A late push helped boast ECU’s 2006 recruiting class
as arguably the best since ECU joined Conference USA
in 1997. Even with online recruiting services releasing recruits’ every
thought, the Skip Holtz coaching staff corralled a talented group
sprinkled with potential, height and character.
Holtz signed 27 of the 46 players that came to
campus on official visits. Of the 27, nine are from North
Carolina.; eight are from Florida
and South Carolina were
represented with three players apiece.
Holtz showed his trust in redshirt freshmen Robert
Kass and Brett Clay by declining to sign a true quarterback. Holtz
stated publicly that he doesn’t want to waste his 85 allotted
scholarships on signal callers. But by not signing a quarterback, he
will now be forced to rely on Kass, Clay or sophomore Patrick Pinkney
once current starting quarterback, James Pinkney graduates.
Verdict: The quarterback position
was a dry crop inside North Carolina.
Not a single quarterback that signed on Wednesday was ranked with more
than two stars. Last year, four quarterbacks signed with clubs such as Tennessee,
But this year, the lack of quality players helped ECU feel good about
Holtz went into the recruiting process hoping to sign
only one running back. Because former verbal commitment Kennard Reeves
opted for Vanderbilt late in the game, the door was opened for the
enigmatic Norman Whitley. The Richmond Co. back turned down BCS offers
early in the recruiting process only to have them pulled later on.
“That’s the kind of kid that we want here,” said
running backs coach Junior Smith referring to the Shine Bowl MVP. “To
have the confidence, to have a chip on their shoulder believing they’re
the best back in the country.”
Fullback was an immediate concern that Holtz addressed
in the form of Kevin Gidrey since Jermarcus Veal and Jason Pender both
graduated. According to Holtz, Gidrey the 252 pound bruiser is a “big
thick, athletic son of a gun” who will compete for playing time as a
Verdict: Holtz’s spread offense is
based on finesse and speed in stretching the field rather than
punishing the run up the middle. The philosophy caused failed attempts
at converting 3rd-and-3 plays. A 220-pound back would have
done the trick.
Recruiting coordinator and wide receivers coach Donnie
Kirkpatrick couldn’t stop bragging about how talented Javon Brumsey and
late additions Dwayne Harris and DeMorio Waymon are.
“Those guys are being signed so in two years, we won’t
have to rebuild,” said Kirkpatrick. “We’ll be reloading.”
Brumsey has height necessary to climb the proverbial
ladder to complete fade routes accompanied with blazing speed.
“His strength is his speed (4.43), his height, which
you can’t coach and his hands,” said Northeastern
coach Antonio Moore about Brumsey who chose the Pirates over N.C.
State and Virginia.
“I could make a whole list about his strengths. I couldn’t finish
without saying that Javon is a great kid and a great personality.”
Verdict: Holtz improved the team by
adding players with both height and speed. But N.C.
instate receivers Owen Spencer, LaMarcus Bond while UNC inked Hakeem
Nicks. The Pirates still lack the speedy receiver, which allows for the
offense to stretch the defense.
Steve Shankweiler added some hogs to his offensive
linemen troop in bringing along five newcomers. After graduating three
starters, Holtz needed some immediate help while still securing the
future. Willie Barton, a 320 pound JUCO transfer from Georgia Military
should compete for a starting slot. Andrew Farr, a prep school transfer
is rehabbing a knee injury, but will participate in spring practice.
D.J. Scott, Sean Allen and Cory Dowless participated
in ECU’s summer camp. Scott, the highly regarded of the three was the
first verbal commitment and never wavered from his decision. Doug
Polochak hails from Nease High
School, one of the premier schools in Florida.
Verdict: Holtz brought in five
quality players, but only one potential 2006 starter. Some of the
younger players already on campus will fill the vacancies created by
graduation. But by signing five, all with room to grow, run blocking
shouldn’t be as much of a problem.
Ask any high school coach which the hardest position
to recruit is and he will immediately answer with the defensive line.
