Bonesville Mobile Alpha Rev. 2.1a*

Mobile HomeLaptop/Desktop Home

Football Recruiting Report
Wednesday, February 12, 2014

By Sammy Batten

Recruiting report card: Offense

Receivers and tackles lift the grade on ECU's offensive haul

Recruiting Class of 2014 Thumbnail Sketches...

By Sammy Batten
All rights reserved.

Assessing East Carolina's offensive football recruiting Class of 2014 is easy as 1, 2, 3 ... and 4, 5, 6 and 7.

The Pirates signed seven wide receiver/tight end prospects and seven linemen among the 15 expected to play offense in the class. The large numbers at those positions aren't a surprise since ECU's "Air Raid'' offense employs multiple groups of receivers, while the offensive line needed replacements for three starters who completed their eligibility after the 2013 season.

Some eleventh-hour additions really helped make ECU's offensive class one of the best — if not THE best — in four years under Coach Ruffin McNeill. These were four uncommitted players who decided to play for the Pirates on signing day.

The first major victory occurred at approximately 8:59 a.m. on national signing day when a letter of intent arrived at ECU from Virginia Beach, VA, running back Anthony Scott. Scott had been the Pirates top backfield target throughout the recruiting process, but held off on announcing a final decision between ECU, Old Dominion and Virginia Tech until signing day.

Just minutes later, at 9:05, came the letter from Hutchinson Community College offensive guard Quincy McKinney, who had kept the ECU coaching staff on pins and needles as he waivered between the Pirates, Louisville and N.C. State.

At 9:45, the name of Terrell Green appeared on ECU's signing list. Green was sort of a late target for the Pirates and not many were aware they were pursuing him, but the Charleston, SC, wide receiver looks like he may be a real steal.

The final "surprise'' for the Pirates occurred at 11:45 when junior college offensive lineman Dontae Levingston faxed in his letter from Santa Monica College in California.

Now that the entire class is signed, sealed and delivered, here's our offensive position-by-position analysis and a look toward what the Pirates may be looking for as they recruit the Class of 2015.


WHAT THEY NEEDED: The Pirates want to sign a quarterback almost every year, but it became a slightly bigger priority last October when Shane Carden's backup, Cody Keith, was shut down for the season because of a chronic problem in his throwing elbow. Keith's situation moved true freshman Kurt Benkert up to the No. 2 spot behind Carden on the depth chart and left ECU with only two scholarship quarterbacks available. So signing at least one quarterback in this class became a much higher priority.

WHO SIGNED: No one specifically for the quarterback position. Three wide receiver signees — Dre Massey, Malik Gray and Quay Johnson — were all high school quarterbacks. Gray or Massey might be able to serve as quarterbacks in the pinch, but are not full-time solutions for the future.

HOW ECU HELPED ITSELF: They really didn't, which is why the grade for this category is so low.

BIG ONE THAT GOT AWAY: This is also why the grade in this category isn't an F. The ECU coaching staff gets an A+ for effort in trying to sign John Wolford from Jacksonville, FL, and Shawn Stankavage from Raleigh. Both made verbal commitments to the Pirates with Wolford going first last September. But when the record setter who broke many of Tim Tebow's marks in Florida began weighing the prospects of redshirting behind Carden next year or playing immediately at Wake Forest, he switched to the Demon Deacons in December. Plan B for ECU was Stankavage, the son of former North Carolina quarterback Scott Stankavage. An underrated prospect whose only other offer was from Wyoming at the time, Stankavage gave the Pirates his pledge on December 20. But on the heels of that commitment, he went on an official visit to Vanderbilt and returned home with a change of heart. Stankavage signed with the Commodores and left ECU without enough time to really pursue any other options.

WHO'S BACK: Well, just one of the best and most underrated quarterbacks in the entire nation. It was pure travesty that Shane Carden failed to the make the list of finalists for the Davey O'Brien Award in 2013. The O'Brien is given annually to the nation's top quarterback and you can't tell me there are 16 ones better than Carden. In earning Conference USA Most Valuable Player honors, Carden completed 387 of 549 passes for 4,139 yards and 33 touchdowns. If that wasn't enough of a contribution to ECU's 10-win season, Carden added 10 rushing touchdowns to his production. The Pirates are truly blessed to have Carden for one more season, but the lack of experience behind him is alarming. The only other quarterback on the roster with game experience is junior Cody Keith, who appeared in three games last season as Carden's backup before elbow issues sent him to the sidelines. I'm sure the coaching staff will test Keith again during spring practice, but we probably won't know for sure if he'll be available in 2014 until next fall. Redshirt freshman Kurt Benkert hasn't played a down yet, but he's already gone through a spring practice and a full season in the system watching Carden. So while he isn't the athlete that Carden is, Benkert has the potential to run the offense effectively. The quarterback wild card in ECU's system is redshirt freshman B.J. Beecher. Beecher, from Concord, NC, is a lanky 6-foot-7, 215-pounder who failed to generate a lot of scholarship offers from major-college programs despite passing for more than 10,000 yards during his prep career at Concord. ECU enticed him to Greenville as a preferred walk on, but as he continues to develop physically it wouldn't surprise me to see him make a gradual rise up the quarterback depth chart.

