What a Difference a Year Makes
by Billy Weaver

You may remember that last year at this time ECU head football coach Skip Holtz had no idea who would be his starting quarterback. James Pinkney, who was the starting signal caller during the 2004 season, was desperately trying to get his academics in order and missed the 2005 spring practice session. In fact, it wasn't until the fall that coach Holtz could breathe a little easier knowing Pinkney would be back in a Pirate uniform for the start of the 2005 regular season.

Fast forward one year. James Pinkney will likely see very little action during the Purple/Gold Scrimmage Game Saturday at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium but this time it's by choice and not by ecessity. James Pinkney will head into the 2006 season fresh off a junior campaign in which he threw for 2,773 yards and 14 touchdowns and ran for seven more scores. Pinkney is without a doubt the number one guy and there's no reason to risk injury at this stage of the game. "We haven't given him a lot of live work but I don't know that he needs that," said ECU offensive coordinator Steve Shankweiler. "The one thing you have to remember about James is that this is the first time in his career that he's gone into spring practice with the same offense two years in a row. He is much further along obviously than he was this time last year."

Enter redshirt freshman Brett Clay. He was one of three quarterbacks to take up the slack in Pinkney's absence last spring and this year he's been named the number two man on the depth chart. It's refreshing to know that ECU has a solid back-up quarterback in the stable and possibly the man who will replace James Pinkney after graduation. "My goal coming into the spring was to try to come out of here and be the number two guy," said Brett Clay. "Having a chance to be that guy is a big accomplishment for me."

Clay will get the bulk of the reps Saturday at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium during the spring game which can be heard live on Pirate Radio 1250 and 930. Also be on the lookout for fullback Patrick Dosh, yes, fullback. The on-time quarterback turned linebacker will now be back on the offensive side of the ball and he loves to "lower the headgear." (I've been waiting months to use that phrase)

Saturday should be a lot of fun and the start of great things to come for the 2006 season. I'll see you at the game.
Billy Weaver