The Forging of an Elite Unit

I try to refrain from posting articles from The Athletic because I know many of the coaches that read this blog don’t have access to the pieces behind their paywall, but I thought this article was too good not to post (I also included a PDF of my notes for coaches who can’t read the full article to look at). While the structure of football creates a different dynamic than basketball when it comes to things like position groups, I thought this piece on North Carolina State’s defensive line was something all coaches could learn from. I became obsesses with the idea of position units after reading Urban Meyer’s Above The Line (LINK) and I believe this article on NC State’s defensive line illustrated the concept of an elite unit forging its own identity as well as anything I’ve read.

Our coaches are out now watching ’em practice and talking to their guys about how they work in the weight room, finding out what their passion is for training because that, to me, is so important. They obviously have to love football, but they have to love training to be developed. And you don’t learn that in a camp. Your staff has to do a great job of understanding what your culture is and not recruiting a player into it that isn’t gonna work hard. You can’t develop if you’re not a hard worker. Do they enjoy your offseason program? Because if we hear no, that probably means we’ve gotta drag ’em in here, and that’s not a good sign if it’s a guy that needs to gain 50 pounds. What you do is you try to find reasons not to take people. What does he do that we don’t like, and once you find those things, can we fix ’em? And if you can’t, because he’s thin or he’s stiff, or he’s not tough or he doesn’t work hard, those are red flags.


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