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East Carolina football coach Skip Holtz unveiled his 2006 recruiting class Wednesday in a press conference during which he also addressed a few non-recruiting topics. ... Select Audio Clip...


Record-setting Richmond County running back Norman Whitley inks an athletic grant with East Carolina in a Wednesday ceremony at his school. (Photo:

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View from the 'ville
Thursday, February 2, 2006

By Al Myatt

Recruiting class of '06 represents upgrade


Coaches will tell you that the factor that most frequently determines their ability is the ability of their players.

That's what makes football signing day so significant, because it defines the talent that a program has attracted and therefore indicates to a degree a team's potential for future success.

In appraising the class of 23 players that signed football letters of intent with East Carolina on Wednesday, Pirates coach Skip Holtz indicated that he and his staff had accomplished their bottom line goal of bringing better players into the program.

"The thing that we're looking for when we sit down and watch the film is not necessarily trying to compare one player to the other player, but what we're looking at is, 'Is he better than what we have?' Holtz said.

"Is he better than some of the players we have in the program? That's kind of what we use as our measuring stick because we're always looking to get better as we go through recruiting. I think we've improved ourself as a football team right now through this signing class."

The Pirates addressed needs by signing offensive linemen and linebackers in volume, but there also appears to be a nice collection of skill players headed for Greenville.

Still, evaluating recruits in football is a difficult proposition. Information on ESPN Insider rates Dwayne Harris (6-foot-1, 190 pounds) of Tucker, GA, as the best of the Pirate signees. He is No. 52 nationally among quarterbacks, although he is listed as an "athlete" in information released through the ECU sports information department, which could indicate that a possible position change is imminent.

Dekota Marshall (6-1, 180) of Southwest Onslow is listed as the No. 93 running back nationally but Holtz indicated his best opportunity for early playing time may be at cornerback.

D.J. Scott of Green Cove Spring, FL, is also rated No. 60 among offensive tackles.

ECU's overall class is rated No. 97 nationally and sixth among the 12 teams in Conference USA. Southern Miss supposedly signed the best class in the league and is rated No. 69. Although Memphis is coming off two straight bowl trips, the Tigers have the lowest rated class in C-USA, according to ESPN Insider's info, at No. 120.

The difficulty in comparing players and classes in football is that those who compile the rankings see only limited footage of prospects at best.

Holtz made the comment that a recent signee, who had gotten a 2-star rating (out of five stars) was one of the best players he had seen.

There is a much greater degree of validity in basketball recruiting because the top players often are assembled in summer camps and go head to head in competition. That gives recruiting evaluators a more effective and meaningful tool in compiling ratings.

As former ECU coach Steve Logan used to say when asked how good a particular class was, "I can tell you in four years."

Regardless of where the Pirates are rated, Holtz likes the incoming class and says some will have the chance to make an immediate impact. That's the bottom line.

Holtz said his approach is to take players from North Carolina first. The Pirates signed a significant in-state ECU legacy of sorts with Norman Whitley of the storied program at Richmond County. His coach with the Raiders was former Pirates coach Ed Emory.

Noting the heights of some of the receivers signed by the Pirates and ECU looks to be in favorable position to win "jump balls" in the secondary.

Holtz and staff also hit talent-rich areas such as Florida, Georgia and Tidewater Virginia to get players who they anticipate will make the Pirate program better.

Holtz announces deletions

Rather than deal with departures from the program as a potential distraction later on, Holtz announced at his signing day news conference that the building process of additions and deletions had resulted in a number of players departing from the program.

Five players are planning to transfer. Those include receiver Brian Howard, defensive back Erode Jean, offensive linemen Zack Davis and Mike Williams, and defensive lineman Mike Horner. Holtz said that group will likely transfer to Division I-AA programs to avoid sitting out a season. He stressed that all were leaving on good terms and that all felt their opportunities for playing time would be better at other institutions.

Defensive lineman Mike MacDonagh must give up football because of a spinal condition. Holtz also said receiver Robert Tillman had been suspended for the semester.

Logan in Saints' QB coach mix

Although former ECU coach Steve Logan had been mentioned as a possibility for the quarterbacks coach position at Green Bay that went to Tom Clements, he is also in the mix to join the staff of New Orleans coach Sean Payton at the same position.

Logan will likely return to NFL Europe, where he has performed well as quarterbacks coach of the Berlin Thunder for the past two years, if the New Orleans possibility doesn't pan out.

ECU completed its $200,000 annual obligation to Logan on Jan. 1.

Pirate Club treasure chest

For the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2005, the ECU Educational Foundation, better known as the Pirate Club, reported $7,934,052 in total contributions.

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02/23/2007 12:29:51 AM


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