big Ten title this year, and defensive coordinator Dave Huxtable worked on Wisconsin’s Big Ten title staff last year and on conference championship teams at Central Florida.

Doeren’s staff will be considerably younger than O’Brien’s. At 41, Doeren is the youngest head coach in the ACC, and 23 years O’Brien’s junior. Doeren hired six assistants who are 36 or younger and retained Des Kitchings, 34, from O’Brien’s staff.

The average age of Doeren’s nine assistants is 37.1, compared to 48.6 for O’Brien’s staff.

“We have some experienced guys, but I think it helps to have some younger coaches who have enthusiasm and can relate to the players,” Doeren said.

Huxtable, who is 56, is the oldest assistant on Doeren’s staff, and McNutt, 31, is the youngest.

Doeren called Huxtable, who spent the 2012 season at Pittsburgh and has been a defensive coordinator at North Carolina and Georgia Tech, a “home run hire.”

“That was huge,” Doeren said. “The fact that he’d be in the ACC and has recruited in Atlanta and Orlando really helps.”

Canada will run the offense for Doeren, which he did at NIU in 2011 before taking the same position at Wisconsin. With Bret Bielema leaving Wisconsin for Arkansas, Doeren did not know if he could get Canada to Raleigh, but he was thrilled it worked out, especially with the relationship between Canada and offensive line coach Mike Uremovich.

“That was a big deal for me,” Doeren said. “Those guys have a great connection, which is important for any offense.”

Doeren kept Kitchings as a connection to O’Brien’s staff and added White as a connection to the Wolfpack’s past.

White, who’s from Dunn, played linebacker for the Wolfpack from 1997 to 2000 and played in the NFL for two seasons before starting his coaching career. He spent the past two seasons at Connecticut and has also been an assistant at Western Kentucky, Stanford, Western Michigan and Western Carolina.

Doeren said it was important to have at least one assistant who played for N.C. State.

“All of us want to win, but when you’re a graduate, it’s personal,” Doeren said. “Clayton knows the tradition and understands the values of the university.”

White also has an ingrained knowledge of the high schools in the area, Doeren said, which will help a staff that has mostly Midwest recruiting connections.

“He doesn’t just know people,” Doeren said. “He knows the coaches and principals and the janitors and the guys in the barbershops. That’s huge.”

With his staff complete, Doeren’s next step is to take in two bowl games. He will attend State’s Music City Bowl matchup with Vanderbilt on Dec. 31 and then fly to Miami for NIU’s Orange Bowl date with Florida State on Jan. 1.

Then classes start at N.C. State on Jan. 7 and signing day is Feb. 6. It will be a busy few weeks for Doeren and his assistants on the recruiting trail.

“There are kids out there that will change their mind; we know that,” Doeren said. “There are kids that are wide open that we’re fighting for, so we’ll see where it ends up.”

Giglio: 919-829-8938

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