WHO'S GONE: No one. The Pirates are expected to return every quarterback on their roster, from the scholarship guys to walk-ons.

NEED FOR 2015: Missing out on Wolford and Stankavage, combined with Carden's pending graduation after the 2013 season, has moved the quarterback position up to No. 1 on ECU's recruiting priority list for 2015. According to, the Pirates have already extended a scholarship offer to 2015 in-state quarterback prospect Kendall Hinton from Durham's Southern High School. But I'm willing to be there be multiple offers extended to quarterbacks by ECU before spring practice starts. With the state of North Carolina seemingly unusually rich in senior class quarterback talent, don't be surprised if the Pirates wind up signing two next February.


WHAT THEY NEEDED: The Pirates signed two running backs a year ago, but one of them, JUCO Terrell Lane, never reported. His absence, and the presence of three scholarship backs on the 2013 roster who were seniors or juniors made grabbing two players here the preferred number for 2014.

WHO SIGNED: ECU grabbed its No. 1 running back target in Anthony Scott, a 5-foot-9, 180-pounder from Green Run High School in Virginia Beach, VA, on signing day. Scott was selected by the Virginian-Pilot newspaper as its Beach District Offensive Player of the Year as a senior when he ran for 1,313 yards and 22 touchdowns, while also grabbing 37 passes for another 915 yards and eight scores. He narrowed his list of college possibilities to the Pirates, Old Dominion and Virginia Tech, the latter of which tried to persuade him to come to Blacksburg as a greyshirt and sit out a year before being awarded a scholarship. But on signing day Scott opted to sail with the Pirates, who want him in uniform immediately.

HOW ECU HELPED ITSELF: Scott is one of those slippery backs who defenders never really seem able to get a solid tackle on when he's running with the football. He's not the fastest guy in the world, but he's much stronger than his size might indicate and the guy has terrific hands that make him an effective receiver out of the backfield or in the slot. If any of the returning backs falter in preseason practice, Scott could find himself playing a major role in the ECU backfield as a true freshman.

BIG ONE THAT GOT AWAY: East Carolina offered two all-purpose backs in its own backyard, but neither Havelock's Derrell Scott or Marcelias Scott from Warsaw gave the Pirates much consideration before signing with Tennessee and N.C. State respectively.

WHO'S BACK: Breon Allen, who'll be a senior in 2014, came on strong after a slow start as Vintavious Cooper's backup down the stretch and finished second in rushing with 311 yards and three touchdowns on just 62 carries. Junior Chris Hairston also showed he's a capable back when healthy, especially during an 18-carry, 94-yard rushing effort against Middle Tennessee. Hairston's carries diminished after Allen began to emerge in the second half, but he still finished with 186 yards and three touchdowns. Junior walk-on Cory Hunter (7 carries, 27 yards) was also seeing some significant action through the first three games last season before having his season ended with a knee injury. Anxious to start competing for playing time this spring will be redshirt freshman Marquez Grayson, a bigger, more durable back who could be an asset in short-yardage situations and more.

WHO'S GONE: Vintavious Cooper enjoyed a brilliant two-year run with the Pirates after transferring in from Southwest Mississippi Community College. Cooper piled up 2,242 yards rushing and scored 20 touchdowns as a two-year starter and earned second-team All-Conference USA honors as a senior. He saved his best for last, gaining 198 yards on 25 carries and scoring two touchdowns in ECU's Beef "O'' Brady's Bowl victory against Ohio. Along with Cooper, fullback/tight end Zico Pasut and defensive-lineman-turned-fullback Jimmy Booth also completed their eligibility in 2013.

NEED FOR 2015: Allen completes his eligibility after the 2014 season, while Hairston and Hunter are seniors in 2015. The Pirates may be looking to replace all three in one class based on the number of early offers they've apparently made to running backs. They'll take at least two, but three isn't out of the question.


