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Tracking the College Gridiron Stars of the Future

Football Recruiting Report
Friday, February 11, 2005

By Sammy Batten

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Report Card: Recruiting recovery underway


When it comes to fast-break football recruiting, East Carolina’s new coaching staff can score with the best of them.

Left with about a month-and-a-half to do a year’s worth of recruiting after Skip Holtz was named to replace John Thompson in December, the Pirates produced a recruiting class that achieved several vital objectives.

Number one on that list was re-establishing ECU on the recruiting scene in North Carolina. After two years in which Thompson signed just 11 in-state players among his 49 recruits, Holtz’s staff secured 14 locals in its 24-man inaugural class.

Assistants Junior Smith and Donnie Thompson, whose pre-existing ties to the North Carolina helped the Pirates gain immediate acceptance from high school coaches, spearheaded the in-state success.

Smith, ECU’s all-time leading rusher, was a high school star in the talent-rich Fayetteville area, while Thompson had been a highly successful in-state recruiter for Mack Brown’s staff at North Carolina during the 1990s.

Interestingly, the Pirates’ in-state haul wasn’t limited to the Eastern part of the state. Six of the in-state signees hail from the western part of North Carolina, including five from the Charlotte area that annually produces the most NCAA Division I-A players in the state.

New wide receivers coach Donnie Kirkpatrick played the lead role in those Piedmont signings. Kirkpatrick had previously worked that area as an assistant at Western Carolina.

East Carolina also met some immediate needs with the recruiting class, signing players at tailback, wide receiver and placekicker who are likely to challenge for playing time next fall as well as bolstering a severely depleted quarterback position.

The Pirates also landed five players with excellent size and potential on the offensive line, which was an area of glaring weakness in Greenville last season.

The class wasn’t perfect, however. Far from it.

None of the ECU signees was ranked by the national analysts and most of the attention they received during recruiting was from smaller NCAA Division I-A or I-AA programs. Defensive needs, while not ignored by Holtz, weren’t totally fulfilled, especially at linebacker and cornerback.

But as they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day. The new staff deserves a thumbs-up for a job well done, especially considering the time restraints they were working under.

Here’s a position-by-position breakdown of ECU’s recruiting Class of 2005. Listed below are the scholarship players at each position on the Pirates’ spring football roster, the players that were signed this year, a brief analysis of those signees and a projection of the needs for 2006.


On the roster: Devon Drew (R-Fresh.), Patrick Pinkney (R-Fresh.).

The newcomers: Brett Clay, 6-2, 190, Robinson HS, Concord, N.C.; Terrell Hudgins, 6-2, 206, Rocky Mount HS, Rocky Mount, N.C.; Rob Kass, 6-4, 243, Lake Highland HS, Longwood, Fla.

The lowdown: Quarterback became a serious area of need after last year’s starter James Pinkney dropped out of school for the spring semester. The Pirates did an impressive job restocking the position. The prize of the trio is a David Garrard-built, drop-back passer in Kass. Kass’ powerful arm, quick release and football savvy could make him a player in the quarterback race next fall, although it’s a stretch to believe he could step in and win the starting job. Hudgins is a fabulous athlete who brings a winning background and versatility to the quarterback spot. If things don’t out for Hudgins on offense, he’d make a stellar outside linebacker on defense. Clay is the wild card of the group. A knee injury sidelined him as a junior and limited his recruitment. But Clay has a strong arm and a knack for deliverving in the clutch.

Next time around: A lot depends on whether James Pinkney is able to return next fall. If Pinkney is back, the three incoming freshmen can be red-shirted and signing a quarterback probably won’t be a priority. But if Pinkney doesn’t return, we expect Kass to work his way onto the depth chart. Such a scenario, and any position change by Hudgins, would make it necessary for ECU to sign at least one quarterback in 2006.


On the roster: Robert Tillman (Jr.), Chris Johnson (Soph.).

The newcomers: Brandon Fractious, 5-9, 180, Chaffey Junior College, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.; Dominique Lindsay, 5-10, 198, Independence HS, Charlotte, N.C.; Ahmad Mayo, 5-8, 206, Griffin HS, Griffin, Ga.

The lowdown: Fractious is a big-play back whose super 4.35-second speed in the 40-yard dash should help him make an immediate impact at ECU. He should challenge Johnson and Tillman for playing time at tailback, but at the very least will be a factor on special teams as a kick returner. Lindsay developed excellent pass-catching skills playing in the pro-style attack at Independence, which won three straight state 4-A titles during his career. Mayo is a compact, powerful runner in the mold of ECU assistant coach Junior Smith, the school’s all-time leading rusher. If the staff were getting graded on this class, they’d get an A+ for this position.

