ARTICLE OF THE DAY
 
Missing Seniors

by Eric Gilmore
11/23/05


Nineteen seniors will gather on the field inside Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium for the last time wearing purple jerseys. The memories of presenting their families with roses will undoubtedly be etched into their minds forever. It will signify the end of hard work, sweat and tears spent on the gridiron.

     
Back in the 1990s on every senior day, the entire class would pose in tuxedos for the cover of the game program. With SIDs constantly changing, every director has their own flair to commemorate the class. But I distinctly remember those classy pictures of the guys who devoted their lives to advancing ECU’s program.


Though it may be premature to conclude, what will be the legacy of this senior class? Are they players that failed to carry the torch of tradition or ones that have now sustained the flood waters? Isn’t this the class that many Logan inked when he was “burnt out?” Are fans ready for them to be flushed out of the program to make way for younger more vibrant talent?


Only time will tell. During their four years, the 2005 class has an amassed an 11-34 (.239) overall record. Statistically, this graduating class has won the least amount of games over a four-year span since the 1987 class went 11-33 (.250).


But does the blame really lie on the players? Many would argue the different administrations, coaching merry-go-round and outside influences tainted the team’s record more than a lack of recruiting.


And then there’s this season. Even though the perennial corner still has yet to be turned, this year’s class has exuded more on-the-field leadership than 2003 and 2004 combined. Holtz continues to praise their newfound camaraderie even through tough losses like Tulsa. Saturday’s win over Marshall just reinforces what the coaching staff has been preaching.


Holtz continues to talk about building a foundation. Before any winning program can be constructed metaphorically, rebar and concrete must positioned. According to Holtz, the few five-year players have bought in, willing to make the adjustments necessary to be successful.


But what if these survivors had the help of their fallen comrades? What if the recruiting crapshoot had swung in ECU’s favor with a couple of critical recruits? Would the 2005 class be debated as one of the worst to come through in the last two decades?


Remember the first couple of weeks during college? Classes are packed and parking spaces are sparse. But whatever reason as time progresses, students can’t take the daily grind of school. Though it is a simple task, people have family problems, drug problems or situations that arise causing them to drop out. For a lack of a better term, they don’t make the cut.


What if some players, both from the 2001 and 2002 signing classes panned out? For every Richard Koonce, there is a Reicko Jones. The players like Jones end up wasted potential leaving only ECU to suffer.

 

Here’s a sobering reminder of players that could be handing out roses on Saturday.

 

2001

D’Brian Hudgins- Hudgins never became academically eligible. He transferred to N.C A&T.

 

Derrick Leathers- Leathers was a pure athlete out of Bath. He never became academically eligible.

 

Lance Butler- Butler is currently a junior with the Florida Gators. A 6’7” guard, Butler has made 32 career starts. The Lexington recruit heavily considered ECU before deciding on Florida.

 

Travis Cox- Cox played for Greg Thomas at JH Rose. The defensive back never saw the field after playing for the practice squad during his first two seasons.

 

Chris White- Even though the big OL signed, White never came to Greenville. He never became academically eligible.

 

Delton Woodard- Woodard never enrolled at ECU presumably from not becoming academically eligible.

 

Antoine Nealy- Antoine was the younger brother of former ECU linebacker Kent Nealy. The younger brother started at free safety under John Thompson in 2003 before he was kicked off the team for an off-campus incident. Nealy was later reinstated, but never again saw significant playing time.

 

Garrett Peterkin- Peterkin was an undersized wide receiver. He suffered a severe back injury that caused him to miss the 2003 season. He was a student assistant with the football team in 2004.

 

Sakeen Wright- Wright was a top tier quarterback recruit from N.J. Even though he was freakishly athletic, Wright never really adjusted to the move to receiver. He transferred back near his home where he set numerous Division II records as a receiver.

 

Paul Troth- Had Troth not wasted a redshirt by handing the ball off in 2001, he would currently be a senior. Troth was probably the biggest bust in ECU’s recruiting history. A top national recruit, Troth’s career was mismanaged from the get-go. But any illusions of becoming the next great quarterback were quickly erased when John Thompson named Desmond Robinson the starter in 2003. Troth transferred to Liberty and struggled for playing time.

 

2002

Jared Brogden- Brogden was never a Division I-A recruit. He played as a true freshman in 2002 at cornerback. He struggled again in 2003 at corner and was moved to safety midseason. Frustrated, Brogden transferred to Liberty where he excelled.

 

Iverick Harris- Harris’s career remains an enigma. The sure bust of 2002, Harris brought in big time credentials upon entering Greenville. Harris had the size and speed to be a quality receiver. But he struggled for playing time early in his career and quit the team midway through 2004. Holtz gave him a shot during the spring of 2005, but again his name didn’t appear on the fall roster.

 

Reicko Jones- Jones played as a true freshman in 2002. Jones showed promise while being named to the C-USA All-Freshman team. Penciled in as the starter for his sophomore campaign, Jones flunked out of school. He never returned.

 

David Jorgensen- Jorgensen decided to leave the football team in the spring of 2004 for personal reasons.

 

Steve Mercier- Mercier quit playing football soon after signing.

 

Eric Terry- Terry played for former ECU skipper Ed Emory at Richmond Co. The athletic defensive end earned a letter in 2003, but was not on the roster in 2004.

 

Mar’ques Woolford- Woolford was redshirted in 2002. The White Oak product played on the scout team, but didn’t earn a letter in 2003. He was not on the roster in 2004.

 

Daniel Inman- Inman has been a three-year starter at Georgia. The son of former Pirate great Wayne Inman, the surefire verbal reneged when BCS teams kept calling. Inman locked in his Pirate verbal during his junior year. Midway through his senior year, Inman spurned ECU. Inman probably would have been a four-year starter and one of the all-time ECU greats at the tackle slot.

 

Jacoby Watkins- Watkins is currently a junior at UNC. Originally from Scotland Co, Watkins verbally committed to ECU. Instead, Watkins changed his commitment and signed with the Tarheels. Watkins started all 12 games as a sophomore at defensive back. He currently has 19 tackles in 2005.


Eric Gilmore
ejg1102@mail.ecu.edu