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Tracking the College Gridiron Stars of the Future

Football Recruiting Report
Friday, January 14, 2005

By Sammy Batten

Holtz' first catch just the ticket for Pirates


Bonesville Magazine

• PAT DYE: Short on Tenure, Long on Impact

• Recruit Profiles
• Rookie Books
• Tracking the Classes
• Florida Pipeline
• NCHSAA & ECU: Smooth Sailing Again


• STEVE BALLARD: New Leader Takes Charge

• SCOTT COWEN: Busting Down the Door

• KEITH LECLAIR on ECU's Field of Dreams

• BETH GRANT: Actress Still a Pirate


Whether viewed symbolically or by degree of necessity, the first football recruit secured by Skip Holtz for East Carolina is undoubtedly significant.

ECU’s new head coach built on a connection he made while still an assistant at South Carolina to convince Orlando, FL, quarterback Rob Kass to give the Pirates a verbal commitment during an official visit last weekend in Greenville. Kass is the first recruit to make a pledge to ECU since Holtz replaced John Thompson in early December.

Kass is a 6-foot-5, 228-pound dropback quarterback who played as a senior at Lake Highland Prep School in Orlando, Fla. He completed 55 of 100 passes for 1,300 yards and 10 touchdowns for a 2-7 squad, and also added more than 300 yards rushing and five more scores.

The previous two seasons, Kass was the starting quarterback at Lake Mary High School, where he threw for 1,340 yards and nine touchdowns as a junior.

“I transferred at the end of the semester because we lost 44 seniors on that (Lake Mary) team and it was going to be a complete rebuilding year,’’ Kass said. “I just felt like (Lake Highland’s) Coach (Tim) Borcky was just the guy to help me get to the next level.’’

Kass spent the summer prior to his senior season on the road, traveling with his father Dave to various college campuses for football camps. The Kass’ hit 11 camps in all, including one in Columbia, SC, where Holtz was then still an assistant for his legendary father, Lou, at the University of South Carolina.

During that visit, Rob Kass was impressed with Holtz and former Gamecocks’ quarterback Phil Petty, who is now ECU’s quarterbacks coach. Petty is also the assistant who was in charge of Kass's recruitment for the Pirates.

“I worked there for four or five days and I established a great relationship with them,’’ Kass said. “I really would have committed to South Carolina if they had offered me at the time. That’s how much I liked them.’’

Schools such as Cincinnati, Florida Atlantic, Charleston Southern, Mississippi and Pittsburgh did offer, but the Gamecocks never extended a scholarship. When the elder Holtz decided to retire at the end of the season, Kass shifted his focus to other schools.

Skip Holtz quickly resurfaced as the head coach at ECU and Kass was immediately interested in the Pirates.

“I knew a little about the school,’’ Kass said. “I knew they were a Division I-A school and played in Conference USA, but that was about it. As soon as I found out Coach Holtz was hired, I started doing some major research (on ECU).’’

Kass already knew something about college football in North Carolina. His father was a quarterback at Wake Forest where he played under John Mackovic before finishing his career at New Hampshire.

In fact, four generations of Kass men have been college quarterbacks. Those include his grandfather, who played at Hofstra, and younger brother Brian, a rising ninth grader who is expected to replace Rob as the starter at Lake Highland Prep next fall.

Kass and his father traveled to Greenville for an official look at ECU last weekend. At the end of the visit, Holtz offered Kass a scholarship.

“The campus itself was absolutely beautiful,’’ Kass raved. “The buildings, the football facilities, the academics ... it was all just amazing. The campus isn’t too large and the people there are incredible. I loved everything about it.

“At the end of the weekend on Sunday, I had a meeting with Coach Holtz. He said, ‘Rob, how did you feel about it (visit)?’ I told him I loved everything about the program. He asked if I wanted to end the recruiting process and join the ECU program. I said, ‘Yes sir, I am.’

“He jumped up and I jumped up. We shook hands and gave each other a big hug. I’m definitely excited to be the first player to commit to the new staff.’’

The Kass commitment is significant for several reasons.

First, last week’s news that starting quarterback James Pinkney has left school due to academic problems left ECU dangerously thin and inexperience at that position.

The Pirates have only two scholarship players listed as quarterbacks on their roster in red-shirt freshmen Patrick Pinkney and Devon Drew. Patrick Pinkney is recovering from shoulder surgery and his status for spring practice is uncertain.

Second, Holtz is expected to run a pass-oriented offense using multiple-receiver sets.

“They’re going to be doing stuff I feel I’m good at,’’ Kass said. “They’ll line up three or four receivers in the shotgun, you’ll read the defense and be throwing the bubble screens and hot routes. That suits my style. I’m a dropback-style quarterback. I love to sit in the pocket, let the big guys block for me and let the speedy receivers get down the field.’’

The opportunity to compete for playing time next fall was another drawing card for Kass.

“It’s a perfect place for me,’’ Kass said. “I know there’s going to be competition. But with the starter from last year having academic trouble and the back-up coming off a shoulder injury, I felt like there was a tremendous opportunity for me to step in and play.’’

Kass will reunite at ECU with a neighborhood friend in wide receiver Bobby Good. Good also attended Lake Highland Prep.

“He just lives down the street from me,’’ Kass said.

Kass is the first, but he may not be the last quarterback the Pirates get in recruiting. At least two other prep quarterbacks have official visits scheduled to ECU in the coming weeks.

Bodie Reeder, a 6-foot, 210-pounder from Mahomet, Ill., is expected to be in Greenville this weekend. Reeder is a two-sport athlete, who also plans to play baseball in college.

Holtz was also recruiting Reeder for South Carolina.

Reeder is also considering Western Michigan and Southern Miss.

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02/23/2007 02:36:39 PM

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