Next time around: It’s always a good practice to bring in at least one tailback, but with Fractious and Tillman checking out in two years signing two would be a good idea in ’06.


On the roster: Jermarcus Veal (Sr.), Kort Shankweiler (Jr.).

The newcomers: None.

The lowdown: With the Pirates probably headed to a one-back set under Holtz, recruiting a fullback probably wasn’t a priority. But even with the one-back becoming ECU’s main formation, there is still a need for a hulking, hole-clearing fullback for short-yardage and goal-line situations. They didn’t find that in this class.

Next time around: If there’s a good one who wants to come, take him. But otherwise Holtz could probably fill the limited role with an oversized tailback or an athletic linebacker already in the program.


On the roster: Josh Coffman (Jr.), Shawn Levesque (Sr.).

The newcomers: None.

The lowdown: ECU didn’t sign any pure tight ends, which would have been a problem if some members of the class didn’t have the potential to make an impact there in the future. Wide receiver Alex Taylor, at 6-foot-4, has the frame to make the switch, but will need at least two years to add the size necessary to be effective at tight end. Defensive back C.J. Wilson, also 6-4, fits the mold as well. So the Pirates didn’t strike out, but they did fall behind the count.

Next time around: Signing at least two tight ends should be a priority in next year’s class. The Pirates will be looking for guys with good hands who can contribute in the passing game.


On the roster: Bobby Good (Jr.), Travis Williams (Soph.), Kevin Roach (Jr.), Juwon Crowell (Soph.), Steven Rogers (Soph.), Bryson Bowling (Sr.), Will Bland (Jr.) Brian Howard (Jr.), Iverick Harris (Jr.).

The newcomers: Aundrae Allison, 6-0, 186, Georgia Military Academy, Kannapolis, N.C.; Kyle Johnson, 6-2, 192, Hopewell HS, Charlotte, N.C.; Alex Taylor, 6-4, 193, Southwest Guilford HS, Greensboro, N.C.

The lowdown: Although it wasn’t a major area of need for ECU, the staff did a superb job in recruiting receivers. Allison, a junior college transfer, is already enrolled and will begin competing for playing time in spring practice. Johnson is a speedy receiver who can turn short passes into big plays, while Taylor is raw talent with super potential. Taylor is a big, fast target who has played just one season of high school football. All three were excellent acquisitions for the Pirates.

Next time around: ECU has plenty of talent at receiver in the program, so the need won’t be great next year. But with the importance receivers are expected to play in Holtz’s offense, signing one or even two every year is probably to be expected.


On the roster: (Center) Hunter Wood, Sr. (Guard) Lance Neisz (Jr.), Trey Magee (Sr.), Gary Freeman (Sr.), Zach Davis (R-Fresh.), Matt Butler (Soph.), Drew Sutton (Jr.), Virgil Black (Soph.).

The newcomers: (Center) None. (Guard) Jonathan Battle, 6-2, 301, Lovejoy HS, Lovejoy, Ga.; Bryan Gibson, 6-3, 259, Fairfield HS, Fairfield, Ohio; Larry Lease, 6-2, 257, North Fort Myers HS, North Fort Myers, Fla. (Tackle) Terence Campbell, 6-5, 309, Purnell Swett HS, Maxton, N.C.; Stephen Heis, 6-5, 258, Anderson HS, Cincinnati, Ohio.

The lowdown: The ECU staff may have gotten its best results in this area, although we won’t know for sure for another two years at least because offensive linemen tend to develop slower than other positions. Although none of the signees are expected to make an impact next fall, all of them have excellent potential. The big catch was Terence Campbell from Maxton, N.C. Campbell is bright, big and only needs to gain some strength to be ready for action.

Next time around: Unless someone in the current class turns out to be a center, ECU will need to find at least two players at that position in its next class. You always need to get four to five guys at these positions in every class.


On the roster: Richard Koonce (Sr.), Dontre Brown (Jr.), Wendell Chavis (Soph.), Lorenza Pickett (Sr.), Wes Hofacker (Soph.), Shauntae Hunt (Sr.), Steve Belford (R-Fresh.), Mike Horner (Soph.), Nick Moghaddarn (Sr.), Michael MacDonough (Jr.), Fred Hicks (Soph.), Mark Robinson (Soph.), Zach Slate (Soph.).