WHAT THEY NEEDED: Between three and five was the original need before a rash of losses put a dent in the Pirates depth chart. First, sophomore Jabril Solomon was ruled ineligible in August after a promising freshman year in which he caught 17 passes for 410 yards and a touchdown. Then, in October, Danny Webster and Quataye Smyre were similarly penalized for violating team rules. While there is a possibility that Solomon may return, Smyre is not enrolled this semester and Webster’s arrest on DWI charges just last weekend have put his future with the program in real jeopardy. A knee injury that cut short the stellar start to freshman Davon Grayson’s career cost the Pirates another receiver after the first six games. Those losses, and graduation departures led ECU to pursue an even higher number of receiver prospects.

WHO SIGNED: In alphabetical order, here we go. We’ll start with Steve Baggett from Beaufort, SC, a 6-foot-5, 225-pounder who caught 29 passes for 556 yards and seven touchdowns as a senior. Appalachian State and Charlotte also offered scholarships to Baggett. Next, a repeat signee from Wilmington, NC, Trevon Brown originally was part of the Class of 2013. But Brown failed to enroll after his high school transcript was submitted to the NCAA’s Clearinghouse too late. He’s the career leader in receiving yards at New Hanover High with 2,601 yards, including 1,182 as a senior. ECU was his only offer out high school. Curtis Burston of Apex, NC, played just seven games as a senior at Middle Creek High, but still managed 40 catches for 759 yards and 13 touchdowns. The Shrine Bowl all-star also had offers from Boston College, Charlotte, Furman and Old Dominion.

The next three guys were all prep quarterbacks. Malik Gray, from, Inman High in Chapman, SC, amassed 1,876 yards passing and 667 rushing as a senior. The Pirates were Gray’s lone major-college offer. Quay Johnson from Knightdale, NC, chose ECU over Appalachian State, Charlotte and Old Dominion. Dre Massey racked up more than 4,800 yards of total offense and scored 62 touchdowns as a senior at Mauldin, SC, High. Marshall was Massey’s other scholarship offer.

Finally, Terrell Green of Charleston, SC, made 36 catches for 775 yards. Green’s lone offer came from the Pirates.

HOW ECU HELPED ITSELF: Baggett, of course, is the H-back/tight end guy. He’s got excellent hands and moves pretty well for a big fellow, which will allow ECU to line him up in the slot at times. Brown, Burston and Green are big, physical receivers who’ll provide difficult matchups for smaller corners. Gray, Johnson and Massey are the agile, quick, playmakers capable of turning short throws or jet sweeps into long gains. Burston and Brown are already enrolled for the spring semester and should insert themselves into the receiver rotation immediately.

BIG ONE THAT GOT AWAY: Markell Boston is a two-way performer from East Coweta High in Sharpsburg, GA, who decided to cast his lot with ECU on Jan. 19 for the chance to play wide receiver at the major-college level. But Boston almost immediately began hedging on the pledge by making an official visit to Alabama on the weekend after he committed to the Pirates. But when SEC member Auburn came calling with an offer to play safety, Boston made the switch and signed with the Tigers.

WHO’S BACK: Seven players who caught passes in games last season are scheduled to return, including three who started at least half the regular-season games. The contingent will be headed by All-American candidate Justin Hardy. Hardy, who'll be a senior, is on the brink of re-writing the ECU records books for receiving. The former walk-on earned first-team All-C-USA honors as a junior when he made an amazing 114 receptions for 1,284 yards — both school single-season records — and scored eight touchdowns. The heir apparent to Hardy now seems to be Isaiah Jones, son of the ex-Pirate linebacker great Robert Jones. Isaiah made a strong case for C-USA Rookie of the Year honors when he ranked second to Hardy in team receptions with 62 catches for 604 yards and five touchdowns as a true freshman. Another true freshman, Davon Grayson, started the first six games and hauled in four touchdown passes before a knee injury sent him to the sidelines for the season. Grayson is likely to sit out spring drills as he recovers from the injury, but should be ready to resume action next fall. A trio of walk-ons who saw considerable action also return in senior Cam Worthy (19-295-2), junior Cedric Thompson (4-38-0) and sophomore Jimmy Williams (5-66-0). And let's not forget tight end/receiver Bryce Williams. The transfer from Marshall was an effective weapon in the passing game for ECU in his first season, especially near the goal line. He caught 20 passes for 220 yards and five scores on the year. Redshirt freshman Darren Dowdell is another true tight end who could work as an understudy to Bryce Williams. Although he's not currently enrolled at ECU, there is still hope that Jabril Solomon may return to the program at some point. Solomon had an impressive freshman year in 2012 when he led the Pirates with an average of 24.1 yards per catch.

