The Wolfpacker

May 2017 Issue

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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Page 45 of 87

46 ■ THE WOLFPACKER BY MATT CARTER D efensive line coach Kevin Patrick is a self-proclaimed "East Coast guy." That is just one of the reasons why he was quick to accept the position at NC State after a one-year stint at Texas Tech, which fol- lowed a two-year stop at North Texas. Prior to arriving in the Lone Star State, Patrick's football background stemmed purely from the state of Florida. He grew up in Lake Worth, played college football at Miami and coached at South Florida. His success with the Hurricanes included 23 sacks, and being named the 1993 Big East Defensive Player of the Year and a first-team All-American by both Kodak and the Associated Press. In 2015, the school inducted him into its athletics Hall of Fame. Patrick's time at Miami was also mem- orable for a lasting friendship he made with renowned former WWE wrestling star turned action movie actor Dwayne John- son, perhaps better known by his wrestling nickname "The Rock." The two were roommates and the best of friends, a relationship that even sur- vived a now-infamous brawl in the office of then-Hurricanes defensive line coach Ed Oregeron. Johnson later claimed in an interview with Sports Illustrated that he even tried to rip Patrick's tongue out with his fingers, a fact that Patrick denied. "I would've bitten his fingers off," Pat- rick told SI. What both acknowledged was that they turned Orgeron's office into a mess, including flipping over his desk. The two still talk frequently, with Patrick refer- ring to Johnson by his college nickname "Dewey." After a brief hiatus from the East Coast during his stops in Texas, Patrick is back. It is a fact that hit home for Patrick when he landed and stepped off the airplane. "I flew in, and I'm like, 'There's trees!'" Patrick remembered. "I get on the phone with my daughter and she goes, 'There are trees there, right?'" There are other differences for Patrick between what he left at Texas Tech and what he is inheriting at NC State. For one, he noted, getting to games at NC State should be easier for his extended family, including his mother who lives in the west- ern part of the state of North Carolina, than it was at Lubbock, Texas. For another, he estimated this is the first time since he coached a defensive line at South Florida that featured current NFL star Jason Pierre-Paul that he is not rebuilding. That's because NC State returned all four starters plus all but one of their top reserves from a deep defensive line that many regarded as being one of the best in the ACC a year ago. "I've been rebuilding for a number of years since JPP and the boys left, and every stop I've had to rebuild," Patrick recalled. "Here it's a little bit different. It's, 'All right, boys. Go!'" Patrick was only half-joking. He knows, as he put it, "I've got to coach my tail off." But he does have the advantage of having four seniors on the first-string defensive line and two juniors on the second unit. That talent and experience on NC State's roster was not unnoticed by Patrick or his coaching buddies in the business. "I must have had about a dozen or more phone calls and text messages," Patrick estimated he received after taking the job. He then paraphrased the familiar themes from them: "You've got dogs." "But you know, we want to be better," Patrick added. "They want to be better than what they were last year." Patrick added that he is learning NC State's terminology versus switching things up on the veteran defensive linemen. Ironi- cally, his old coach at Miami, Orgeron, was also Ryan Nielsen's — who coached the defensive line at NCSU before leaving for the New Orleans Saints in February — mentor in college (at USC) as well. NC State head coach Dave Doeren added that both of his new defensive coaches, Patrick and safeties coach Aaron Henry, have the benefit of older players in their meeting rooms to help them pick up the system quickly. "It's fun to watch Aaron and Coach Pat- rick work," Doeren said. "They walk into a room to teach it to guys who probably know it better than them. It takes time." Doeren added that Patrick and Henry have the trait Doeren seeks in his assis- tants: the ability to build relationships. "That is what I'm most proud of," Doeren said. "Both of those coaches have done a great job learning about these guys and talk- ing to them. The X's and O's part of it, these guys are experienced in understanding what they want from their players." There will be one other difference for Patrick from a coaching perspective, ad- justing to defending somewhat more tradi- tional offenses relative to what he faced in the fast-paced, high-scoring Big 12. "We go into that Oklahoma game, and there was lightning strikes back and forth, and Oklahoma's [defense] wasn't much better," he remembered. "I mean, it was just boom, get up, we're going again. Boom, we're going again. Every time you go to sit down on the seat, it's like: 'Our defense!' "I was like, 'What in the world? I didn't even draw anything up yet.'" Odds are he will have a little more time in the ACC to talk things over with his line in between possessions on the sideline of Carter-Finley Stadium, perhaps enough to even take a peak at the pine trees in the southeast corner of the end zone or recall some old war stories with his players about what it was like to be The Rock's teammate. Life is good back on the East Coast for Patrick. ■ A NATURAL FIT New Defensive Line Coach Kevin Patrick Seamlessly Takes Over Veteran Unit Patrick, who earned Big East Defensive Player of the Year honors for Miami in 1993, took the defensive line coach position at NC State after a one-year coaching stint at Texas Tech. PHOTO BY KEN MARTIN "I've been rebuilding for a number of years... and every stop I've had to rebuild. Here it's a little bit different. It's, 'All right, boys. Go!'" ■ Patrick

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