TAKE ON PIRATE SPORTS
October 19, 2010
"CK" makes a
lasting first impression
All rights reserved.
Coach Ruffin McNeill says
the guys call him “Mags.”
Ruff calls him a “CK.”
That’s “coach’s kid” for the uninitiated.
East Carolina fans
probably knew very little about true freshman Damon Magazu until
Saturday. That’s until “Mags” cut in front of a Wolfpack receiver to
intercept N.C. State quarterback Russell Wilson in overtime to preserve
East Carolina’s 33-27 win.
Magazu comes from a true
football family. He is the son of Carolina Panthers offensive line coach
Dave Magazu. His two older brothers are both in football. Anthony is a
quarterback at Kent State while Dominick is a wide receiver at
Dad doesn’t get to see his
sons play nearly as much as he would like because of his duties with the
Panthers. Carolina had a bye week this week, so he did get the chance to
be a part of the interception.
“I’m really close to my
Dad,” Magazu told reporters after the game. “It meant a lot that he
could be here for this. He just said that he loved me and that he was
happy for me.”
Seconds after the
interception I was in the end zone, trying to grab a quick interview for
television. Damon Magazu had just made what could have been the play of
his entire career. His comment told me a lot about the young man’s
“I’m just glad we were
able to beat N.C. State,” he said. “And I just want to go celebrate with
It was short and sweet but
it spoke volumes.
Later in the interview
room Magazu was able to talk about the interception. Again, his
commitment to the team was quite evident.
“Our defensive line got
pressure,” he explained. “We did a good job on the outside of riding the
receiver and I really just did what I was coached to do.”
When asked about the
specific coverage, Magazu smiled and said, “It’s a little more
complicated, but I don’t want to give away all of our secrets.”
Damon Magazu got his first
ever start because Derek Blacknall had to sit out a game after he was
suspended by Conference USA.
Coach Ruff said he had all
of the confidence in the world in his true freshman safety.
“Mags has been working
with NFL guys for years,” said McNeill. “He was not intimidated by the
moment at all.”
A record crowd of 50,410
was treated to a great day of color and pageantry, of thrills and
spills, of disappointment and elation all wrapped around 60 minutes plus
overtime in a football game.
“The rivalry speaks for
itself,” added Coach Ruff, shortly after he had danced in front of the
Pirate faithful during the postgame celebration. “It’s a typical
fistfight and it’s going to go down to the wire. Today, the Pirate
Nation came out on top."
East Carolina isn’t having
the year that Boise State or Texas Christian is having. But if there was
a better “BCS” atmosphere on Saturday or any other week this year at the
home of a “non-BCS” program, I would like to see it.
The Pirate Nation
certainly rose to the occasion this past week, as did Ruffin McNeill’s
Now it’s back to
Conference USA, and Ruffin’s Pirates have their sights set on a third
consecutive conference championship.
“We’ve just got to keep
improving,” said McNeill.
The Pirates have shown
marked improvement with each outing.
Their role changes this week when the team will be favored for the first
time since the Memphis game in week two.
It’s Homecoming this week,
and that should serve as yet another source of pride for one former ECU
defensive back who has certainly already laid out his footprint on the
Pirate football program.
E-mail Brian Bailey.
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10/19/2010 03:16 AM