WHO'S GONE: Starters Lance Ray and Reece Wiggins both made solid contributions as seniors. Ray caught 28 passes for 273 yards and three scores, while also serving as a reliable kick returner. Wiggins made 26 receptions for 372 yards and four touchdowns, including three scoring receptions in his final game at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

NEED FOR 2015: The big numbers at receiver secured this year, combined with the loss of just two seniors after the 2014 season in Hardy and Worthy, means this area won't be a priority. But with that said, you can still expect the Pirates to pursue three or four more at the inside and outside receiver positions.


WHAT THEY NEEDED: All three players on the depth chart at center for the Beef "O" Brady's Bowl are expected back next fall as is another potential center in redshirt freshman Christian Matau. Only one of the returnees will be a senior in 2013, so the magic number here was probably one.

WHO SIGNED: You can never really be exactly sure where some of the line signees will wind up playing, but when he committed Kyle Erickson from Fayetteville, NC, noted center was one of the positions he's been recruited to play at ECU. Erickson, a 6-4, 280-pounder, was a two-time All-Cape Fear region selection and as a senior was named to the North Carolina squad for the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas (he didn't play, however, due to an injury).

HOW ECU HELPED ITSELF: Erickson is a smart, football savvy player with a great work ethic. He's been tutored by former ECU offensive lineman Brian Rimpf at Jack Britt High School and his father, Kevin, was also a college center. He'll need time to develop physically and train himself more on making the shotgun snaps. But Erickson has the tools to become a starter at some point in his college career. Whether that'll be at center or guard may be the only question.

BIG ONE THAT GOT AWAY: Andrew Marshall from Cumming, GA, was rated the nation's No. 9 center prospect by ECU extended a scholarship offer to Marshall around May and he stayed open to the Pirates for another month before focusing on Atlantic Coast Conference schools. Marshall eventually decided to stay close to home and play for Georgia Tech.

WHO'S BACK: The three players who took every snap at center for ECU last season are scheduled to return. Original walk-on, C.J. Struyk, went from special teams performer to start 11 of 13 games at center as a sophomore. But the last start of the year against Ohio in the Beef "O" Brady's Bowl went to Taylor Hudson, who had been the starter through the first half of the 2012 before an injury sent him back to a reserve role. Hudson will be a senior next fall. No. 3 on the center depth chart for the bowl game was J.T. Boyd, who was also a backup at right guard. Boyd, a rising sophomore, appeared in eight games. Redshirt freshman Christian Matau worked as the scout team center for much of 2013 and could be another center candidate.

WHO'S GONE: The Pirates don't lose anyone to graduation at the center position.

NEED FOR 2015: Even with Hudson completing his eligibility at the end of the 2014 season, ECU seems well stocked at center for a couple of years. If they sign a pure center, it'll be because he's special.


WHAT THEY NEEDED: With both starters on track to graduate after the 2013 season, finding two to three potential replacements was fairly critical for the Pirates.

WHO SIGNED: ECU signed a player capable of stepping right into the starting lineup in Quincy McKinney from Hutchinson Community College in Kansas, where he earned second-team All-Jayhawk honors. McKinney is originally from Columbus, GA, and signed out of Carver High School with South Carolina in 2011. But he failed to meet NCAA academic entrance requirements and spent that year at Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia. McKinney signed with N.C. State following a semester at Fork Union and spent two years with the Wolfpack before leaving school in May 2013. He wound up at Hutchinson and comes to Greenville with two years of eligibility remaining. Erickson may also be included with the guard signees, but without him the Pirates came up a bit shy in meeting their need.

HOW ECU HELPED ITSELF: McKinney has Division I experience already and is expected to contend right away for one of the two starting guard jobs that are open due to graduation losses.

BIG ONE THAT GOT AWAY: The fact the Pirates only offered a handful of guard prospects kind of kills my theory they were looking for two or three players at the position. Outside of McKinney, they really didn't get any serious consideration from other guard prospects.

