ECU Changes

by Eric Gilmore

Football Transfers


Skip Holtz announced on National Signing Day that five players would transfer outside of the Pirate program. Offensive lineman Zach Davis is currently enrolled at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. Liberty, under the direction of first-year head coach Danny Rocco, was the same destination for past Pirate transfers Paul Troth and Jared Brogden.

Brian Howard, a Clinton native, has enrolled at Fayetteville State. Howard, who has just one year of eligibility, struggled to find the field in his junior season. The rangy receiver managed only one catch for 15 yards in 2005. Howard tallied 31 catches for 285 yards and one touchdown during his three year Pirate career.

Cornerback Erode Jean was the most surprising transfer announced by Holtz. Jean is now currently enrolled at Valdosta State in Ga. The Ft. Pierce, Fla. native finished his ECU career with 125 tackles and three interceptions.

Jean started 19 consecutive games heading into the 2005 season, but only started three after losing his job to Demetrius Hodges. The current staff favors height in the secondary and at 5’8” Jean was simply too short to compete with taller receivers. The former C-USA Freshman team selection will have two years to complete just one year of eligibility.

Corey Rouse’s maturation process


Corey Rouse’s right arm dons a tattoo of a basketball encircled with the phrase ‘hold my own.’ The picture serves as the senior’s constant reminder to rule the paint and secure rebounds. But the accompanying phrase is what has helped Rouse develop both as a player and person.

While Rouse isn’t swapping sweat with ogre-sized centers across the league, he can be seen literally holding his own in the form of his three-year old daughter. Recently while walking towards his truck following yet another home conference defeat in what is his final hurrah, Rouse tucked his daughter gently inside his lanky arms amid coos from his impressionable girl.

“She’s like a split image of me when I was younger,” said the 23 year-old Rouse. “That’s what my mom says. She acts the same way sometimes. She’ll give the same little faces that I used to make, like to get her way or get what she wants.”

Making similar faces as daughter Zamiaya is six year-old half-brother, Joseph, who also hinges in Rouse’s every action and reaction.

“He tries to imitate most of the stuff that I do,” Rouse said. “Even though he’s not as tall as I am, he tries to do stuff like I do. He loves to come down to [Greenville] and hang out with us on the weekends.”

Corey’s mother Monica agrees. “He serves as a role model for those two. And the whole, I think, community.”

But Rouse admits that early into his college career, he wasn’t mature enough- especially on the court- to be considered anywhere near role model worthy.

“I used to complain a lot,” Rouse said. “But now I’ve just learned to accept the fact that you can’t complain now. You’ve just got to play.”

Like Moussa Badiane last season, Rouse is the lone survivor amid a graveyard of transfers among his recruiting class. During his first two seasons, the 195-pounder was frustrated, wearing down from the mental strain of his former coach. But unlike many players that bolted, Rouse finally adhered to Bill Herrion’s teaching.

“He saw that I could do more, like at times I could do a lot and then others times I wouldn’t play up to my potential,” Rouse said of Herrion, who resigned last season. “He saw stuff in me where I didn’t really see it. I thought I was pushing myself as hard as I could, but I was really shortchanging myself.”

Rouse’s behavior boiled over during the Kinston product’s sophomore season.  Herrion suspended Rouse for what he termed “a mistake I shouldn’t have made.” Rouse was excluded from all team activities for two weeks, which was released as a violation of team policy.

“It made me realize that all of this can come to an end if you don’t straighten up. It made me a better player and work harder. And it made me realize that I needed to grow up more. [Playing basketball] wasn’t like a game; it was more like a job.”

Rouse’s basketball maturation process paralleled that of his personal life. An admitted momma’s boy, Rouse was forced a right of passage while his mother was served in the National Guard on an extended military stay in Iraq.

“When my mom was gone, that was one of the toughest parts of my life because she’s all I depended on,” Rouse said about his constant worry about whether his mother was okay. “It was hard because I couldn’t talk to her like I wanted to. I was just praying every night that my mom was okay.”

But Rouse endured. And his newfound maturity has led to increased results inside the paint. The communication major touts a career-high 14.2 point per game average, up 3.6 from his junior year, including a 35 point outburst against N.C. A&T.

As the premier player on a thin-deep frontcourt, Rouse is sometimes forced to match up with the opponents’ center, often giving up as much as 60 pounds. Despite constantly being outmatched, Rouse’s is eighth nationally and first in C-USA in rebounding with 10.8 per contest.

“I hope people see me as a great player at the time I played,” Rouse said about his Pirate legacy. “Just that I always tried to get after it. I may have not did the right thing all the time, I just hope that people see that I gave it my all when I had my chance.”

Outside of the box score, Rouse has his own legacy already formed in his daughter and half-brother. Though he doesn’t get to spend time with either as much as he wishes, Rouse has promised full devotion once the season is completed. But for now, Rouse’s full effort remains on raising the standards of Pirate basketball with six games left in the regular season.

“He always calls and I tell him, boy you just got to shake it off and bounce back,” Monica said of the team’s struggles. “When you’ve done your best, there’s nothing else you can do. Just got to look up, ya’ll can’t look down.”

Despite the losses, Rouse knows that two youngsters are constantly looking up at the 6’8” giant. And after four years of molding at ECU, fans have come to agree with his biased mother.

“[They’ve] got a pretty decent path in somebody they can look up to,” quipped Monica proudly.

Eric Gilmore