If there's one tiling Wolfpack coach Chuck Amato knows about senior quarterback Philip Rivers, it's that Rivers believes in doing things the right way. Consider how he handled getting married in 2001. After telling his parents and planning his proposal to his high school sweetheart, Tiffany Goodwin, Rivers walked into Amato's office and politely asked if Amato objected to the idea. Though Amato approved, he couldn't resist needling Rivers before giving his blessing. "What would you do," Amato said with a straight face, "if I said no?"
Amato still laughs about that moment, but he's become accustomed to expecting just about anything from his standout passer. In three years the 6'5", 236-pound Rivers has thrown for 8,993 yards and 61 touchdowns, led a formerly mediocre program to a 26-12 record and helped make N.C. State a national championship contender. "You can't put a price on how valuable Phil has been," Amato says. "They waited 40 years to have another Roman Gabriel on this campus, and he's been it."
Juggling the roles of quarterback, husband and father to one-year-old daughter Halle has matured Rivers. "As much as I care about football, it means a lot to go back to them after a hard day," Rivers says. Not that Rivers has cut himself off from the rest of the team. Unity was one of the keys to the Wolfpack's 11-3 record last year, and Rivers was a big part of that. This year's team could have one of the most talented offenses in school history, with Rivers, senior wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery (1,192 yards, seven TDs in '02) and running back T.A. McLendon, who rushed for a school-record 18 rushing touchdowns as a freshman.
Several days after N.C. State beat Notre Dame 28-6 in the Gator Bowl, Rivers began preparing for this season by throwing with his receivers four times per week, a regimen that has continued throughout the summer. "It shows that, from Day One, we've believed we can win a national championship," Rivers says. "It's easy to say it, but we're working toward it."
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