March 15, 2011

Coach: Noel will make smooth transition to college

Four-star safety Rodman Noel is the headlining recruit of NC State's athletic class of 2011. ranked the 6-foot-3, 205-pounder as the No. 7 prep school player in the country and is the team's only signee to earn more than a three-star ranking.

The native of Everett, Mass. clearly has a division I body, his monstrous frame jumps off the page, especially when listed right next to his defensive back position. He has phenomenal bloodlines, too: his brother, Jim, is a rangy strong safety at Boston College and younger brother Nerlens is a 6-10 center at Tilton (N.H.) and regarded as one of the best basketball players in the class of 2013.

As a prep senior, Rivals ranked him as the No. 3 prospect in Massachusetts and the No. 43 safety in the country; and he has only gotten better since then while prepping at New Berlin (N.Y.) Milford Academy under coach Bill Chaplick, who also tutored NC State draft hopeful Jake Vermiglio for a post-graduate year.

"He's become a better hitter, a more physical player," Chaplick said. "The transition from high school to here is significant. We play a college schedule, some Junior Colleges, we only play one other prep school. Playing a 12-game schedule against men instead of boys helps and practice helps because we had 13 guys [sign with FBS programs] and another nine [sign with FCS programs]. The talent of who you are playing against every day was there and it can only make these guys improve; you're only as good as the people you're playing against.

"The sky is the limit for him. You aren't going to get that many guys who are that athletic and can do a lot of things like he can. It's a good problem to have, trying to figure out where to play him. They key to a player like him is that he got better every week and he got more physical, you could see his confidence growing. When you're playing with other [FBS] guys, they push each other. You've got to do it every day here, you have to prove yourself every day."

During his time with Milford Academy, he also became very familiar with a busy schedule similar to the one he will have to keep at NC State while balancing workouts, meetings, practice and class.

"He's already been away from home and I run a program just like the [FBS] schools - he's used to getting up at 6 a.m. to run and left then he's getting dressed and going to mandatory class, he's already done all that," Chaplick said. "He's much more of a man than the high school guys, he's already had the culture shock of leaving his family. He's been around full scholarship athletes and he's learned how to compete. The regimen we have is mandatory school, mandatory workouts, mandatory practice, mandatory meetings, he's just going to step right into it at NC State."

In addition to being a game-changer - he totaled 41 tackles, seven pass breakups, four interceptions (one of which he returned for a score) and two field goal blocks during his year with the Falcons - Noel would line up at safety or cornerback based on what the other team had on offense. In the Falcons' 4-2-5 defensive system, the safeties blitzed a lot while corners were asked to shut out opposing receivers.

"He's a smart football player, number one," Chaplick said. "He's tall, very athletic, has a good feeling for the field. We played him at safety and when our opponent had a tall receiver, we would put him at corner and he would lock people down. We play a college jayvee schedule so he had a good year, he was a star player and got better every week, which is what you really want. We were an 11-1 football team, which makes it even better. We should've been 12-0 but it wasn't his fault."

The school boasts that it sends approximately 98 percent of its students onto colleges and more than two-thirds of those Milford graduates have received four-year scholarships. In Chaplick's 12 years at the school, the former Boston College offensive lineman has sent over 110 players into FBS schools and his former players that have reached the NFL number more than 20. He says there is no doubt that Noel has what it takes to reach the highest level.

"I think he's the kind of player that the better the team is, the better he is going to play," he said. "That is greatness, when you have that ability to step it up.

"With a body like his and Coach O'Brien's staff, it's about how good he can be and how fast he can play. When he gets into a four-year program, oh my God. When he can learn the system and he can do it for multiple years without changing and he has spring practices, he is going to be flying all over the field."

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