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Tracking the Stars of the Future

Football Recruiting Report
Thursday, October 29, 2009

By Sammy Batten

Pirates find the mark on 'big target'

By Sammy Batten
All rights reserved.

Asheville High coach Danny Wilkins admired Trevor Sawyer from afar until this season. Wilkins has even more respect for the senior tight end now that he's played almost a full year with the Cougars.

“He was a really good player when he came over here, and now he's even better,'' said Wilkins, whose Asheville club is 7-0-1 and ranked fourth among the state's 3-A teams.

Sawyer is good enough to have earned a scholarship offer to play for the East Carolina Pirates. The 6-foot-6, 215-pounder decided to accept that offer on Monday, becoming the 13th member of the ECU recruiting Class of 2010.

Wilkins actually coached against Sawyer the previous two seasons. Sawyer began his prep football career at Wilkins' alma mater, Enka High School, a 3-A program in nearby Candler.

A two-year starter at Enka, Sawyer began both seasons as the team's starting tight end. But injuries forced him to shift to quarterback where he ran the spread-option offense. Despite rotating between positions, Sawyer still earned All-Mountain Athletic Conference honors as a junior.

But after Sawyer's junior season, Enka's head coach Dicky Williams resigned after two years on the job and a 4-18 record. Williams' departure, and his desire to play in a program where he'd receive more exposure to college recruiters, led Sawyer to transfer to Asheville last spring.

“He's lived in our district all along,'' Wilkins said. “But he'd been out there (at Enka) and they've had a constant carousel of coaches. So he and his family decided to leave and play in the district where he lives instead. We've been the beneficiary of that.

“He came over in January of this year and we had him in the weight room and all in spring. He worked out with us in the passing league and stuff this summer.''

Sawyer joined an Asheville team already featuring an established offensive star in senior quarterback Brandon Whiteside and a talented newcomer in sophomore running back Tysean Holloway. Because the Cougars run power I-formation, Sawyer isn't often the target of passes.

But Wilkins said Sawyer has improved tremendously as a blocker while still managing to make 17 catches for 346 yards and four touchdowns.

“We've got some other weapons and kids who can make plays on offense, so we don't lean on him,'' Wilkins said. “But when we do get it to him, he sure makes things happen. He's a nice, big target, he's got great, soft hands and he knows what to do with the ball after he catches it.

“I know they (ECU) were interested and wanted to see his blocking improve. We're still a power running team, so he's been called upon to block. It's been a good process for him and he's refined his skills as a blocker.''

It's as a receiver, however, that Wilkins said Sawyer shows his athleticism.

“Last Friday against our backyard neighbor, we faced a fourth-and-7 at about midfield,'' Wilkins said. “We sprinted one way and threw back to him on a tight end screen. He took it all the way to the 1-yard line before he was run out of bounds.

“We were playing (Asheville) Reynolds, a strong perennial 4-A power earlier this year. He caught a touchdown pass on a seam route where he split the corner and the safety and raced to the end zone from 30 yards out.

“He's made plays like that for us all year.''

East Carolina became the first school to offer soon after he arrived at Asheville. The Pirates had previously signed cornerback Rakheem Morgan from Asheville. Morgan is a red-shirt freshman this season at ECU.

Marshall and Western Carolina also offered Sawyer scholarships. But the lure of playing for the Pirates was too strong.

“I have no doubt he'll eventually be a standout player for (ECU),'' Wilkins said. “East Carolina's got a good track record under Coach (Skip) Holtz using the tight end position. He and his family visited there last spring and really liked the place a lot. They felt it would be the best fit for him, and they're all excited.''

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10/28/2009 11:52:49 PM


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