NC State may have the ACC’s best defensive front, but the Wolfpack also have a new D-line coach. We chatted with Kevin Patrick about his new job, the talent he’s inheriting and the superstar he used to play with.
What was the biggest draw for you to NC State?
Patrick: The culture of the program they’ve set forth here was a huge draw. You look at it from a team perspective, but also from a professional perspective; it’s a culture I want to be a part of. I’m familiar with these type of people, these alpha males, as you call them, and it’s exciting to be a part of it.
Patrick: I’m blessed. I’ve had the opportunity to coach guys that are still playing in the league today that are superb talents. They’re all fun to coach, but when you get around guys like that, that not only have the physical capabilities but the mental capability to understand the game, man, it doesn’t get any better than that. I told the guys, "I’ll be honest, I came here for you guys, because of you guys. I am a D-lineman. I’m that guy also. We are like like-minded people. Alpha dogs stick together."
Those guys really seem like they want to be the alpha dogs of the whole team, to go out and prove it in the weight room and on the field.
Patrick: They don’t just talk about it, they execute it. Their reputation is that they’re out there executing it. Whether it’s in the classroom, on the field, in the weight room, these guys are doing it. Guys like that rise to the top, and they’re great teammates.
There’s a lot of talent on this roster, but you’re also in the same division with teams that have been to the national championship game three of the last four years. How do you approach that challenge?
Patrick That’s part of the reason I came here. I see it. It’s there. And I feel it when I’m here. I feel the identity that’s been created here, the culture that’s been created, the direction -- everybody here is moving in that direction. I was raised in the firestorm of college football, and in my playing days, that’s the identity that I had. We all search for that and work to build it. And here, as I look out at the stadium, you can feel it. It’s definitely here. It’s not going to be easy. It’s difficult. It’s the best [conference] in the country. It’s going to be exciting. We have a lot of work to do and we’re looking forward to it.
You mentioned your playing days at Miami, where you won two national titles. How much do those experiences impact you as a coach now?
Patrick: That’s part of my DNA, and part of the attraction here is I see that same mentality, definitely up front. It’s how they play the game. It’s almost like a mirror image of that time. I’m excited about the opportunity to be here. I’ve always felt I’ve been blessed to coach this game, and I’m definitely blessed to be here. And my days as a player is what’s made me who I am today. That’s what I carry with me. I coach it like I played it.
And speaking of your playing days, how often do you get asked about your old teammate, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson?
Patrick: Once a week, at least. Dwayne’s a great person. Most people don’t know him as I do. They see him as a movie star. He’s just a friend of mine. The blessings that have happened to him couldn’t have happened to a better person. He’s a phenomenal dude.
Do you have a favorite of his movies? And please say “Tooth Fairy.”
Patrick: That was the first one my kids wanted to go see. My wife met him years ago and knows him, but my kids never had an opportunity to meet him. And it’s always strange seeing a friend in that situation, and it’s kind of awkward. So I would say that one because it’s odd seeing him in a tooth fairy tutu.