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The Bradsher Beat
Wednesday, April 5, 2006

By Bethany Bradsher

Multitasking no problem for Jerek Hewett


Jerek Hewett admits that he doesn’t like to sit still. But last weekend, he took that personal trait to an extreme when he competed in two Pirate sports in less than 24 hours in two states nearly 600 miles apart.

Jerek Hewett's busy agenda includes academics, football and indoor and outdoor track.

Photo: ECU SID

He started with the football spring scrimmage, in which he competed in the defensive backfield. After the game he stayed awake all night, and early the next morning caught a ride to the Kinston airport with the wife of one of the track coaches. There he boarded a plane to Atlanta.

In Atlanta, his next flight was delayed, so he waited more than two hours at the gate before flying to Gainesville, FL. At the Gainesville airport he changed into his running clothes and stepped outside the terminal, where he spotted a cab pulling away from the curb. He called the number on the side of the car from his cell phone and asked the cabbie to come back for him.

Hewett, who had competed at the University of Florida before during the indoor season, directed the cab driver to the track, and he arrived at the Diet Pepsi Classic about fifteen minutes before his 4X100 relay race, much to the relief of longtime ECU track coach Bill Carson.

“He was about to freak out,” Hewett said of Carson. “He was calling me on the phone saying, ‘Where are you at?’ And I was like, ‘I’m in Florida.’ ”

The most remarkable part of Hewett’s journey came when the starter’s gun sounded and he and his relay teammates ran fast enough to qualify for NCAA Regionals. Their time of 40.20 was fast enough to place third in the meet.

Hewett, a sophomore from Shallotte, came to East Carolina with plans to participate in both track and football, and his plan was supported by head football coach Skip Holtz under one condition — that he keep his grades up.

“I’m all for an athlete playing two sports, as long as he can maintain his academics,” Holtz said. “He’s been here for everything. He’s been great. I know he’s juggling a lot of things right now. As long as he stays on top of his academics, I think it does nothing but help his exposure for the school.”

“I can’t sit in one spot,” Hewett said. “My junior year in high school, I played five sports. If I sit around, I would be so bored, I don’t know what I would do.”

Even with learning a new position — he was a wide receiver last season and is now listed as a cornerback — Hewett is already showing the promise that Holtz thinks will only intensify as he gains age and experience.

“He has a chance to be a star,” Holtz said. “I really think he has a chance to be a special player because of the skills that he has. He’s just young right now.”

Pieces falling into place

With his second round of spring practice nearly behind him, Holtz took a moment Monday to assess the young men on whom the hopes for a winning 2006 season have been pinned.

It’s impossible to make a comparison between now and this time last spring, Holtz said, because the Pirate players have such a superior grasp of the system and of their prospective roles in it. A prime example is senior quarterback James Pinkney, who missed spring workouts in 2005 and had to play catch-up during the preseason.

“There are a lot of pieces that still have to be put together,” Holtz said. “The one thing where we’re ahead of last year is that we’ve got a great nucleus returning.

“I think James, this has been really good for him, because he’s really starting to understand the offense now and how all the little pieces of it fit. There are so many positives in the spring right now.”

A few more highlights from Holtz’s spring progress report:

  • Before spring practice began, the position that Holtz seemed to be most concerned about was center. After watching him during the recent workouts, Holtz said the starting job right now seems to belong to Thomas Wingenbach, a senior from Winchester, VA.

  • Look at the linebacker corps for new faces when the season opens on Sept. 2. Some of the players that have made impressions during spring practice are junior Quentin Cotton and freshman Jeremy Chambless, neither of which played much last season, and junior college transfers Fred Wilson, Danny Muhwezi and Nweike Osemene. “Overall, on defense, I feel like we have some depth,” Holtz said. “We have some competition. We’ve got some guys that have played, we’ve got some maturity and experience.”

  • A former backup quarterback, Davon Drew, is shaping up to be that type of tight end that can add spark to an offense. Drew is making great progress in the receiving area and is working on his blocking as well, Holtz said.

  • Sophomore Brett Clay has emerged as the number two quarterback behind senior James Pinkney. Clay is benefiting from the increased number of reps he has been receiving lately, Holtz said, and he is showing that he could have the tools to direct the Pirate offense one day. “I think he’s smart,” Holtz said. “He’s got talent, mechanics, but he’s accurate with the ball. He’s understanding it, but I don’t think he’s ready to sit in the well and throw the ball 40 times a game.”

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02/23/2007 01:12:58 AM

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