GREENVILLE, N.C. - An emphasis on adding size, weight and personnel on both lines of scrimmage and enhancing team speed were fourth-year East Carolina Head Football Coach Ruffin McNeill's top priorities as the Pirates announced their 24-member 2013 signing class Wednesday.
Of the 24, 14 are projected to play on defense while 10 will play on offense. Defensively, the Pirates signed five linemen, five secondary performers and four linebackers. On offense, ECU is looking forward to adding four linemen, three wide receivers, a quarterback, running back and tight end to its roster.
"We're certainly excited about this particular class, "McNeill said. "I thought we addressed our needs well with the addition of some outstanding linemen on both sides of the ball, plus added to a vital component of our program with plenty of team speed. One thing we initially noticed and were impressed with was the intensity level at which they play."
Junior college transfers Terrell Lane, a running back from Hutchinson (Ka.) Community College, and Marquis Wallace, an offensive lineman from Lackawanna (Pa.) College, represent the overall class' only two upperclassmen - the fewest signed by the Pirates since 2010. Twenty-one of the 24 signees played at the high school level last fall, while defensive lineman Randall Anderson will join the ECU program from Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy.
More than half of the newcomers hail from outside North Carolina, including four from Virginia and three from Georgia. Eleven signees played at in-state programs, including five located east of the I-95 corridor.
In addition to those who competed at the prep level last fall, McNeill confirmed that 2012 ECU signee Lucas Thompson is expected to join the Pirate roster as early as this summer. Thompson, an Under Armour All-America performer as a defensive back from Winter Garden, Fla., did not report to fall camp and sat out the 2012 campaign.
East Carolina recorded an 8-5 overall mark and were co-champions of Conference USA's East Division with a 7-1 ledger last season. The Pirates opened the campaign splitting their first six contests (3-3) before closing the regular season with victories in five of the last six games (5-1) to earn the program's sixth bowl appearance in the last seven years.
ECU opens spring drills March 25 and will host Old Dominion on Aug. 31 to kick off the 2013 season.
*Officially enrolled at East Carolina in January of 2013
DL | 6-4 | 245 | Freshman | New Castle, Del. (Fork Union Academy) | Highlights
Officially enrolled early at ECU in January of 2013 and will join Pirates for spring drills, thus signed a grant-in-aid with the program instead of a letter-of-intent (per NCAA policy). Prep School/High School: Was a starter on the defensive line for head coach Colonel John Schuman during lone year at Fork Union Military Academy ... Helped FUMA to a 6-3 record in 2012 and played a key role for a defense that posted one shutout (against the junior varsity squad of Bethany College) ... Part of a unit that surrendered an average of just 10.1 points per game ... A First-Team Delaware Football Coaches Association All-State selection at defensive end as a senior at William Penn ... Led Colonials to a 6-5 overall record and a 6-2 mark in Blue Hen Flight A play during final campaign ... A First-Team Blue Hen Flight A selection following senior campaign ... Invited to play for the Blue squad in the 57th annual Blue-Gold All-Star Football Game, which was held at Delaware Stadium (Newark) in June, 2012 and benefitted the Delaware Foundation Reaching Citizens with Intellectual Disabilities ... Also lettered as a junior when WPHS went 4-6 and 4-3 against Blue Hen Flight A competition ... Earned first letter as a sophomore during the Colonials' 5-5 record, which included a 5-2 mark versus Blue Hen Flight A foes ... Picked up additional letters in track & field, and was a Honor Roll performer in the classroom ... Also considered NC State, Maryland, Wake Forest and Temple.
