Before the season opener against Georgia Southern, N.C. State quarterback Jacoby Brissett got an idea.
He does not remember how the idea came to him, or why it came to him. He just remembers grabbing a pen and some paper and writing a letter, then another, then another, until he had written letters to all his teammates on offense.
They did not say much. A few words of encouragement to one player, a thank you for being a good teammate to another. He hand delivered the letters, each time met with surprise. How many people take time to write letters anymore?
How many quarterbacks?
For Brissett, it was a way to grow closer with his teammates in his first season as a starting quarterback at NC State. His teammates responded so favorably, he kept handing out letters.
“It just stuck with me,” Brissett said in a recent interview. “A lot of them keep the letters. I know one week I didn’t write letters because I talked to the whole offense together and everybody was curious why they didn’t get a letter. It’s funny to see they actually pay attention to it.”
That happened to be Louisville week.
Brissett never made that mistake again. So the ritual continued all the way up to the end of the season.
“For me and my roommate, it touched us both and showed us how serious he was about the games and it showed he had faith in us,” senior receiver Bryan Underwood said. “It was good to see he was taking another step in leadership toward the team.”
Neither coach Dave Doeren nor offensive coordinator Matt Canada knew about the letter writing, though neither was surprised to hear Brissett had been doing it all season.
We are talking about a player who bakes cookies for his offensive linemen. Indeed, Brissett is not too proud to show his sensitive side, though it is easier to do that with words on a page.
“It’s a matter of saying I appreciate what you’ve done so far,” Brissett said. “Or if someone is going through a rough time, it’s a chance to say I’m here for you if you need me. Sometimes, you’ve got to joke with some of them. With the offensive linemen,nah you have to joke with them because they’re never serious, anyway.”
Brissett is a big reason why NC State made it back to a bowl game in 2014, ready to take on UCF in the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl on Dec. 26. He started all 12 games in his first season as a full-time starter and ended up throwing for 2,344 yards and 22 touchdowns to five interceptions while running for 498 yards and three more scores.
His performance against rival North Carolina was the best of the season, as he rushed for 167 yards and accounted for four touchdowns. Getting back to a bowl and beating the rival Tar Heels qualifies as major progress for a team that went 3-9 under Doeren a year ago.
But nobody is satisfied, least of all Brissett.
“I think being a quarterback, and with the goals and expectations I have for myself, I have to put a lot more pressure on myself than everybody else does,” Brissett said. “I hold myself to a higher standard and every game, I want to make the right read, the right throw and as much as everybody says you can’t be perfect, why not? That’s always my thought process going into a game.”
He has his letter writing process, too. Seems that has worked out perfectly for Brissett and his teammates.