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Tracking the Stars of the Future

Football Recruiting Report
Thursday, January 6, 2011

By Sammy Batten

D-line recruiting push snares Foxx

By Sammy Batten
All rights reserved.

William Foxx was once told he was too big to play football. But these days it's his size — Foxx stands 6-foot-2 and weighs in about 300 pounds — that has the coaching staff at East Carolina believing he'll make a good addition to their defensive line corps in 2011.

Foxx became the most recent recruiting target to give the Pirates a verbal commitment in early December. The Greensboro, NC, resident chose ECU over offers from Appalachian State, N.C. A&T and Wisconsin.

Plenty of other schools, like Georgia Tech, Maryland and Penn State, were showing interest. But a broken leg suffered in the opening game of Foxx's senior season at Oak Ridge Military Academy left those programs hesitant to pull the trigger on an offer.

Not so at ECU, where depth on the defensive front was a major issue throughout the 2010 season for first-year head coach Ruffin McNeill and his staff. The Pirates were so thin at the defensive end position that they moved linebackers like Justin Dixon and Marke Powell there to bolster the position. Both Dixon and Powell ended up with season-ending injuries that caused even more shuffling along the front as the year unfolded.

The situation has made landing some sizable prospects like Foxx a priority for ECU's recruiting Class of 2011.

But being a big guy hasn't always been a blessing for Foxx, whose early years were spent on Long Island in Hempstead, NY, where most of his family was devoted to basketball.

“My father and my uncles all love basketball,'' Foxx said. “But I used to watch the (New York) Jets when I was younger. My grandparents would take me to games and to watch their practices. So, naturally, I wanted to play. But when I went to the local rec center to sign up, they said I couldn't play because I was over the weight limit.''

The family moved South to Greensboro when Foxx was eight, but it would be a few more years before he'd get an opportunity to play football. Finally, when he reached age 10, Foxx was allowed to try out for the middle school squad.

The frustration of not being allowed to play all those years came out of Foxx in those early practices and games.

“When I'm off the field, I'm a really nice guy,'' Foxx said. “But something came out of me when I was finally allowed to play. The coaches were like, 'You're a another person on the field.'

“From there, it just seemed like I had a knack for the game and I just kept going hard at it.''

By his freshman year at Greensboro's Page High School, Foxx was good enough to earn a late-season promotion from the junior varsity to varsity where he played in several games. He would go on to start the next two years on the offensive and defensive lines at Page.

Near the end of Foxx's junior year, East Carolina came into the picture. Foxx already had a connection to the ECU program in former Page teammate, Matt Millisor, who had been recruited as a walk-on kicker by the Pirates.

“They sent me an invitation to their Junior Day, so I went up there and just loved it,'' Foxx said.

An official scholarship offer came several weeks later from ECU secondary coach Brian Mitchell, according to Foxx.

Foxx attended two of the most exciting games at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium this season. He watched the Pirates rally to defeat Tulsa, 51-49, in McNeill's first game, then returned to see them turn back N.C. State, 33-27, in overtime.

The experiences at the games and with the coaching staff during those visits convinced Foxx that ECU was the place for him.

“I was very impressed, especially that first game against Tulsa when they had a last-minute catch in the end zone to win it,'' Foxx said. “That was a great moment.

“But the real thing is every time I've been there it just feels right. I was sold on the family atmosphere. The coaching staff, the players, everybody made me feel right at home like I was already part of the program.''

In an effort to better prepare himself for college athletically and academically, Foxx decided to transfer to Oak Ridge Military Academy located near Greensboro. He has been under the tutelage there of Coach Otis Yelverton, who has mentored many of the top prospects in the Greensboro area for the past few years.

Yelverton believes Foxx will be an early contributor at East Carolina.

“He is a great kid,'' Yelverton said. “I think one reason he chose East Carolina was because he could get on the field early and wouldn't have to red shirt. He is a very explosive player, who used his hands well. And he's a very strong kid. I think he's going to do a great job for them.''

Although he's played on both sides of the ball, Foxx said the Pirates have recruited him as a nose guard.

“As a nose guard, I think I shed blocks very well,'' Foxx said. “I'm able to get off blocks and get to the next level to make the plays.''

Foxx is scheduled to return to class at Oak Ridge this week where he'll begin serious preparations for his ECU career.

“My father just told me I have to beat that next man out for a starting spot,'' Foxx said. “So I'm heading back to school to take care of my books and make sure I'm academically ready. I'll also be taking care of my body in the weight room so when I do get to East Carolina I'm ready to compete for a job.''

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01/06/2011 02:36:31 AM


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