Tracking the Stars of the Future

Football Recruiting Report
Thursday, June 20, 2013

By Sammy Batten

Pirates lure New Bern's Purdie

State champions' linebacker to transition to safety

By Sammy Batten
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Cody Purdie has been traveling from his home in New Bern to Greenville for years. First, it was to watch the East Carolina Pirates play football, and more recently Purdie has been a regular visitor to receive therapy for a minor injury.

So, when the East Carolina football coaching staff decided to offer a scholarship about three months ago, Purdie already had a certain comfort level with the environment in Greenville.

"I was going over for therapy about three times a week at one point, and every time I'd stop by East Carolina,'' Purdie said. "Every time the coaches and the players would treat me as if I were at home. They were all excited to see me. The more I went over there, the more I realized that's the place I wanted to be.''

Purdie, a linebacker for the state 4-A champion New Bern Bears, finally decided to accept the offer on June 10 to become the third member of ECU's recruiting Class of 2014.

"It was a little surprise for them (ECU coaches),'' Purdie said. "I stopped by and saw (offensive coordinator) Coach (Lincoln) Riley and told him. Then I told (head coach) Coach (Ruffin) McNeill. They were excited about it as well.''

The 5-foot-10, 175-pounder has been recruited to play safety for the Pirates, but it's been at linebacker where Purdie has distinguished himself in two varsity seasons at New Bern. A starter since his sophomore season, Purdie established himself as a college prospect as a junior in 2012 when starring for New Bern squad that went 15-0 and edged Porter Ridge, 39-38, for the state 4-A crown.

Used at both linebacker and as a short-yardage back on offense, Purdie collected a team-best 143 tackles, 10 quarterback sacks and 20 tackles for loss to earn a spot on the New Bern Sun Journal's All-Area team. He also contributed eight rushing touchdowns and 177 yards rushing on just 28 carries.

Purdie produced one of his biggest plays of the season when it counted most. With New Bern struggling in the third period of the state championship game against Porter Ridge, Purdie's effort produced what New Bern coach Bobby Curlings called "a momentum changing'' play.

"We sent him on a blitz from his linebacker spot and he disrupted the quarterback,'' Curlings said. "He caused the quarterback to rush his throw and he actually threw it backwards for what turned out to be a fumble. We picked up the fumble and the momentum slid back our way.''

The performance came as no surprise to Curlings, who has watched Purdie develop from a kid hanging around the Bears' practices to a college prospect.

"We've know about him a long time,'' Curlings said. "He had an older brother (Corey), who graduated about three years ago. His older brother was a senior when he (Cody) was a freshman. Corey was a linebacker for a us, too.

"But we've known Cody since he was little. He'd be out here at our practices chasing footballs around. So we knew he'd be a good one because of the athleticism we saw at a young age.''

Purdie began his football career in the third grade playing for a local Pop Warner squad. During the first Pop Warner practice, players competed for positions by competing in head-to-head sprints.

"When I ran the first time they saw I was fast and put me at running back,'' he said. "I played that all the way through middle school. I started playing defense for the first time when I reached the high school.''

College recruiters began to notice Purdie during the summer after his freshman year at New Bern. He spent the football season playing on the junior varsity, but after attending an underclassmen combine he received an invitation to a top prospect camp in Atlanta, GA. He later was chosen for an elite prospect camp in Florida, but was unable to attend because it conflicted with New Bern's preseason practice schedule.

Smaller college programs were initially interested in Purdie. But as he developed through his sophomore and junior years on the New Bern varsity, bigger schools like Charlotte, North Carolina and N.C. State established contact. Along the way, the Pirates snatched up Purdie's teammate, offensive lineman Christian Matau, who signed with ECU in February.

"He (Purdie) liked East Carolina. It was right here by his house and he was tickled to death to the get the offer,'' Curlings said.

New Bern has produced a number of major college prospects in recent years, including Matau and N.C. State signee Bra'lon Cherry in February. But Curlings said Purdie is one of the few players during his time with the Bears who plays both ways.

"I guess over the years we've had several come through like him,'' Curlings said. "But he is unique. I've been here since 1997 and it's rare we have people play both ways. He's been doing that consistently since his sophomore year. It's hard to compare him to our other standouts because he's so valuable in all three phases of the game.''

Purdie will make the transition to safety at ECU, but he's confident that won't pose a problem.

"It's not going to be a big transition,'' he said. "Almost all the schools I've talked to wanted me as a safety, so I've been working on it already. I'm working on my open field play and I'm getting a feel for it. The best part is I still get to do what I love, and that's hit people.''

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06/20/2013 02:22 PM