The first Bonesville The Magazine
in 2002 featured a fresh-faced kid named Paul Troth
on the cover who was poised to move
into the starting quarterback role at East Carolina under the tutelage
of coach Steve Logan.
Former East Carolina quarterback
Paul Troth finished his college
playing career at Liberty after
transferring in 2003. He returned to
the Pirates prior to the 2006 season
to serve as an offensive graduate
assistant on Coach Skip Holtz's
staff while pursuing an advanced
degree in sports management.
SID photo ]
Then newly-enrolled freshman Paul
relaxes after a practice session
©2001 Bonesville.net ]
sophomore that season, Troth passed for 2,315 yards, the ninth highest
total in ECU history, but his career, the Pirate football program and
the university itself were drifting toward a twilight zone.
Five years and six summer magazine
editions later, a more mature Troth is preparing for another season in
the Pirate program in his second year as
offensive graduate assistant. He
has put the bitter memory of a 1-11 season in 2003 under coach John
Thompson into perspective.
His playing career digressed to a
remote niche as Desmond Robinson's seldom-used back-up in 2003 and he
transferred to Division I-AA Liberty
where he played his senior season in 2004.
The Pirates had the kind of success in
2006 a winning season and a bowl trip that Troth envisioned when he
first joined the program as a prized signee out of Vance High in
Charlotte, the son of an ECU couple. His dad, Mike, lettered in the
Pirate football program
in the 'seventies.
"Coming in (as a grad assistant) I knew
I'd be almost a little jealous of the situation," Troth said. "The guys
here have a great situation and a great coaching staff around them now.
The whole university is behind them.
"Not to say that it wasn't when I was
here but there was so much turmoil not just within the athletic
department but up through the chancellor's office. You didn't know who
was coming and who was going.
"You felt kind of like this was looked
at as a stepping stone whereas now people want to be here. They're
putting facilities in and they're doing things with the Pirate Club.
It's a family atmosphere."
From those awkward emotions at his
return, Troth has grasped his place as a GA who aspires to climb the
"I was jealous but now I realize that
stuff like that had to happen when I was in here and we had to go
through some rough times to enjoy the times that we have now," Troth
said. "Football-wise, it's been humbling.
"When I was here, I had ups and downs.
I enjoyed playing. Everybody knew who you were good and bad but at
the same time now it's more of a humbling experience. It's a grind every
day. Mostly, the toughest part was just learning how to be a coach
because it's completely different from being a player.
"You're not in the limelight anymore.
It's your job. When I was still playing ball, it was fun but now I'm
looking at it as a profession I can hopefully get into. I've made
mistakes and I've got to keep on learning from Coach (Todd) Fitch and
Coach (Steve) Shankweiler."
Pirates coach Skip Holtz traveled the
graduate assistant road on the staff of Bobby Bowden at Florida State in
the developmental stages of his coaching career.
"I had the opportunity to recruit Paul
from the Charlotte area when he was in high school," said Holtz, who was
offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at South Carolina at the
time. "I had the opportunity to get to know him and his family. I was
very impressed with the type of young man that he was.
"I know things didn't work out here at
East Carolina the way that he would have written the script but he still
loved East Carolina. When I first came to East Carolina he was one of
the first people that kind of met me out in the parking lot. He came up
and re-introduced himself and we got a chance to visit. He talked about
what his plans were and what he was trying to do.
"When this graduate assistant position
opened, he had written a letter stating that he had an interest in
getting into coaching. I had the opportunity to sit down with Coach
Shankweiler and talk a little but about Paul. Coach Shankweiler thought
he would be a real good addition to what we were trying to build.
"I thought it was a home run. Here was
a young man that things didn't go here the way he would have liked for
them to but at the same time he was real eager and excited to have the
opportunity to get back to his alma mater and be a graduate assistant
Troth is on the ground floor of college
"The way it was described to me when I
was a GA is that you get to do everything that everybody else doesn't
want to do," Holtz said. "You get to break down the film of the upcoming
opponent. You get to do all the computer work. You get to go get
people's coffee. You get to run and grab their lunch. It's an internship
is what it boils down to."