Luckily for the Pirates, defensive line coach Donnie Thompson is one of
the best recruiters in the state. Thompson personally plucked defensive
ends from the region in 6’7” Travis Melvin and 6’6” Willie Smith.
The Pirates also inked a couple of unknowns in Joe
Council and Davion Holman.
“[Davion’s] got tremendous range,” said Dr. Phillips
High School Head Coach Kevin Pettis about Davion Holman who turned down
“His wing span is unbelievable. He’s just a tall, rangy type of kid who
gets after it real well.”
Grade: "A minus" -- Reason Why:
plenty of potential, but no kids that are likely to compete immediately.
The seven linebackers will make Pirate fans forget
about the four that recently graduated. With a slew of young talent
already in the program, Holtz added veteran JUCO’s in Orlando Farrow,
Fred Wilson and Daniel Muhewzi. All three have legitimate height and
size lacking in the younger players.
Holtz inked four freshman players, all of which will
take time to develop. Relative unknown Chris Atkins and Atlanta
product Lorenzo Osborne will have to gain weight.
“I think before it’s all said and over with, they’re
going to put down as a defensive end where he’s a natural,” said West
Gadsden Head Coach Robert Jackson about Atkins. “He’s one of those high
school players you only get once or twice in your career.”
Middle linebacker prospects
Nick and A.J. Johnson (no relation) will have to develop their lateral
“[ECU] is getting a good kid, a good individual and a
great football player,” said East Mecklenburg Head Coach Greg Hill
about Nick Johnson. “You’re getting a steal because I think he could
have gone anywhere in the country
Verdict: Holtz filled the vacancies
created by the four seniors who graduated. By bringing on seven
linebackers, including three talented JUCO’s, where does it leave some
of the players already on the team. Competition will reign between the
newcomers and those of Pierre Bell, Durwin Lamb, Zack Slate and Jarrett
Holtz signed tall, rangy corners while still
maintaining hard hitting safeties. Convincing Melvin Patterson to play
with his cousin Kasey Ross in the secondary was a huge coup. Patterson
chose ECU on Tuesday over N.C.
State, but will
need to rehab an ACL injury he suffered during the first game of his
“Trying to find a weakness, I don’t see a lot of them
there,” said Santa Fe Head Coach Scott Pritchett about Patterson. “He’s
not perfect, but he’s got a lot of strengths. I can’t see a lot of
Corners Darryl Reynolds and Dekota Marshall, both over
six feet and from the region both have the opportunity to play in 2006.
Marshall, who bench presses 370 pounds despite his 185 pound frame runs
a 4.4 40-yard dash.
“[Dekota’s] potential is unlimited,” said 23-year
Southwest Onslow Head Coach Phil Padgett. “It wouldn’t shock me if he
is playing on Sundays in four or five years.”
Travis Simmons, a late addition and Dan Wideman, a
possible academic casualty, are both considered projects.
“I don’t think there’s a limit as to how good
[Wideman] can be,” said Emerald High School Head Coach Mac Bryan. “He’s
the fastest 100 meter (clocked at 10.7) guy in this part of South
Verdict: Secondary is the position
that received the biggest boost on Wednesday. Marshall
could be penciled as an immediate starter, but will likely fill in as a
nickel corner. Reynolds needs to make sure that he qualifies
academically. With five new players, where does that leave redshirt
freshmen Chris Mattocks and Van Eskridge?
Holtz announced the five players have left the program
citing playing time as their main concern. Cornerback Erode Jean, wide
receiver Brian Howard, offensive linemen Zach Davis and Mike Williams
and defensive lineman Mike Horner will move on to I-AA schools.
Starting H-back Robert Tillman has been suspended from
the team for the spring semester. Holtz did not give a specific reason
for the rising senior’s suspension. Tillman caught 16 balls for 186
yards and one touchdown in six games before suffering a season-ending
MacDonaugh ends career
Mike MacDonagh, a former walk-on transfer from Wayne
St. will no longer don football pads.
MacDonagh finished with 11 tackles, including two for loss while
starting five games in each of the last two seasons. The defensive end
suffered a neck injury during the final game of the season causing a
narrowing in his spine.