Tracking the Stars of the Future

Football Recruiting Report
Wednesday, January 22, 2014

By Sammy Batten

Pirates land Palmetto State star

ECU player Taylor Hudson helped sell his coaches on Mauldin's Dre Massey

By Sammy Batten
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Calling Dre Massey "a playmaker'' on the football field is an understatement. Perhaps a better description, especially for Massey's senior season at Mauldin (SC) High School, is "THE playmaker.''

The 6-foot, 175-pounder was practically a one-man offensive show as a dual-threat quarterback and return man for the Mavericks, which produced a 7-5 record and state playoff berth. Massey completed 206 of 324 passes for 2,793 yards and 28 touchdowns, while also rushing 245 times for 2,043 more yards and 34 scores.

But as incredible as those season statistics read, Massey's single-game performance against Boiling Springs late in the season was even more eye-popping. He gained national attention in Mauldin's final regular-season game against Boiling Springs, including a mention in USA Today, by passing for 213 yards and four touchdowns and rushing for 354 yards and seven more scores in an 83-70 triumph.

It was news of that performance delivered by Mauldin alum and current East Carolina offensive lineman Taylor Hudson that accelerated the Pirates' interest in recruiting Massey, according to Mavericks coach Lee Taylor.

"Taylor (Hudson) was going to them (ECU coaches) every week and telling them, 'Dre did this,' and 'Dre did that Friday night,''' Lee Taylor said. "Well, Taylor told me he went in there Saturday after Dre scored 11 touchdowns and told the coaches what he'd done. They didn't believe him until they pulled it up online.

"(ECU inside receivers coach) Coach (Donnie) Kirkpatrick, who had been in touch with me off and on regarding Dre during the season, got in touch with me right then.''

The Pirates brought Massey in for an official visit last weekend, then followed up with an in-home visit Monday to secure a verbal commitment from the future ECU wide receiver.

Massey made the pledge after also entertaining an offer from Marshall and serious interest from Oregon State. The Beavers had scheduled Massey for an official visit for January 24, but that has now been cancelled due to his ECU commitment.

"Oh man, I just loved the atmosphere up there,'' Massey said Tuesday when asked what sold him on the Pirates. "You could just feel the love. Everybody you spoke to was talking about family. Everything the coaches told me, the players would turn around and tell you the same thing. It was just the perfect situation for me.''

The combination of family and football at ECU appealed to Massey because it reminded him of home.

He grew up in a family that held football in high esteem. His uncle, Norris Brown, was a tight end for Georgia and a teammate of the great Herschel Walker during the Bulldogs' run to the 1980 national championship. Brown went on to play one season for the NFL's Minnesota Vikings.

Massey's father, Andre Mills, played for state championship teams at Laurens (SC) High School back in the 1980s. Mills never got to see his son play on the high school level, however, due to a tragic car accident that claimed his life during the summer between Massey's eighth- and ninth-grade years.

"He always took pride in my accomplishments and wanted me to follow in his footsteps with football,'' Massey said. "When he passed away, I put my mind on football and went for it because I knew that would make him happy.''

Massey arrived at Mauldin without fanfare and played for the "C'' or freshman team before suddenly being thrust into a role as the varsity starter the following spring when the scheduled starter was injured during off-season practices.

"We put Dre in that spring ... [We] were like, 'Holy crap! This kid can play,''' Taylor said. "He ended up being our quarterback as a sophomore and it was a process with him. We play in a difficult region. Throwing a sophomore kid in there with only C-team experience and none on the JV at all, well, there's a steep learning curve.

"But midway through the season he started getting it, and just took off from there. He had an outstanding junior year, and this season was just off the charts.''

Massey finished the 2013 season as one of the most decorated players in South Carolina. He was selected the region player of the year and back of the year for the Big 16 team chosen by the South Carolina Football Coaches Association. The High School Sports Report named him player of the year for the entire state and he was selected for the annual North-South All-Star game during which he earned most valuable player honors after passing for 78 yard and a touchdown, rushing for 72 yards and a score and returning a kickoff 77 yards.

In addition to those statistics, Massey also caught a 13-yard pass in the North-South game.

He hopes to do more of the latter at ECU, where he's expected to play an inside receiver position.

"I didn't talk to them (ECU coaches) much about playing quarterback,'' Massey said. "They said they might use me in a 'Wildcat' situation and let me throw the ball a couple of times (on receiver pass), things like that. But what they really want me to do is play receiver and I'm excited about that.

"What I bring to the table is just explosiveness, speed and playmaking ability. They (ECU coaches) are loving the idea of putting me on the field and let me make things happen. They're also going to have me on kick returns and punt returns. I just want to make something happen for them.''

Speed is one of Massey's many assets. He's been timed at 4.38 seconds in the 40-yard dash out of uniform, but according to Taylor his speed doesn't diminish significantly after he puts on the pads.

"A great example of his speed happened against Byrnes this year,'' Taylor said. "It was near the end of the first half and we were on their 25-yard line going in. We called time out and told him to get the ball in the end zone. We told all our players if it gets intercepted, they're going to try to run it back because they have nothing to lose.

"Well, Dre throws the ball into the end zone, it's intercepted and they do run it out. The guy takes off up the Byrnes sideline and Dre ends up knocking him out of bounds at the opposite 25-yard line to save a touchdown. He knocked him about four yards into the bench.

"Now, we didn't realize until we watched the game film that when that kid headed up the sideline, Dre was 20 yards away,'' he said. "Dre caught up to him and was able to get in front of him and square up to knock him out of bounds. Later, the Byrnes coach told me the kid who intercepted the pass was the fastest person on their team.''

Massey is one of two wide receiver prospects who committed to the Pirates after making official visits to Greenville last week, joining Markell Boston from East Coweta High School in Newnan, GA. More on Boston's commitment coming up.

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01/22/2014 03:12 AM