By Nathan Summers
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
East Carolina still has a football game left to play this season, but head coach Ruffin McNeill has already identified two memories — and two phrases — which he said define the 2013 edition of the Pirates.
Although the Pirates’ ultimate goal of becoming just the second 10-win team in school history is still at hand, McNeill reflected on his senior class once again on Wednesday.
The fourth-year coach said tight end Zico Pasut and fullback Jimmy Booth — who have both played multiple positions despite limited playing time — coined two phrases this season that will forever remain in his vocabulary.
During an August camp two-a-day that McNeill said was so hot he could see the heat emanating from the turf, Pasut trotted over to him in the midst of drills and offered the first of the phrases.
“He said, ‘Coach, this team and these seniors will be selfishly unselfish,’” McNeill said of Pasut at a news conference on Wednesday, the final day for ECU in Greenville before today’s flight to St. Petersburg, Fla., where the 9-3 Pirates will take on Ohio in Monday afternoon’s Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl.
McNeill said he immediately thought Pasut’s words were “cool.”
The other memorable sentence was spoken by Booth — who previously played on both lines before moving to fullback and becoming the primary punt rusher on special teams — to McNeill on the sideline during ECU’s blowout win over North Carolina in Chapel Hill.
“It was a very intense time on the sideline and I had my headphones on, and he came up to me,” McNeill said. “He said, ‘Coach, they’re not built like us.’ I was very proud of that. Those two seniors (both graduates) work hard and they do the things that I’ve asked them to do.”
Twenty active seniors will play their final games on Monday.
Although they won’t be able to match the record of the 1991 ECU team, which finished 11-1 and beat N.C. State at the Peach Bowl, the Pirates are mindful that they can become just the second-ever double-digit win team in school history.
Their reasons are little different, but coaches and players are united in understanding the value of finishing with a win, and the difference between nine wins and 10 wins.
“There’s a big difference, a big difference,” senior receiver Reese Wiggins said following Wednesday afternoon’s practice. “Nine is just kind of like you almost had 10, and not a lot of teams have 10 wins. They reminded us of the past history, and that would be a pretty big accomplishment for the team.”
McNeill’s view is more long term.
“It’s important for us to go into the offseason with a win,” he said. “It helps with workouts, thought process, mentality and all phases, not just recruiting and athletically, but academically as well.”
Contact Nathan Summers at email@example.com or 252-329-9595.
via The Daily Reflector.