It's on the job training.
"Right now he's doing a really nice job
of breaking down film and he's learning a lot of football," Holtz said.
"He's getting an opportunity to run the scout teams the look teams of
our upcoming opponents. He's doing an outstanding job and I think he's
going to make an outstanding coach one day."
Holtz met his wife while working as a
GA with the Seminoles. Troth is married to the former Teresa Dodd of
Centreville, VA, whom he met at a Christian function while both were
attending ECU. She didn't know he was quarterback of the football team
which uniquely impressed him. She works as an art teacher at Wellcome
Middle School in Greenville.
"Coach Holtz has been great support for
where we are in our lives right now," Troth said. "We're humbled really,
but we're enjoying it," Troth said. "We're enjoying the struggle. We
enjoy working hard for anything that we have. It's great experience, I
think, just to learn."
Troth isn't bitter about his diminished
role in the coaching transition from Logan to Thompson.
"Everybody knows I came here for
certain reasons," he said. "Coach Logan being one of them."
Troth felt he was just beginning to
learn the college game when Logan was dismissed after a 4-8 record in
2002. Troth's learning curve took a detour with a new staff, a new
system and reduced playing time.
"What warranted me not playing and
ultimately my departure was my performance during the season," Troth
said. "I totally rest that on my shoulders. It was a learning
experience. I hate that I had to go through it. At the same time, I
understand that I didn't get the starting job to begin with (in 2003)
but I didn't do enough to win it back.
" ... When I got those opportunities on
game day, I didn't perform. Looking back at it now from a coaching
perspective, I wouldn't have played me either because I just wasn't
fitting into the system. Desmond fit that system a little bit better. He
played well. What frustrates me most is that we had a lot of talent on
Troth often played in 2003 trying to do
too much in order to impress the coaches.
"Instead of taking the check down, I
was trying to make the big play," he said.
Liberty provided a second chance in
football along with a spiritual emphasis that helped Troth get his
priorities in order.
While he's afforded an insight and
experience in college coaching, Troth also is working on an advanced
degree in sports management. He may move on to a Division II or I-AA
staff position or opt to take his next step into the high school ranks.
Because of his age and experience.
Troth can operate effectively as a liaison between the players and
higher levels of the Pirates coaching staff. He hopes to be there for
Rob Kass and ECU's other young quarterbacks to lean on this season.
"It was funny," Troth said. "Dave
Garrard came up here. We went and worked out and we threw some. He asked
me about (Kass). He said, 'What's this kid like?' I said, 'In a
nutshell, the best way I can describe him is that personality-wise he's
just like me.'
"He's his worst critic. He works as
hard as he can. He doesn't want to be treated anyway differently in
terms of his teammates than anybody else."
Those are the similarities but Troth
noted that there are also differences between the sophomore quarterbacks
of 2002 and 2007.
"He's a lot more talented," Troth said.
"He's a lot bigger. He's faster. He's smarter and he's got a stronger
arm. The key is the same situation as me. I hope the fans understand
that this kid is going to have his ups and downs.
"With this schedule that we face, he's
going to make mistakes but it's our job as coaches most importantly
the main guys that they give him the tools and they have. It's his
responsibility to understand it's not all on his shoulders.
"I made the mistake of thinking that."
Even with limited experience as a
freshman in 2006, Troth said Kass comes in better prepared to take
control of the ECU offense.
"Rob has shown the fans here that he
can lead this football team," Troth said. "In the bowl game, he stepped
in and did a great job. The on field experience he's had, he's been able
to learn. I didn't have that. I didn't redshirt. I was just kind of
thrust in there.
"He's going to be facing the best
defense in the land (Virginia Tech, Sept. 1) but I feel confident in Rob
that he's going to put in the time and the effort to understand what
he's going to face."