Program Spotlight: Jeff Rieskamp
Dec. 1, 2011
Raleigh, N.C. - Jeff Rieskamp's career has mirrored the ups and downs that the NC State football team has experienced over the last couple seasons. The highest of highs was the 2010 campaign when the Cincinnati native started all but one game on the defensive line - leading the Wolfpack to one of the best seasons in program history.
The lowest of lows were probably equal parts 2009 and 2011. Back in the early days of pre-season camp of 2009, he began suffering from sharp pains in his abdomen. "It was like a knife ripping into me," he said. Doctors originally couldn't find anything wrong until Rieskamp went to a Philadelphia specialist, who identified the problem as a sports hernia.
He had significant abdominal surgery in late October that year and spent the rest of the season and the entire 2010 spring recuperating and rehabilitating from the painful injury.
Equally painful was the fact that he was one of the Wolfpack's most promising defensive lineman going into that 2009 camp, a player whose teammates called "a monster" during drills.
The 2011 season, the fifth-and-final campaign for the 6-3, 245-pound defensive end, unfortunately ended almost before it started for Rieskamp. The injury bug bit him again, this time a shoulder injury limited him to just one game, a victory over Liberty in the season opener back in September.
He hasn't played since and his college football career is likely over.
Luckily he will be able to hang his hat and tell stories to friends and family for a long time about the outstanding 2010 season that he was such a vital part of for the Wolfpack.
"Last year was unbelievable and going to the Champs Sports Bowl was kind of a culmination of everything that we had done since we've been here," said Rieskamp.
"The highs and the lows that we all went through in my freshman year and my red-shirt freshman year were tough," he added. "It was really an exciting atmosphere to be around all season long. It kind of reminded me of what it was like back in my high school days back in Cincinnati.
"Everybody just wanting to be there and everyone wanting to participate and do everything they could for the program."
He recalled the feeling the team endured after the loss to Rutgers in the Papa John's Bowl at the end of the 2008 season, one that saw him play in a reserve role as a red-shirt freshman.
The club was determined to not suffer another post-season loss in 2010.
"From the time we went to the pregame banquet and Taylor Gentry and Logan Winkles got up on stage and started ripping it up on the guitar and piano, and the West Virginia guys got up and started making fun of us. You could just tell from that moment there was a sour taste in our mouth and we were going to get after them," explained Rieskamp.
The Wolfpack certainly got after the Mountaineers to the tune of a 23-7 thumping down in Orlando.
"There has only been a couple times in my life I've been really that proud and excited."
That year his solid season saw him make 11 starts. One of his best games came at Georgia Tech where he tallied a season-high eight tackles, including two for loss, in the win over the Yellow Jackets.
Like a handful of his fifth-year senior classmates, Rieskamp traveled an interesting route to Raleigh.
The offseason coaching carousel began spinning at the time that he began trying to narrow down his college choices, and it seemed almost every school Rieskamp targeted was seeing a change in leadership.
"It was kind of a crazy year cause all the head coaches were switching schools," Rieskamp recalls. "Cincinnati's coach went to Michigan State, West Virginia's coaches left, and a whole bunch of other coaching situations weren't really good for me."
Looking for a program with good character, his eyes shifted towards Boston College and Eagles head coach Tom O'Brien.
"I took a visit to Boston College and thought it was a pretty stable situation," said Rieskamp, an avid outdoorsman who takes every opportunity to hunt and fish.
The day after he gave his verbal commitment to Boston College, Coach O'Brien left for NC State. A little puzzled by the timing of it all, Rieskamp talked with then BC defensive line coach Keith Willis.
Once it was all figured out that Willis and the rest of the staff was all heading to Wolfpack nation, he decided to take a shot at heading south.
"I came down and went to the spring game and really, really liked it," he explained. "The atmosphere was great. The stadium, the facilities are unbelievable and I still wanted to stay with the coaching staff."
Heading into the 2011 season he felt that spring ball went well for him, and the program. Rieskamp thought everyone was on the same page, and were buying right back into the program. The summer workouts were great and everything leading up to the year was the best yet in his opinion.
"If it wasn't for the injuries I really think this was going to be an even better year than the last."
Rieskamp will graduate this December and hopes to stay in the Raleigh area. He may consider pursuing additional schooling in the wildlife field, and will continue to hunt whenever he can.
"Since I've come down here I've taken up duck hunting," said Rieskamp. "I bow hunted a lot back in Ohio. I hope to make more connections with people here and go on more hunting trips. I always enjoy the camaraderie of hunting with big groups."
For good measure he can brag about catching a 10-pound bass at nearby Lake Johnson and once hauled in a massive white tail deer in the backyard of his home in Cincinnati - a 10 pointer that weighed over 200 pounds!
By Mark Kimmel