WHO'S BACK: Rising senior Drew Gentry has seen plenty of action in a reserve role at guard the last three seasons and played in all 13 games last year. The only other guards returning with playing experience are rising senior Kiefer Neal (six games in 2013) and walk-on senior Jonathan Powers (two). A wild card at guard for ECU could be junior Marquise Wallace. Wallace began his college career at West Virginia, but eligibility concerns prompted his departure before the end of preseason drills his freshman year. He tried but failed to get into Marshall from there, so he wound up spending two seasons at Lackawanna Community College. He signed with ECU out of Lackawanna, but after being touted for possible early playing time by Coach Ruffin McNeill on signing day never played a down in 2013. Wallace is a powerful athlete who plays with great tenacity, which could make him a candidate for playing time at guard next fall.

WHO'S GONE: Will Simmons made 38 consecutive career starts at right guard and Jordan Davis 33 at left guard for the Pirates. Simmons earned first-team All-C-USA honors, while Davis was a second-team choice in 2013.

NEED FOR 2015: Gentry, Neal and Powers all finish up after the 2014 season and need to be replaced. Since ECU signed a big class of tackles this time around watch for three to four guard prospects to be part of the 2015 class.


WHAT THEY NEEDED: Two or three seemed to be the numbers ECU needed at tackle early last year. But despite some significant depth at the position those projections apparently weren't in the ballpark.

WHO SIGNED: Des Barmore (6-6, 295) was a two-time, first-team all-city pick in Columbus, GA, and also received scholarship offers from Georgia State, Louisiana-Lafayette and San Diego State. From Fort Lauderdale, FL, the Pirates landed Erik Lenzen (6-5, 265), a three-year letterwinner at Cardinal Gibbons High (Bowling Green, Florida International, South Alabama offers). Another Floridian, Garrett McGhinn (6-6, 270) from Tallahassee, had Appalachian State, Florida A&M, Florida International and South Alabama on his final list. South Carolina Shrine Bowler Messiah Rice (6-5, 255) from Orangeburg entertained Appalachian State and Charlotte offers. Finally, Dontae Levingston, a transfer from Santa Monica College in California picked the Pirates over multiple scholarship offers, the most notable of which were from Kansas, Kansas State and Texas Tech.

HOW ECU HELPED ITSELF: Levingston could challenge for a starting job, but is more likely to work at a No. 2 spot on the depth chart in the beginning. Barmore, Lenzen and McGhinn will all require some physical growth before getting on the field. Rice is in the same boat as the latter three physically, but may be the best overall athlete in the bunch. Give strength and conditioning coach Jeff Connors a year or two with these guys and they'll be beasts.

BIG ONE THAT GOT AWAY: Will Richardson was one of the state's top blocking prospects in a thin class of offensive linemen. Richardson, from Burlington's Cummings High, received an early offer from the Pirates. But his interest was minimal. Richardson committed to Virginia, but switched to N.C. State by signing day.

WHO'S BACK: Ike Harris moved from a reserve role in 2012 to the starting left tackle job last season, where he opened 12 of 13 games. Harris should be an all-star candidate as a junior in 2014. Tre Robertson stepped in to make six starts last season when Adhem Elsawi missed time last season at right tackle and should head into spring practice as the starter there. Juniors Stewart Hinson (five games in 2013) and Chaz Lowery (5) are other scheduled to return with playing experience. Ready to join the mix this spring will be a trio of redshirt freshmen in Ryan Revia, Brandon Smith and Larry Williams.

WHO'S GONE: Adhem Elsawi transferred to ECU after spending a year at Campbell University and became a three-year mainstay on the offensive line for the Pirates. Injuries limited him to eight starts in 10 games at right tackle as a senior, but Elsawi still earned C-USA honorable mention honors and was an all-league academic pick.

NEED FOR 2015: With all the rookies in the 2014 class, the Pirates should be well stocked at tackle for the next two years. That doesn't mean they won't recruit one or two, but it's not the most pivotal need.


Missing on a quarterback and a bit more help at the guard positions hurt the final grade, but strong talent at receiver and at tackle pulled it back to honor roll status.

E-mail Sammy Batten

PAGE UPDATED 02/11/14 03:04 PM.

Copyright © All rights reserved. No content on this site may be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in any fashion without explicit written permission from the editor. Information from Bonesville staff members, East Carolina University, Conference USA and other sources was used in composing and/or compiling the articles and data on this site. This site is editorially independent and is not affiliated with East Carolina University or Conference USA. View's privacy policy. For advertising or other information, e-mail

*You are viewing an alpha version of Bonesville Mobile. You may view this trial version of Bonesville Mobile at no charge. After alpha and beta testing are completed, a subscription version of Bonesville Mobile will be available at a nominal price. The business model of Bonesville Mobile contemplates the incorporation of minimal and non-obtrusive advertising.