Ruffin McNeill's Biggest Asset to NC State: Himself

Brett Friedlander

Newly hired Ruffin McNeill will have any number of duties in his role as NC State's special assistant to head coach Dave Doeren.

His most important, however, will to simply be himself.

The former East Carolina coach's positive attitude, energy and love for both football and those who play it for him can't help but be an asset for a program looking to pull itself from the doldrums of last year's 4-8 disappointment.

"Everytime I talk to him I smile," Doeren said Tuesday on a Zoom conference with local media. "I think that was the one thing for me, the power of positivity and surrounding myself with people that generate that in people. I know Ruffin does that. There’s nothing that’s not genuine about him. I think that’s exactly what our staff needs, it’s what our players need, I’m sure every team could say the same.

"He’s in my opinion, one of the most positive and he’s also one of the most honest (people I know). To have someone else that I know is going to help young people be the best versions of themselves that they can be and give himself to them ... that’s what I want. There wasn't any agenda that came along with this, it’s just me trying to get a great human being to be a part of our program and help us be better at what we do. It’s a win-win."

McNeill, who resigned from his position as an assistant coach at Oklahoma earlier this year to be closer to his ailing father in his hometown of Lumberton, was hired Tuesday to a opportunity he described as the best of both worlds because it allowed him to be a good son while still being around a football program.

His duties are somewhat ambiguous, ranging from serving as an advisor to Doeren and leading special projects to being an ambassador for the program to students, alumni and community groups. 

He will also help provide player development analysis and be a major player in recruiting.

"I’ve always felt like recruiting is about relationships. Obviously that’s a strength of Ruff’s," Doeren said. "I know he’s going to have thousands of relationships he’s already got with high school coaches that are out there. 

"More than anything, I think when people are allowed to start visiting our campus again, that’s one of the things I’m most proud of, is the type of people that we have at NC State on our staff. Ruff adds to that mix and allows a mother, a father, a mentor, a recruit to sit down with a great human being that works for our university and talk about the advantages it breaks."

Unlike his previous coaching stops, where McNeill would do most of his recruiting on the road in the living rooms of prospective players, his job with the Wolfpack will keep him on campus.

Location, however, will be the only difference in the approach he takes with young players and their families. He said that he and Doeren are on the same page when it comes to their sales pitch.

"I think our philosophy of taking care of young men and making sure their reach the highest possible goals and more are both of our goals," McNeill said. "That’s what makes us unique. 

"I’ve always felt that a parent’s most prized possession is their child. I’m able to help Dave and his staff and young men come and see the real side, the truth. That’s what we’re going to provide, the truth part of it. I’m looking forward to that challenge. I’m looking forward to that opportunity, to be a part of it. I’m looking forward to attacking it."

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