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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, February 1, 2010

By Brian Bailey

Ruff on recovery trail

Ruffin McNeill
(ECU SID image)


Replay Monday night's Brian Bailey Show with guests RONALD VINCENT., DR. JIMMY GRIMSLEY and CHUCK HUMPHREY discussing the Hot Stove League Banquet. Eastern North Carolina's longest running sports radio call-in show airs each Monday night at 7 p.m. on Pirate Radio 1250 and 930.
Replay Show
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Ruff on recovery trail
Pirates ride rapid rally to victory over Cougars
Late recruit poised for early impact
Pirates becoming road warriors
Key threes turn the tide for Golden Eagles
ECU football family getting Bigger
Coming soon: Physical makeover for Pirates
Battle-tested 'drill sergeant' back in town

Flashback: Read Ron Cherubini's Pirate Time Machine feature on Jeff Connors from the 2003 Bonesville Archives.

By Brian Bailey
All rights reserved.

At first glance, he’s the same old Coach Ruff — he’s the same old Coach Ruff minus several pounds and feeling much better already.

Medical procedures are very personal and in my interview this week with Coach Ruffin McNeill I only had him answer what he was comfortable answering.

“I’m comfortable about it all,” said McNeill, sitting in his office. “I have nothing to be ashamed of. I wanted to do it for my health, for my family and to be able to do my job at a high level. The surgery went great. Dr. William Chapman is one of the top surgeons in the country. That’s the first part of the plan.”

The bariatric surgery is the first step. The first part of the weight loss will come next. Then, it’s hip replacement surgery just after the end of the spring football season.

Many have wondered how a former athlete like Ruffin McNeill could end up needing the type of medical help that he is getting. McNeill says once the hip started to deteriorate the weight started coming on.

“I’ve always been a workout guy,” he said. “I worked out at a very high rate, six days a week. But when the hip went down on me, the hip started deteriorating, I couldn’t work out like I wanted to and like I needed to.

I enjoyed (working out). My goal is to get back to do that at a full pace. There is time off right now for me to recover from this first surgery. But I’ll be working out soon.”

The national signing day is set for this Wednesday. McNeill is excited about his class, and credits the work of his staff for helping him to get through this busy time of the year.

“It will be a big day,” said McNeill with a big smile on his face. “I’m very excited. Everybody (staff and coaches) has done a great job of doubling up. The parents of our recruits understand what I’m doing and why I’m doing it.”

McNeill says teams win championships with offensive and defensive lineman. Those lineman were a priority in this recruiting class.

“We knew there were some areas on defense that we needed to shore up, our front seven in particular," he said. "On offense we have hit every skill position. There is a quarterback in place as well as receivers and running backs.

"On defense the linebacker position is one we wanted to take to another level talent-wise. We have hit all spots and so we are excited about signing day.”

Coach McNeill knows he has a team of good people in his corner. From doctors and nurses, to his coaching staff and his secretaries, everyone wants to see him succeed in this venture of a healthy lifestyle.

His wife, Erlene, is the captain of the squad. She recently had knee surgery, so team McNeill is now in recovery.

Coach McNeill says he’s gotten hundreds of cards and emails, and he thanks everyone for all of their support.

“When I was growing up we always had to go to Duke for certain things,” he explained. “Nothing against Duke, it’s a great facility. But coming back to Greenville has been a blessing. Everything that’s been done has been done right here. The hospital staffs have been fantastic. The nurses have been great. The team of doctors is at the top of their professions.

"It’s a blessing to be here and have things go as smoothly as they’ve gone.”

He’ll soon be a lean, mean, coaching machine.


E-mail Brian Bailey.

Brian Bailey Archives

02/01/2011 03:14 AM


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