Men in the Middle
by Josh Spence

Traditionally East Carolina football is known for having some very good linebackers. Names like Harold Randolph, Robert Jones, Mark Libiano, and recently Pernell Griffin have not only made an impact here at ECU, but received national recognition as well.  Robert Jones was perhaps the most decorated.  Jones was a 1991 consensus First-Team All American, and was the highest–ever drafted Pirate into the NFL.  Jones was drafted in the first round (21st overall) by the Dallas Cowboys, with whom he went on to win three Super Bowls. 


The Linebacker corps in 2005 is no different.  Of course Chris Moore has become a mainstay in the middle over the last several years. Moore, a local product out of Havelock, came into '05 with more starts than any member of the Pirates and has emerged as a leader on and off the field.  Richard Koonce has solidified a starting spot at one of the Pirates' outside linebacker spots after jumping from linebacker to defensive end in 2004.  Josh Chilsom has manned the other outside spot all year. Chilsom missed all of 2004 due to academic issues, but immediately impressed the coaching staff with his work ethic when he rejoined the team this summer.  Together the trio has started every game, amassing 134 of the 434 total tackles, combined on 16 for a loss, and has 3 combined sacks. 


There’s only one problem with the Pirate linebackers.  They are all seniors.  One would think that the loss of your three starting linebackers would be devastating to a team.  However, with some young talent at the position, that may not be the case for East Carolina.  Get used to guys like Durwin Lamb, Pierre Bell, and Jarrett Wiggins.  They could very well be the starting trio at linebacker for the Pirates in 2006.  As a true freshman Lamb played in 10 games and started the final game in 2004 at one linebacker spot, and has played in all 6 this year as a backup.  Wiggins a red-shirt freshman has looked solid as a backup in 3 games this year for the Pirates.  Bell, another red-shirt freshman has had the most success of the three, netting 10 tackles, 3 for a loss, and a sack in playing all 6 games this year. 


East Carolina is at .500 for the first time since 2001.  Although it feels odd for a mid-season game to have any major implications for the Pirates, it really does.  The Pirates are currently tied atop the same East division in Conference USA that the league coaches selected them to finish last in.  The corps of linebackers has been instrumental to the Pirates success this far, and will be vital if they want that success to continue.  Although the big three are gone at season's end, with young talent on the Pirate bench the linebacker position will continue to be one of ECU’s strong suits.

Josh Spence