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College Sports in the Carolinas

View from the East
Monday, March 15, 2004

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

Logan-inspired switch has payoff for Ledford


Dwayne Ledford has an insight on playing offensive tackle that some of his more experienced NFL colleagues may lack.

As many Pirate fans may recall, Ledford was a defensive tackle at ECU until his senior season in 1998.

Former ECU coach Steve Logan moved Ledford from the defensive side and explained that the position switch would give the McDowell High product from Marion, N.C. a better chance to make it at the next level.

Five seasons later, the determined Ledford made his first NFL start on the offensive front of the San Francisco 49ers in an overtime loss to the Saint Louis Rams during the 2003 season.

“I’ve worked with some great guys,” Ledford said. “It’s a childhood dream from the time I was eight years old and playing in the yard.”

Ledford played in nine games for the 49ers last season. Prior to that he had played in one NFL game — for Jacksonville in 2000.

“It’s been a great five years as far as experiences,” Ledford said. “I’ve had my ups and downs. I’ve been to NFL Europe and plenty of training camps.”

Ledford, whose agent is Pat Dye Jr., son of the former ECU football coach who has been nominated for the College Football Hall of Fame, is signed with San Francisco through next season.

Ledford has many special memories of his days at ECU, and super Pirate Club rep Perry Hudson has been discussing involvement with the booster organization with Ledford.

“It’s important for guys to give back to the school,” Ledford said. “I’m planning to come back and visit some people. I value the friendships I had at East Carolina. Coach Logan did a lot for me as an individual. I grew up to be a man there and it’s important to give back something to a place that gave me so much.”

Ledford got his degree in exercise and sport science at ECU and has worked as a personal trainer during some down time in his pro career.

The 49ers sent him to NFL Europe in the spring of 2003 and he was effective enough to earn a contract with the team when he returned to the states.

“The 49ers are going through some changes,” he said. “They’re not a lot different from a lot of other teams but you hear more about us because we’re a high profile franchise. With the salary cap it’s nearly impossible to hold a team together.”

The exploits of his ECU days have followed Ledford all the way to the West Coast as he tries to develop a post-playing career in broadcasting.

“It’s funny, but last week I was talking with one of the producers at Channel 5 television out here about an internship and it turned out that he went to Southern Miss. We got to talking about the time we beat them in 1995 (36-34). We ran a fake field goal and they got a pass interference on the play that set up the winning field goal.

" ... Handing Miami one of their worst losses ever (31-6, 1996) is another big memory. There were also some disappointing moments like the game at Alabama in 1998. That was a game you look back on and feel like you should have won. That game still stands out.”

When Ledford comes back to visit, he also plans to check in with former ECU strength and conditioning Jeff Connors, who is now at North Carolina.

“That’s not to far down the road and Coach Connors meant a lot to my development as a player,” Ledford said.

Among his former teammates that Ledford keeps up with are former roommate Jeff Kerr, an outstanding linebacker who now satisfies his competitive drive on a NASCAR pit crew. Ledford also stays in touch with former Pirates linebacker Matt Semenza. His path has crossed with former Pirates Rod Coleman and Devone Claybrooks in the NFL.

Claybrooks’ progress was a factor in Ledford’s relocation in spring practice after his junior season, a move that enabled his pro career. Ledford is still listed at 6-feet-4 but his weight has increased 20 pounds from his ECU days to 300 currently.

He said he was cooking teriyaki when he was reached by phone last week.

Ledford admitted to some regret that Logan was dismissed as coach of the program he matured in.

“I haven’t met Coach (John) Thompson,” he said. “But I’ve heard some good things about him from some guys who knew him at Florida.”

Ledford started 11 games at defensive tackle at ECU in 1997 and was in on 26 tackles, including 20 solo stops. He had four stops behind the line of scrimmage. Ledford’s move helped an offensive line that had struggled tremendously in the junior season of running back Scott Harley in 1997.

Net rushing increased from 742 yards in 1997 to 1,658 yards in 1998 with Ledford moving to the O-Line.

“Going to the Liberty Bowl in 1995 was special,:” Ledford said. “There were a lot of good memories at ECU.”

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02/23/2007 12:45:18 AM

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