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NC State head coach Dave Doeren has announced that his mentor and friend Ruffin McNeill has joined the Wolfpack staff. McNeill, one of the most well-liked and respected people in college football, will serve as the special assistant to the head coach.

Doeren has known McNeill, who boasts four decades of coaching experience, for more than 20 years and their professional paths have crossed several times. When Doeren was a graduate assistant at USC in 1999, McNeill was the defensive line coach at nearby Fresno State. The two coached in the Big 12 together from 2002-05 - Doeren at Kansas and McNeill at Texas Tech - and for Doeren’s first three years at NC State, McNeill was the head coach at East Carolina.

“I’ve known Ruffin since the beginning of my coaching career,” Doeren said. “Not only is he one of my closest friends in the profession, but he’s been a mentor to me since I was 24 years old. We’ve crossed paths on the recruiting trail many times over the past 22 years and have been friends and competitors. Having a former head coach on our staff who I can trust and have known for almost my entire career is a huge benefit for me personally, as well as for our entire program.

“As a North Carolina native and a former coach at Appalachian State and ECU, Ruffin has great relationships and ties across our state. I am looking forward to working with him and want to welcome him and his wife Erlene to the Wolfpack family.”

In his role with the Wolfpack, McNeill will serve as an advisor to Doeren and will contribute to and lead special projects. He will be a source of outreach for Wolfpack football to campus, alumni, and community groups on behalf of the program. He will also help provide player development analysis.

“Dave and I have been very good friends and colleagues and I’ve followed his career over the past 20 years,” said McNeill. “I have the highest respect for him as a coach and cherish our long friendship. Erlene and I are happy to be back in North Carolina and very appreciative of the opportunity.

“I look forward to being a resource for the entire staff, but especially for Dave. I’ve been in that chair and know the pressures that come along with it, so I hope to be a sounding board for him.”

McNeill most recently served as the assistant head coach at Oklahoma, where he led the defensive tackles and outside linebackers during his three seasons with the program. He also served as defensive coordinator for much of the 2018 campaign. He left the program in January in order to return to North Carolina to help care for his elderly father.

A star defensive back at East Carolina, McNeill served as the head coach at his alma mater for six seasons from 2010-15, posting a a 42-34 record with four bowl appearances.

During his tenure wth the Pirates, current Wolfpack cornerbacks coach Brian Mitchell served as his defensive coordinator for three seasons (2010-12).