College Sports in the Carolinas
from the East
Monday, January 19, 2004
By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News &
ECU football looks to Gators for
CyberEast of New Bern
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A contract has not been completed and nothing is official but John Grieco (Grē-kō)
from the University of Florida has the inside track for the new football
strength and conditioning position at East Carolina.
Grieco, who graduated from Florida in 1995, has been the strength and
conditioning coordinator for the Gators baseball program and also has worked
with Florida’s football program. He has been a fulltime strength and
conditioning coach at his alma mater since July, 1996.
Grieco has been responsible for general physical development and in-season
conditioning of Florida athletes.
The Gators baseball program with which he has worked has been ranked No. 15
nationally in the preseason by Collegiate Baseball and No. 20 by
Durham-based Baseball America. Florida is coming off a 37-21-1 season in
2003 in which it reached an NCAA regional final for the second straight
Grieco has learned under highly-respected Florida strength and conditioning
director Rob Glass, who has worked with 14 players taken in the first round
of the NFL draft, six players taken in the first round in the NBA and four
first-rounders in major league baseball.
Glass worked with Heisman Trophy winner Barry Sanders during Glass’s tenure
at Oklahoma State from 1986 to 1995 and another Heisman winner, Danny
Wuerffel, quarterback of Florida’s 1996 national championship team. The list
of athletes Glass has trained is long and impressive.
The strength program at ECU has been directed by former Virginia Tech
defensive end Jim Whitten the last three years. Whitten was selected by
former Pirates football coach Steve Logan to replace Jeff Connors, when
Connors left after 10 years at ECU to take over strength and conditioning
for the football program at North Carolina.
Interim athletics director Nick Floyd has said that Whitten will remain at
ECU and work with other sports. There was a segment of the ECU community
interested in bringing Connors back. The Pirates probably couldn’t have
afforded such a move and Connors had some logistical questions about how the
position and facilities would be administered with Whitten still on the
Former ECU star linebacker Jeff Kerr, who has worked on Connors’ staff at
UNC, was interested in returning to his alma mater and recently talked with
Pirates head football coach John Thompson in regard to the newly-created
position. According to a source, Kerr has since accepted a position with a
Thompson was limited to an extent by uncertainty over specifics of the
position, including available salary. Thompson, who was defensive
coordinator at Florida during the 2002 season, obviously has personal
knowledge of Grieco and confidence in him.
The role of the strength coaching staff in college football is vital and, to
an extent, under-appreciated. Capable personnel can greatly impact the
physical development of players. The football staff itself is limited in the
coaching contact it can have with a team at times other than spring
practice, preseason practice and the season itself. The rest of the time the
players essentially report to the strength coach for conditioning,
development, direction and training.
When a high school defensive back muscles up enough to become an outside
linebacker or a team wins in the fourth quarter because it is in better
shape than its opponent, there is a strength coach in the background who
deserves much of the credit.
Another productive recruiting weekend
ECU secured three more football commitments over the weekend bringing its
known total to 23. Signing date is Feb. 4 and, like last year, a gathering
will be held at the Murphy Center in conjunction with official announcement
of the incoming class of Pirates.
The latest group to board the Pirate ship includes outside linebacker/strong
safety Demario Kelly of Norcross, Ga., tight end/defensive end Mark Robinson
of Lyman High School in Longwood, Fla., and defensive end Zach Slate of
Leonard says Panthers in a close one
Former East Carolina running back Leonard Henry, who has been on the Miami
Dolphins roster the last two years, favors the Carolina Panthers slightly
over the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl on Feb. 1 in Houston.
Henry, from Clinton, N.C., is second on the ECU career rushing list with
3,089 yards. Bonesville.net’s first Carolinas player of the year in 2001,
Henry will be going to Miami on Tuesday to discuss his status with the
Dolphins. This weekend he watched the NFL conference championships.
“Carolina is playing real great and also has a little bit of luck, which
teams need in a Super Bowl along with pure raw talent, which both teams
have,” Henry said.
Henry, who ran for 92 yards and two touchdowns in ECU’s 40-27 win over Texas
Tech in the Galleryfurniture.com Bowl in Houston to conclude the 2000
season, said the city should be a good host for the NFL’s showcase event.
“As a team we enjoyed Houston,” Henry said. “They showed us respect. They
had everything laid out for us and treated us with a lot of love.”
As for his pick, Henry is going with the Panthers to prevail, 17-14.
“Neither teams’ offense really has a standout guy,” he said. “They both
rotate running backs and wide receivers. They’re pretty much even there.
"Defensively, it’s going to be a stingy game. New England has
great linebackers and a great scheme. Carolina’s defense is always around
the ball and they’ve been making plays.”
Panthers defensive back Ricky Manning has given his agent the keys to Fort
Knox with a series of huge playoff interceptions.
“He’s been in the right place at the right time,” Henry said. “The Panthers
have had a spurt right when they needed it to happen.”
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02/23/2007 12:44:52 AM