DL | 6-4 | 260 | Freshman | Havelock, N.C. (Havelock HS) | Highlights
High School: Played key role for back-to-back state championship squads for head coach Jim Bob Bryant, an East Carolina graduate who earned state coach-of-the-year honors from the Associated Press (in 2011) ... Helped lead Havelock to a 15-1 record in 2012, which also included a perfect Coastal Conference title-winning mark of 7-0 ... In all, part of a Rams' program that compiled a 31-1 record during junior and senior seasons ... HHS bounced back from an early 34-33 setback to New Bern with 14 consecutive victories to repeat as the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3A champions in 2012 (defeated Concord 55-21 in the title contest) ... As a junior, was named to the All-Coastal Conference and New Bern Sun Journal All-Area squads as a defensive end ... Credited with 56 tackles, five sacks, a forced fumble and recovery in 2011, while also experiencing playing time at tight end to help Rams to a 16-0 record and state crown - the school's first in 40 years ... Started on Havelock's varsity squad as a sophomore, playing on both sides of the ball, after beginning his prep career on the junior varsity unit as a freshman ... Ranks among the top 110 defensive tackles nationally and is listed among the top 60 prospects in North Carolina according to ESPN.com, which also awarded him three stars ... Selected as the MaxPreps.com Defensive Player-of-the-Game on two occasions during the 2012 campaign ... Booked 10 tackles, 1.5 sacks and a pass breakup vs. Jacksonville (Oct. 12) after posting five stops, one sack and two pass breakups vs. Kinston (Sept. 7) ... Earned additional letters in track, recording throws of 42 feet in the shot put and 135 in the discus ... Reportedly timed at 4.89 in the 40-yard dash and had lifts of 290 pounds (bench press) and 490 (squat) in program testing ... High school teammate of fellow ECU signee A.J. Coplon.
DL | 6-5 | 250 | Freshman | Clayton, N.C. (Clayton HS) | Highlights
First name is pronounced deh-MAH-zhey. High School: Listed among the Top 65 prospects in the state of North Carolina by MaxPreps.com as a senior ... Helped the Comets to a 9-4 overall record and a second-place finish in the Greater Neuse River Conference with a 6-1 divisional mark ... Named Greater Neuse River 4A Defensive Player-of-the-Year in 2012 ... Also selected to the First-Team Greater Neuse River 4A All-Conference squad ... A two-way player (DE, TE) for coach Gary Fowler ...Tabbed as the recipient of the program's "Outstanding Defensive Lineman Award" as a senior ... A strong classroom performer, earning inclusion on the Principal's List during fall semester ... Picked up additional varsity letters as a two-year starting center for the Comets' basketball squad (as junior and senior).
QB | 6-3 | 205 | Freshman | Cape Coral, Fla. (Island Coast HS) | Highlights
Officially enrolled early at ECU in January of 2013 and will join Pirates for spring drills, thus signed a grant-in-aid with the program instead of a letter-of-intent (per NCAA policy). High School: Topped all Southwest Florida quarterbacks in passing yards with 2,261 as a senior at Island Coast High School ... Completed 147-of-236 passes (62.3 percent), which included 20 touchdown tosses and just four interceptions to help the Gators to an 8-3 overall record and 5-1 6A District 11 mark (co-champions with South Fort Myers) ... On the ground, rushed for 300 yards on 80 carries ... ICHS advanced to the Florida High School Athletic Association 6A playoffs, but fell to eventual final-four participant Naples in the first round ... Earned Third-Team 6A All-State honors from the Associated Press while also picking up First-Team All-Area recognition from the Fort Myers News-Press ... Transferred into head coach Joe Bowen's program as a senior (from Cape Coral High School) after the Gators changed their offensive scheme from the veer to a pro-style attack, and followed by averaging 34.4 points per game in 2012 ... Selected as the News-Press Player-of-the-Week (Oct. 12) after leading ICHS to a 55-0 victory over Bishop Verot ... Was listed 33rd on the Orlando Sentinel's MidWest Florida Super 60 list heading into his senior campaign ... Helped lead CCHS to a 7-5 record (5-0 in league play) as a junior, completing 189-of-367 passes for 2,771 yards, 25 TDs and seven interceptions ... Additionally, rushed 55 times for 150 yards and three touchdowns for coach Brad Metheny ... Also served as the Seahawks' punter, averaging 37.7 yards per boot with a long of 56 yards and 11 downed inside the 20-yard line ... Named to the News-Press All-Area First Team unit as a punter in 2011. Personal: Born Baltimore, Md., but moved to Florida before entering third grade and remained there until the start of eighth grade ... Returned to Maryland and helped lead Perry Hall to the state recreational football title and subsequently earned a scholarship to Loyola Blakefield (Towson) before moving back to Florida after two junior varsity seasons ... Quarterbacked the Fort Myers (Fla.) Firecats to a state championship and third-place finish in the national Pop Warner playoffs while in seventh grade.
