College Sports in the Carolinas
from the East
Friday, February 6, 2004
By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News &
Thompson points to spring
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The East Carolina coaching staff has harvested its incoming class for 2004.
Although recruiting never ends, it is not the all-consuming priority that it
becomes from the time a season is completed until the time those letters of
intent are faxed to the ECU football office on signing day.
“Now it’s time to turn the page,” Pirates coach John Thompson said on
Thursday. “The focus never really leaves the season and it never leaves
recruiting, but it’s time to turn our attention to spring ball and our own
Thompson said spring practice would start on Tuesday, March 2. The spring
game, in conjunction with the Great Pirate Pigskin Pig-Out, will be
Saturday, March 27.
There will be a clinic for high school coaches the first weekend of spring
practice, March 5-6. Dan Werner, quarterbacks coach at the University of
Miami, will be a featured speaker at the clinic.
“It’s going to be a lot different in some ways,” Thompson said of spring
workouts this year. “We know where we need to get better and we know our
players. We’re looking forward to getting out there. Right now it’s not what
letter to write or what call to make, like it is during recruiting. The
whole coaching business is all intertwined but now the focus changes.”
Spring ball was a learning experience for Pirate players and coaches last
season. The coaches were learning each other and their personnel as well as
teaching new systems. There will still be some learning and teaching this
year, especially on the offensive side where new coordinator Noah Brindise
has been charged with revamping ECU’s attack.
“Noah will be running the offense and calling the plays,” said Thompson, a
longtime defensive coordinator at stops including Florida, Arkansas and
Southern Miss. “The (Florida) system that Noah believes in and comes from
was always the toughest to prepare for. ... It had a little bit of
everything. I won’t call it trickery but it’s an offense that does a lot of
things and makes you work on defense. I like the terminology and how he
plans to teach the system.
“It will be different from last year. We want a power running game and we’ve
got to find a way to get the ball down the field throwing it. We didn’t have
a lot of continuity between our receivers and quarterbacks last year. That’s
where this offense can be so much better.”
Three junior college players from Thompson’s second recruiting class have
already enrolled and will take part in Thompson’s second spring session.
That trio includes safety Zack Baker, tight end Shawn Levesque and offensive
lineman Joel Renaud. Thompson feels like the newcomers will improve the
“We feel good about the guys we got,” he said. “We’ve improved our team
immediately and for the future. I don’t think there’s any question about
ECU only signed three players from North Carolina compared to 16 with
Florida roots but keep in mind that Thompson and defensive coordinator Jerry
Odom were much more aware of the young talent in the Sunshine state having
come to the Pirates from the Gators program. That’s one factor that makes
the coaching clinic important.
“We want to get the high school coaches on our campus and get to know them,”
The ECU staff also will be featured at the clinic along with prep coaches
such as Greg Thomas, a former Pirates player who guided Greenville Rose to
the NCHSAA 4-A championship in 2003.
More familiarity with in-state high school coaches can only help future
in-state recruiting. There will be a small fee for high school coaches to
attend the clinic. For more information, coaches may call the ECU football
office at (252) 328-4570. The clinic will include a chalk talk on Friday
night and access to a scrimmage on Saturday.
Thompson has started assembling a new playbook since the new class of
recruits put their names on the dotted line. The new playbook will become
the text of reference for the Pirates in spring practice. The second time
around should be different.
“We know what we need to work on now,” Thompson said. “We’re thin in some
areas but we’ll get better. Instead of finding out what we need to work on,
we’ll be working on it.”
The other Herrion
College of Charleston coach Tom Herrion is the younger brother of East
Carolina coach Bill Herrion and his Cougars are one of the top programs in
the Southern Conference. The brothers stay in touch.
“We speak on a daily basis pretty much,” said Tom, whose team is 8-1 in
league play and 16-3 overall after a challenging non-conference schedule
that included losses at Auburn and Wisconsin. “We follow each other’s teams
very closely. ... We’re communicating on a daily basis.”
Naturally, the younger Herrion was happy that Bill’s team was able to end
its futility in Conference USA road games with a narrow win at South Florida
on Tuesday night. But don’t look for the Herrion brothers to measure each
other competitively in the near future.
“From the outside looking in it might be kind of cute and neat to play each
other, but I’m not sure it would be healthy,” Tom said. “ ... After 40
minutes, one of us is going to win and one of us is going to lose. This is a
vicious profession and I’m not sure it would be a good thing.”
Tom Herrion’s Cougars play on ESPN2 on Feb. 21 at 4 p.m. at Western Michigan
in a “Bracket Busters” matchup.
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02/23/2007 12:45:02 AM