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Tracking the College Gridiron Stars of the Future

Football Recruiting Report
Friday, October 28, 2005

By Sammy Batten


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Holtz regime targeting swiftness


East Carolina’s offensive schemes and strategies took a dramatic turn when Skip Holtz became head coach last January.

The shotgun replaced the “I’’ as the primary formation, throwing deep became an option on every down and a priority was placed on finding versatile, fast athletes to make those changes effective.

The latter may be one reason the Pirates have extended a number of scholarship offers to offensive skill-position players as they recruit for the Class of 2005.

Among those are three super-swift in-state athletes who would fit perfectly into Holtz’s offensive plans.

They include Norman Whitley from Richmond Senior High in Rockingham, Josh Adams from Cary and Greensboro Page’s Remene Alston.

Whitley, who is coached at Richmond by former ECU head coach Ed Emory, is a back in the mold of the Pirates’ all-time leading rusher and current running backs coach Junior Smith. Like Smith, Whitney isn’t the ideal height (5-foot-8), but he has extraordinary agility and is superbly conditioned. That combination of talents allows him to run away from defenders, or dig for extra yards when the going gets tough.

A first-year varsity starter at tailback last season, Whitney set school records with 2,666 yards and 33 touchdowns rushing. He’s followed that up with an outstanding start to 2005, running for 925 yards and nine touchdowns on 101 carries in Richmond’s first six games. Those totals include a 252-yard performance by Whitney against Broughton and a 200-yard effort versus Pinecrest.

East Carolina and North Carolina have extended offers to Whitney, who has 4.47 speed in the 40-yard dash. He likes those schools along with Clemson, Georgia, Ohio State, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

Emory said Whitley is expected to make an unofficial visit to Greenville this weekend for the Central Florida game.

Adams (5-11, 175, 4.5) had one of the best years of any back in the state in 2004 when he ran for 2,884 yards and scored 26 touchdowns for the Imps. He’s been blessed with excellent acceleration and a unique ability to change direction while at full speed.

Many of the nation’s top programs such as LSU and Oklahoma have offered, but ECU seems to be holding its own along with Maryland, North Carolina and N.C. State. Adams has already been to Greenville on at least one unofficial visit this year.

Alston is one of the state’s fastest backs, having been clocked at 4.39 in the 40 during Duke’s summer football camp. He runs with the smooth stride of a track star, which he is, and doubles as a dangerous kick returner.

The 5-8, 180-pounder piled up 1,426 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns as a junior, while also contributing 22 receptions for 303 yards and three scores. Alston appeared on his way to matching those rushing figures this season at the end of September, when he had already piled up 784 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Kentucky is Alston’s favorite, but ECU stands a strong second because, like the Wildcats, the Pirates want him as a running back. They’ve both offered along with N.C. State, which would like to convert him to defensive back.

A fourth in-state running back in ECU’s radar is Devven Sutton from Elizabeth City’s Northeastern High.

Sutton is a powerful (425 bench press), fast (4.6 40) athlete who projects at either fullback or linebacker in college. He compiled his most impressive statistics as a junior on defense where he made 112 tackles, three quarterback sacks and two interceptions.

But the 6-foot, 239-pounder is also adept at getting the tough yards or knocking holes in defensive fronts from the fullback spot.

Virginia Tech holds the upper hand for Sutton, and the Hokies have offered along with ECU. He also favors Ohio State, North Carolina and Penn State.

The Pirates have also ventured into the talent-rich Tidewater area of Virginia to offer 5-10, 179-pound Andre Boone from Cox High in Virginia Beach.

Boone piled up 1,155 yards and 11 touchdowns as a junior on 188 carries to earn all-district honors. He entered his senior season with 2,622 career yards and 25 touchdowns. A versatile athlete, Boone ran for a touchdown, caught a touchdown pass and returned a punt for a score in one game earlier this season against Green Run.

Marshall and Wake Forest lead the teams who have offered Boone, but Akron, ECU and Kent are also in the hunt.

Another back the Pirates have only recently gotten involved with is 6-1, 181-pound Kennard Reeves from Duluth, GA. East Carolina hasn’t offered Reeves yet, but he expects one to be forthcoming.

ECU and others like Boston College and Vanderbilt are still evaluating Reeves, who was a backup last year to a senior. He still showed great promise in averaging 7 yards per carry on about eight rushes per game. Reeves is best known for his breakaway speed. He’s been timed at 4.45 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

Wide receivers are also on Holtz’s wish list in recruiting. Two excellent ones already offered by the Pirates are Calvin Daniels from Washington, NC, and Kendall Williams from Godby High in Tallahassee, FL.

Daniels is a big receiver, who stands 6-3 and weighs in at 200 pounds. He could develop into a tight end at the college level.

Earlier this season in a game against Tarboro, Daniels grabbed nine catches for 123 yards and three touchdowns.

ECU is his only offer at this stage, but N.C. State and Virginia Tech have expressed interest.

Williams, a 5-11, 175-pounder, has super hands and a flair for making acrobatic catches. He made 44 receptions for 488 yards and four touchdowns as a junior.

Connecticut (Dec. 3 visit ) and Auburn (Dec. 14) are his early favorites, but ECU has offered along with Iowa, Louisville, Mississippi, Nebraska and West Virginia.

But the list of wide receiver offers doesn’t end there. The Pirates are also involved with highly touted LeMarcus Bond (5-10, 175, 4.4) from Ahoskie’s Hertford County High, Cedric Dickson (6-1, 215) from Stone Mountain, GA, Javon Brumsey (6-4, 188, 4.45) of Elizabeth City and Cedric Byrd (6-3, 185, 4.7) from Burlington.

Bond, who ran for 922 yards and had 394 receiving yards as a junior, is entertaining offers from Clemson, ECU, North Carolina, N.C. State, Virginia and Virginia Tech, while Byrd has bids from ECU, Georgia Tech and Louisville.

Brumsey, an all-state pick last season after making 64 catches for 1,098 yards and seven touchdowns, lists ECU as his only offer, but he also likes N.C. State.

Byrd is a superb athlete who has high jumped 6-foot-6 in state competition. He caught 32 passes for 499 yards and five scores as a junior. ECU has offered, but North Carolina, N.C. State and Wake Forest are also showing interest.

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02/23/2007 02:36:53 PM

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