DB | 6-0 | 175 | Freshman | Atlanta, Ga. (Grady HS) | Highlights
High School: A two-way player at Grady High School, starting in the secondary on defense and as a wide receiver on offense ... A prime contributor to a Knights team that produced a 9-4 overall record and a 4-1 league ledger ... Rated as a three-star prospect and among the top 65 cornerbacks nationally by Scout.com as a senior ... Earned second-team all-state honors as a pass catcher in 2012 ... Had 13 receptions for 543 yards and six touchdowns ... On the defensive side of the ball, registered 57 stops (37 solo), forced a pair of fumbles, picked off two passes for 13 return yards and recorded six pass deflections ... Also had special teams role, returning a pair of punts for 78 yards ... Recovered a pair of fumbles during second round playoff action against Monroe Area, returning last pickup 80 yards for a touchdown ... Participated in the IMG Madden 7v7 Combine ... Testing numbers of note included times of 4.90 (40-yard dash) and 4.18 (20-yard shuttle), a 240-pound bench press, a 350-pound squat and a 31.4-inch vertical jump ... Also considered Cincinnati, Illinois, Indiana and Mississippi State ... High school teammate of fellow ECU signee Darren Dowdell.
WR | 6-3 | 190 | Freshman | Wilmington, N.C. (Wilmington HS) | Highlights
High School: Finished prep career at New Hanover High School as the program's all-time leading receiver with 2,601 yards ... Played a key role for a Wildcats' squad that rolled to an 11-2 record in 2012 and ventured deep into the playoffs before falling to eventual 4A state champion New Bern in the third round ... Made 64 catches for 1,182 yards and 19 touchdowns as a senior ... Also threw one pass that resulted in a 35-yard score ... Selected as the Wilmington Star News All-Area Offensive Player-of-the-Year and was a Mideastern Conference First-Team selection in '12 ... Named the Star News' Player-of-the-Week on Sept. 13 after scoring six touchdowns on six touches (four receptions, kickoff and punt return) against Purnell Swett ... A NCPreps.com and CarolinaPreps.com 4A All-State Team performer ... Earned all-area honors (Star News) and all-conference honors as a junior after recording 66 catches for 1,035 yards and 11 TDs ... Added 238 rushing yards for coach Kevin Motsinger ... Also lettered as a basketball standout, earning inclusion on the 2012 4A Mideastern Second Team ... Helped Kirk Angel's team as a vital contributor during the Wildcats' run to a state title ... Reportedly clocked at 4.4 in the 40-yard dash.
LB | 6-1 | 210 | Freshman | Lake City, S.C. (Lake City HS) | Highlights
High School: A four-year starter for Lake City who was rated a four-star prospect and stood among the top 20 linebackers nationally according to Scout.com ... Also ranked as the 18th-best overall recruit in South Carolina by Rivals.com ... A three-star pick who was the 14th-best prospect in the state by ESPN.com ... A 2012 preseason all-state squad pick by MaxPreps.com ... Selected to play for the Palmetto State in the 77th Annual Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas ... Tallied 70 tackles and two sacks for coach Jim Rowell and the Panthers as a senior ... Recorded 10 or more stops in three of his final five regular-season games ... Played on both sides of the ball, in fact, increased offensive role in 2012 by leading the team in rushing with 839 yards, which included a 109-yard effort in a playoff loss against Edisto ... A 2012 High School Sports Report South Carolina High School League Division I-AA All-State Team pick at linebacker ... Credited with a school single-season record 172 tackles as a junior, including 18 for lost yardage and 10 sacks ... Also forced eight fumbles and had an interception in 2011 that helped earn nods to the Florence Morning News' All-Pee Dee Team, WPDE's All-Zone squad and Rivals.com All-State Team ... In addition, was included on SCPrepNation.com's all-state (second team) team ... Played for a prep program that has produced NFL All-Pro defensive end Derrick Burgess, ex-NFL receiver Derrick Faison, Clemson linebacker alum Scotty Cooper and current South Carolina running back Shon Carson ... Competed as a wrestler for LCHS during the winter, and as a junior in the 195-pound weight class, advanced to the state championship match ... Wrestles in the 220-pound class this season ... Reportedly was clocked at 4.47 in the 40-yard dash ... Also considered NC State and Syracuse.