The newcomers: Johnnie McCoy, 6-3, 215, Seventy-First HS, Fayetteville, N.C.; Jay Ross, 6-3, 267, New Hanover HS, Wilmington, N.C.

The lowdown: The Pirates weren’t desperate for help in the defensive line department because it’s one area the previous staff stocked quite well. So Holtz probably exceeded expectations in this area by adding McCoy, a relentless defender who will need to add size, and a pass-rushing specialist in Ross. Neither will be needed next fall, but they’re good pickups anyway. An X-factor on the defensive line could be 6-5, 311-pound Brandon Setzer from Thomasville, N.C. Setzer was a Shrine Bowl All-Star and one of the state’s most highly recruited players two years ago. He committed to N.C. State, but didn’t qualify and wound up enrolling at ECU after a stint at Hargrave Military Academy. Setzer is an impact athlete and potentially one of the best down linemen to enroll in Greenville in years. Also a possible impact newcomer at end if he’s eligible will be Marcus Hands, a 6-5, 260-pounder from Wilmington. Like Setzer, Hands was rated one of the state’s top prospects as a senior, but was sidetracked by academic issues.

Next time around: ECU should grab any good ones they can find. Despite the strong numbers on the defensive front there is still plenty of room for improvement. Two to three additions would be in order.


On the roster: Jamar Flournoy (Sr.), Pierre Parker (Soph.), Patrick Dosh (Jr.), Pierre Bell (R-Fresh.), Chris Moore (Sr.), Dashaun Stephens (Sr.), Durwin Lamb (Soph.), Jarrett Wiggins (R-Fresh.).

The newcomers: Scotty Robinson, 6-4, 205, Salisbury HS, Salisbury, N.C.

The lowdown: On the surface, the Pirates fell short at recruiting this position. Robinson, a rangy athlete who could grow into a defensive end, was a nice pickup. But ECU needed some immediate help at linebacker and didn’t get it. If Prop 48 case Quinten Cotton from High Point, N.C., is eligible, it will help. Cotton is 6-4, fast and physical. He was one of the state’s top prospects two years ago. There are also other players in the class, like Hudgins or safeties Jeremy Chambliss and Van Eskeridge, who might end up at linebacker, which would change the perception of what ECU achieved at the position in recruiting.

Next time around: If ECU is going to change it’s personality on defense, it will need to sign two or three physical, fearless linebackers next year to make it happen.


On the roster: Kyle Chase (Jr.), Mickey McCoy (Sr.), Zack Baker (Sr.), Kasey Ross (Jr.).

The newcomers: Jeremy Chambliss, 6-0, 200, Douglass HS, Tyrone, Ga.; Van Eskeridge, 6-0, 197, Shelby HS, Shelby, N.C.; Chris Mattocks, 6-0, 191, New Bern HS, New Bern, N.C.; C.J. Wilson, 6-4, 218, Northside HS, Belhaven, N.C.

The lowdown: All three athletes signed at his position by the Pirates hit like linebackers. In fact, they may all wind up at linebacker before their ECU careers over finished. Mattocks, who was overlooked by many schools because he suffered a knee injury as a sophomore, should prove to be a real steal. As an underclassman, he was considered the equal to New Bern teammate and Tennessee signee Montario Hardesty.

Next time around: At least two or three are needed simply because all four currently in the program will be gone in two years.


In the program: Demetrius Hodges (Sr.), Markeith McQueen (Sr.), Erode Jean (Jr.), Stacy Walls (R-Fresh.).

The newcomers: Jerek Hewett, 5-11, 184, West Brunswick HS, Shallotte, N.C.

The lowdown: The Pirates missed the boat at cornerback, where they could have used an influx of speed. Hewett was a multi-purpose player in high school who could develop into a quality corner in time. Another Prop 48 case, J.J. Millbrook, who signed with the Pirates last year, will help offset the lack of help here if he’s academically eligible.

Next time around: This will probably be ECU’s No. 1 priority in its next recruiting class. Three of the four currently in the program will graduate in two years, so grabbing four or even five corners in next year’s class wouldn’t be overdoing it.


On the roster: Ryan Dougherty, P (Jr.).

The newcomers: Robert Lee, PK, 5-11, 213, Trinity Valley Community College, Longview, Texas.

The lowdown: ECU was without a scholarship placekicker, so snaring Lee was essential in this class. He was one of the top junior college placekickers in the nation and should step right in as the Pirates’ starter next fall.

Next time around: It wouldn’t hurt to add a kicker or a punter to red-shirt and groom as the replacement for Dougherty or Lee in two years.

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02/23/2007 02:36:45 PM

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