RALEIGH, NC -- Dave Doeren didn't have the luxury of showing recruits video of his North Carolina State Wolfpack in action hoping to woo them to his program.
Having taken over the program in early December after Tom O'Brien was fired following a 7-6 season, Doeren faced an uphill climb that, at least on the recruiting front, ended Wednesday afternoon with the signing of his first class at the ACC school.
There isn't anything earth-shattering about Doeren's first group, but there are positives within the 25-member class.
"I think we made a lot of strides," said Doeren, who led Northern Illinois to the Orange Bowl this past season, though he left the team before it lost to Florida State on Jan. 1. "And it really started with me going to bowl practice and trying to assess what our class needed to fit our systems that we want to run. Not that all of them are going to be able to play right away but some of them will."
Doeren believes they filled some needs, in particular at the offensive skills positions. N.C. State's class is currently ranked No. 9 in the ACC and No. 53 overall by Scout.com. Wake Forest, Duke, Georgia Tech, Syracuse and Boston College pulled in classes rated lower than the Wolfpack's, and considering Wake, Duke and Tech are led by coaches that have been around at least five seasons at their schools, this wasn't a bad first class.
Key for Doeren was securing the players who had already committed to play for O'Brien. Doeren only got out on the trail for a few days before the dead period hit, and for a while it was a process of working the phones and getting prospects to have patience as he put together a staff.
"What we were trying to do is to get them to give us time to get the staff in place and wanted them to give us a chance to get in front of them face-to-face before they made any changes," Doeren explained. "We knew that some of them would probably look and some of them wouldn't, and we knew the one that looked, some of them would stay and some of them probably wouldn't, and that's okay.
"At the end of the day, I want to coach guys that want to be at State."
Overall, 13 of the players that signed committed after Doeren was hired. Three of Doeren's signees have already enrolled in school and will take part in spring practice.
Among them, Cole Blankenship is the highest rated player in the entire class, as the No. 22 center in the nation. At 6-foot-2, 275 pounds from Mocksville, NC, Blankenship committed last April under the former regime, but kept his commitment with Doeren and his staff.
Considered physical and with excellent body balance, he missed half of his senior season because of a foot injury but was still named to the Shrine Bowl. Blankenship also visited Duke, West Virginia and Wake Forest.
Also already on campus is Bral'on Cherry, an unrated wide receiver from New Bern, NC. He was an all-state star who helped his team win the state championship. Impressively, Cherry had nine receiving touchdowns, two on the ground, a punt return for a score and two kickoffs for touchdowns, plus he intercepted five passes.
"I like everything about N.C. State," Cherry told Scout.com. "I like the school, the environment, and the facilities. The coaches are cool I just fit in there."
Quarterback Jacoby Brissett, a transfer from Florida, also enrolled early but must sit out next season.
The class breakdown is as follows: 1 4-star recruit (Brissett); 16 3-star players; and eight 2-star recruits. Ten recruits are listed among the top 100 players at their positions in the nation, four aren't ranked at all, three are transfers two from four-year schools and one from a junior college, and transfers aren't ranked.
The rest of the best are Johnathan Jones, the No. 30 outside linebacker in the nation, who was also offered by Arkansas, Georgia and Notre Dame, among others. Josh Jones is the No. 42 safety and chose the Wolfpack over Iowa, Illinois and Pittsburgh. Detroit defensive tackle Kenton Gibbs is the No 42 player at his position and picked Doeren's club over Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana, among many other offers.
Dorern landed some other notable players rated in the top-100 at their positions. Tyler Reagan from Jacksonville, FL, is ranked the No. 48 offensive guard and opted for the red and white over Arkansas, Iowa State and Tennessee. Monty Nelson, also a Florida native, is the No. 55 defensive tackle and had offers from Michigan State, Louisville and Wisconsin.
The top tailback in N.C. State's class is Mathew Dayes of Weston, FL. He's the No. 59 running back and picked NCSU over Miami, Tennessee and West Virginia. Middle linebacker Quinton Patterson of Shelby, NC, is rated No. 65 at his position and picked the Pack over start-up UNC-Charlotte.
Doeren and his staff are already working on the class of 2014, and he's anticipating greater success, especially given what he was up against these last two months.
"Not that we're result-wise disappointed in what we got, we're excited," he said. "But the process will be dramatically different Our relationship will be 12 months."