Pinkney, Jackson products of personnel
East Carolina quarterback Patrick
Pinkney is the most experienced of the Pirates' prominent skill position
players and running back Brandon Jackson, a transfer from Kentucky, is
among the newest.
Pinkney is a rare sixth-year senior, a
status bestowed upon him by virtue of a successful appeal to the NCAA
based on medical hardship following a pair of shoulder surgeries dating
back to the John Thompson coaching era at ECU.
Jackson joined the Pirates for spring
drills after ECU claimed the Conference USA championship weeks earlier.
Despite the contrast in their tenures
in the program, the circumstances that have them projected as major
players going into the 2009 season are much the same. Personnel
attrition at their positions gave them a chance and thus far they've
each made the most of their respective opportunities.
Pinkney might have left the scene
without much fanfare had Rob Kass, who had won the starting job in the
preseason of 2007, not been charged with DUI after the final scrimmage
before the season opener at Virginia Tech. Pinkney was third on the
depth chart at the time, behind Kass and Brett Clay.
Clay was ineffective against the Hokies
and coach Skip Holtz turned to Pinkney, a Pirate legacy, whose dad,
Reggie, was a defensive back for ECU in the mid-1970's before moving on
to the NFL. After showing promise in a 17-7 loss in Blacksburg, Pinkney
earned his place in Pirate lore by completing 31 of 41 passes for 406
yards and three touchdowns the following week in a 34-31 win over North
Carolina in Greenville.
The Pirates are banking so heavily on
Pinkney at this point that Kass has moved to tight end and the backups
at quarterback have yet to take a college snap on the varsity level.
Jackson emerged in the hunt for ball
carriers after Dominique Lindsay was injured and personnel issues
separated Jonathan Williams and Norman Whitley from the program.
Jackson produced progressively better
numbers during the spring, rushing for 55 yards on 15 carries and
catching a 6-yard scoring pass in the Purple-Gold game.
"I just think my role is to come in and
bring a different energy to the game," Jackson said. "I just need to
bring something different whether it be coming off the bench, starting
or coming in third or fourth. My greatest asset is just the energy that
While Pinkney shapes up as the man at
quarterback, the Pirates have ample numbers at running back now that
Lindsay is healthy and Whitley and Williams have been reinstated.
"We have experience," Pinkney said.
"Everybody knows what they're doing. Everybody's on one accord right
Nine returning starters on offense give
unit coordinator Todd Fitch the flexibility to utilize virtually the
"We don't have a fear that we can't
throw it here, we can't do this or we can't do that," Fitch said. "I
think we'll have a lot of confidence to spread the ball around and let
them play fast."
The depth at running back, boosted by
Jackson's spring performance, is a potentially productive situation.
"What it will do for us is when you
have your opportunities, you know you have to be at your best," Fitch
The Pirates have encountered some
significant adversity in terms of personnel losses in recent years, but
one player's misfortune is oftentimes another player's opportunity.
Pinkney and Jackson exemplify players who have stepped in and stepped up
when the door for career advancement has opened.
Fortunately, the Pirates have stayed
pretty healthy thus far in the preseason. Making good decisions off the
field is important, too. Holtz has expressed the hope that no one will
embarrass themselves or the program in terms of their conduct as
measured against team standards, even though the silver lining in such
situations has produced a poised quarterback and a promising running
back as the 2009 season approaches.
Apps offense a bit of a mystery
ECU defensive coordinator Greg Hudson
may have to make adjustments on the fly when Appalachian State visits on
Sept. 5 in the season opener at noon. The status of returning
Mountaineers quarterback Armanti Edwards remains undetermined after a
lawn mowing accident severely cut his right foot. The recovering Edwards
began limited throwing in practice this week.
ASU reportedly is working on a new
offensive wrinkle — a pistol set in which the quarterback takes the snap
in shotgun formation with a running back lined up behind him.
Brad Glenn, Apps quarterbacks coach,
told the Winston-Salem Journal that the set is limited at the moment.
"It's a real small package right now,"
Glenn said. "We've started out just wanting to look at it really, run
some inside zone with it, nothing else. It's kind of just an experiment
… but I think there are some things we can expand upon."
Get your designated driver
When ECU plays Memphis at the Liberty
Bowl on Oct. 27, there will be beer sales at the stadium. The Memphis
Commercial-Appeal has reported that the city of Memphis, which owns the
stadium, will add the sale of suds as a means of increasing needed
The stadium — which the city recently
spent $5 million to renovate — was projected to lose $261,000 in general
operating expenses, according to the newspaper. A Memphis official said
beer sales could net the city $200,000 to help offset the anticipated
It may also improve the postgame taxi
Holland on Hall's scope
ECU athletic director Terry Holland
deflects the credit for Sonny Randle's selection to the university's
athletic hall of fame. Randle won two Southern Conference championships
in three seasons as head coach of the Pirates. His limited tenure at ECU
didn't meet traditional requirements for admission but an exception was
"Those who played under Sonny felt
strongly that he was qualified to be admitted and argued their case to
the committee," Holland said in an e-mail response. "The committee and
the Board of Trustees agreed that a waiver procedure for certain
requirements was appropriate and the selection committee is still
considering whether or not to waive the requirement that HOF members
must have made their contribution as either a student or employee of
"Kay Yow (former N.C. State women's
basketball coach and a graduate of East Carolina) and many outstanding
high school coaches are excluded from the ECU Athletic HOF but can be
and are recognized by the Outstanding Alumnus and Top 100 Women At ECU
Awards (both honored Kay Yow) and high school coaches are recognized in
the high school HOF in the state where they are coaching. That
requirement is a tougher call and no recommendation has been forwarded
to the athletic administration or the Board."