DB | 5-11 | 175 | Freshman | Havelock, N.C. (Havelock HS) | Highlights
High School: A two-year starter who helped Havelock to back-to-back state championships as a junior and senior ... Played key role in the Rams' 15-1 record in 2012, which also included a perfect Coastal Conference title-winning mark of 7-0 ... In all, was part of a HHS program that compiled a combined 31-1 record in 2011 and 2012 for coach Jim Bob Bryant, an East Carolina graduate who earned state coach-of-the-year honors from the Associated Press (in 2011) ... During '12 state title game, a 55-21 victory over Concord, scored on a 61-yard fumble return to break a 21-21 deadlock and later stripped a ball carrier and recovered a second fumble ... Rams bounced back from an early season 34-33 loss to New Bern and won 14-straight games to capture the NCHSAA crown ... Scored two receiving touchdowns, four punt return touchdowns and three interception returns for scores as a senior on the way to earning all-state honors from NCPreps.com, All-Coastal 3-A Conference and New Bern Sun Journal All-Area selections ... Defensively, collected 42 tackles (2.5 for lost yardage), intercepted seven passes for 219 yards, has eight breakups and forced six fumbles ... On the other side of ball, made 11 catches for 276 yards ... Selected to play for North Carolina in the Annual Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas ... A three-time MaxPreps.com Player-of-the-Game honoree for efforts against Currituck County (Nov. 2/two tackles, interception, offensive and special teams TD), Jacksonville (Oct. 12/ two interception returns for 142 yards and a TD, two receptions for 24 yards) and West Carteret (Oct. 19/1 tackle, pass breakup, 15-yard interception return, 53-yard punt return for a TD, two receptions for 29 yards and a TD) ... ... Success in 2012 followed a 16-0 campaign in 2011 that delivered the program's first state championship in 40 years ... As a junior, produced 35 stops and led HHS with five interceptions (174 return yards and two TDs) ... Earned a spot on the junior varsity squad as a freshman before being promoted to the varsity as a sophomore ... Reported testing numbers include a vertical leap of 36 inches and a 4.3 time in the 40-yard dash ... High school teammate of fellow ECU signee Malcom Ashley.
LB | 6-3 | 250 | Freshman | Charlotte, N.C. (Vance HS) | Highlights
High School: Tallied 60 tackles (33 solo), 8.0 sacks and one fumble recovery during senior campaign as both a defensive end and outside linebacker for coach Keith Wilkes at Vance ... A key contributor for a Cougar program that produced a 9-4 overall record, a 5-2 mark in 4A I-Meck play and a second-round North Carolina High School Athletic Association playoff appearance (after defeating Myers Park 40-17 in the opener) ... Attended Davidson Day School as a junior, collecting 18 tackles and 2.5 sacks in a three-game, injury-shortened season (before bouncing to back to earn a basketball letter during the winter) ... Opened prep career at Vance and lettered as a sophomore on a squad that went 11-4 and reached the semifinals of the state 4-AA playoffs ... Reportedly bench-presses 375 pounds, squats 500 and runs a 4.8 40-yard dash.
TE | 6-4 | 225 | Freshman | Atlanta, Ga. (Grady HS) | Highlights
High School: Ranks as the 17th-best tight end in the nation, stands among the Top 100 players in the state of Georgia and holds a three-star rating according to ESPN Recruiting Nation ... Also possesses a three-star designation by Scout.com ... Started on both sides of the ball (tight end and defensive end) at Grady High School ... Helped lead the Knights to a 9-4 overall record and a 4-1 league mark despite missing part of the season because of an injury ... Caught a touchdown pass in second quarter action against Monroe Area during the second round of the state playoffs as a senior ... Tallied 50 receptions and scored 10 touchdowns during junior campaign ... Caught a TD pass, netted an interception and logged a pair of sacks in a 34-16 win over Towers in 2011 ... Named the Knights' Co-Offensive Player-of-the-Year ... As a sophomore in 2010, contributed to Grady's 5AAA Regional title and a third-round appearance in the Georgia High School Association playoffs ...A strong academic performer who currently possesses a 3.4 cumulative grade point average in his last high school semester ... Also considered Georgia Tech, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisville, NC State and Wake Forest ... High school teammate of fellow ECU signee DeShawn Benton.
