Feb 112013



By Nathan Summers

Monday, February 11, 2013

Ruffin McNeill admits there is a fair amount of luck involved in signing a recruiting class, some good and some bad.

Even though the fourth-year East Carolina head football coach landed almost right on target by signing 24 new players last Wednesday on National Signing Day, it didn’t happen without at least a little last-minute chaos.

On the final weekend of recruiting, the Pirates lost long-standing running back commit Jabo Lee to Tennessee, and also two-time ECU defensive lineman commit Dontrill Hyman to West Virginia. On the same weekend, however, the Pirates pried defensive lineman Demetri McGill away from Maryland and defensive back DaShawn Benton from Cincinnati.

“It happens, and we did the same thing to some other teams,” McNeill said of the game of give-and-take the Pirates played. “It’s all fair in love and war.

“You win some, and we won most of them this year, but you lose some. We lost a couple late, but it wasn’t because we were outworked or anything. Some of them changed their mind.”

Camp clout

Eight of the Pirates’ 24 signees had attended ECU camps, meaning they had already met the coaching staff, toured the campus and seen the athletic facilities.

Though just one part of the complex process of getting the right players to sign on the dotted line, McNeill said camps can play a vital role in establishing the comfort level needed to sell a recruit.

“The biggest thing in recruiting is relationships,” he said. “We’re able to get them up here for games, camps … I thought that was key in this group. Each year, we’re able to build that relationship with high school coaches and recruits from that area and then get them on campus for camps, and let them feel Dowdy-Ficklen at its finest on Saturdays.”

Versatility abounds

The Pirates reeled in numerous players who already appear to be ready to play specific positions, but like any good class, ECU also landed some recruits with potential to play multiple roles before they’re done.

Kirk Donaldson presents the Pirates a familiar option. Though he technically signed as a defensive end, McNeill said he envisions Donaldson playing outside linebacker instead, much like rising senior Derrell Johnson, who enjoyed a breakout season last year after shifting from end to linebacker.

At 6-foot-3, 250 pounds, the Charlotte native played both roles while starring at Vance High School.

“He’s got the mobility to play (end), but we have signed him as an outside linebacker, so he’s going to be one of those big linebackers who can play end, rush the passer and give us an edge.”

Contact Nathan Summers at nsummers@reflector.com or 252-329-9595.

via The Daily Reflector.


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