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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, October 19, 2010

By Brian Bailey

"CK" makes a lasting first impression

By Brian Bailey
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 Appalachian State.

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 character.

“I’m just glad we were able to beat N.C. State,” he said. “And I just want to go celebrate with my teammates.”

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 football team.

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.

Brian Bailey Archives

10/19/2010 03:16 AM


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