Once upon a time, Travis Melvin was
considered too big for football.
“I played rec basketball when I was a kid, but they had weight limits in
football and I was too big,’’ Melvin said. “So I didn’t start until I
got to Mac Williams (middle school).’’
Melvin's size — he stands 6-foot-7 and
weighs in at 265 pounds — is a coveted commodity these days, especially
by the East Carolina Pirates.
Melvin, from Cape Fear High School in
Fayetteville, became one of the latest prep players to make a verbal
commitment to ECU right before the Christmas holiday. The Pirates had
offered Melvin near the end of his junior season at Cape Fear where he’s
been a two-year starter at offensive tackle.
Catawba, an NCAA Division I-AA program,
was the only other school to offer Melvin a scholarship. But major
colleges such as South Carolina, Virginia and Virginia Tech had shown
ECU saw something in Melvin that made
him an early priority for head coach Skip Holtz and assistant Junior
Smith, who was in charge of recruiting Melvin.
“They liked him right away because of
his frame and the way he moved on his junior film,’’ Cape Fear coach
Mark Heil said. “He moves very, very well for somebody 6-7 and 265
pounds. He is not a fat kid at all. He’s lean. He’s a nice, lean-looking
kid who could put on 30 pounds of muscle in a year-and-a-half easily.’’
Melvin comes by his athleticism
His father, Keith Melvin, played football and basketball in high school,
while older brother Rodney Melvin was a basketball star at Cape Fear and
went on to play collegiately at UNC-Pembroke and Greensboro College.
Melvin was born in Columbia, SC, but
also spent time living in Germany and Augusta, GA, because his father
served in the U.S. Army. The family moved to Fayetteville about 11 years
ago when the elder Melvin was assigned to Fort Bragg. Frank Melvin is
Travis Melvin couldn’t play recreation
football when he was young, but it didn’t stop him from enjoying the
“I studied the game on TV and watched
every little thing,’’ Melvin said. “I think that helped me progress
faster once I was able to start playing organized football in middle
“Plus, I had been playing basketball
all along and I think that helped me develop my speed, agility and
Still, Melvin had some maturing to do
once he reached Cape Fear. He played on the junior varsity as a
freshman, but sat out his sophomore season.
“He got into trouble at the end of his
freshman year and skipped his sophomore season,’’ Heil said. “But he
comes from a really great family and like all kids, he just made a
mistake. He realized his mistake and turned himself around.
“He’s so smart. He saw where his bread
was buttered and went after it hard in the weight room and displayed a
great attitude. This was his goal. He wanted to get better in football
and he wanted to got to a Division I school.’’
Melvin’s quest encountered a hurdle
this season when he suffered a broken foot in late October. The injury
occurred in practice during a tackling drill when a teammate fell on his
The injury required a surgery in which
screws and a metal plate were inserted to mend the break. Melvin has
been in a walking boot since, but is expecting to start rehab on Jan.
Melvin’s injury is one reason the ECU
staff has told Heil they expect to red-shirt him as a true freshman.
Another reason for red-shirting Melvin is the fact the Pirates plan to
move him to the defensive line.
“It was somewhat of a surprise when the
East Carolina coaches started talking to me about playing defensive
line,’’ Melvin said. “I’ve always played offense, so I just figured
they’d want me at the position I’d been playing. But football is
football. I just love the game. I’ll do whatever they want me to do.’’
Despite the injury, Melvin still
managed to earn a spot on the All-Two Rivers 4-A Conference and All-Cape
Fear region teams as a senior.
Melvin is scheduled to make his
official recruiting visit to Greenville this weekend, and he’s looking
forward to the trip.
“I’ve been there for football camp and
for their junior day, but this is my first chance to really look around
the campus,’’ Melvin said. “I’m hoping to enroll in July for summer
school, so I need to learn my way around. I’m excited about becoming a
Melvin isn’t the only recruiting
additions ECU made over the holidays.
The Pirates also added three prospects
during the junior college signing period in December who are scheduled
to be enrolled this semester.
One of those is linebacker Fred Wilson
from Georgia Military Academy,
The others are Andrew Farr, a 6-4,
280-pound offensive lineman from Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia
and linebacker Danny Muhwezi, a 6-3, 235-pounder from Lackawana Junior
College in Scranton, PA. [View
thumbnail sketches of 2006 recruits]
While it is a general belief you can’t
build a program on junior college recruits, it was a shrewd move by
Holtz to dip into those ranks to help fill some immediate needs on his
Wilson and Muhwezi figures to make
immediate impacts at linebacker this spring where graduation claimed
starters in Richard Koonce and Chris Moore, as well as top reserve Josh
Farr, too, should contend for playing
time on an offensive front that loses three starters to graduation.