WR | 6-2 | 175 | Freshman | Suffolk, Va. (Kings Fork HS) | Highlights
High School: A First-Team All-Southeastern District selection at both wide receiver and defensive back for coach Joe Jones at Kings Fork High School ... Also named to the Virginian-Pilot's All-Tidewater First-Team Defense unit as a senior after helping the Bulldogs to a program-record seven wins (7-4) and the school's first-ever appearance in the Virginia High School League Division 5 Football playoffs (before suffering a 16-15 setback to Lakeland in the opening round) ... Had 45 receptions for 596 yards and seven touchdowns ... On defense, picked off three passes, had eight breakups and recovered three fumbles ... Top single-game effort was an 11-catch, 127-yard, one touchdown performance against Oscar Smith (Nov. 5) ... Earned selection to the 2012 Best of the 757 All-Camp Team following the Fifth Annual Best of the 757 Football Showcase in May ... Played in just two games as a junior in 2011 because of a hand injury ... Also a track letterman for KFHS, clearing 6 feet, 3 inches in the high jump and 21-4 in the long jump ... Member of relay teams that have turned in times of 45.06 (4x100) and 3:24.96 (4x400) ... A strong performer in the classroom who possesses a current grade point average of 3.3.
LB | 6-2 | 200 | Freshman | Winston-Salem, N.C. (North Forsyth HS) | Highlights
High School: A CarolinaPreps.com 3A All-State Team selection as a senior after recording 61 tackles, six quarterback hurries, 13 tackles for lost yardage and 10 sacks ... Also had an interception, a forced fumble, two fumble recoveries, two pass breakups and a defensive touchdown for coach Pete Gilchrist's Vikings ... The three-time 3A Mid-Point honoree was a two-year varsity starter after transferring into the NFHS program before his sophomore year ... Selected as the league's defensive player-of-the-year in 2012 after helping lead Vikings to a 6-5 overall record, a 4-1 conference mark and a bid to the North Carolina High School Athletic Association state playoffs (before falling to A.L. Brown 41-34 in the opening round) ... Checked in at No. 46 on the Fayetteville Observer's Top 50 college football prospects list prior to the 2012 campaign ... A key component of a defense that posted two shutouts (Asheboro and Southwestern Randolph) and held three opponents to less than 10 points ... Prep effort of note includes a 12-tackle performance in a 29-13 win over Pfafftown Reagan (junior season) ... Finished 2011 campaign with 29 solo tackles and 21 assists despite being hindered by a nagging injury ... Also lettered in basketball, averaging 4.9 points and 4.4 rebounds per contest for a 24-5 Vikings basketball team in 2011-12 ... Reportedly was timed at 4.6 in the 40-yard dash.
WR | 6-1 | 170 | Freshman | Austin, Texas (Stephen F. Austin HS) | Highlights
High School: On the receiving end of 36 passes for 439 yards (12.2 ypr) and six touchdowns as a senior at Stephen F. Austin High School ... Led Maroons with 14 kick returns for 159 yards (11.4 ypr), rushed for an additional 204 yards on 41 carries and completed three-of-six passes for 32 yards and a TD ... A two-year varsity starter for coach Mike Rosenthal, who was a Monogram winner at Notre Dame and enjoyed an NFL career with the New York Giants, Minnesota Vikings and Miami Dolphins ... Rates as a three-star recruit according to Scout.com and ESPN.com ... A First-Team All-District (15-5A) selection at wide receiver and kick returner in 2012 .... One of only three wide receivers to earn a spot on the Austin American-Statesman's All-Central Texas 2012 preseason football team ... Also was a Fanstand/KJCE AM 1370 Preseason All-Austin Area Team pick as a receiver ... Contest of note was a five-catch, 65-yard, two-touchdown effort against Westwood in the Maroons' season opener ... Caught 41 passes for 359 yards and four touchdowns as a junior ... Also ran for 55 yards and a score 42 attempts and completed 27-of-53 passes for 280 yards with four TDs and four interceptions in 2011 ... Junior season highlight was a three-touchdown passing performance against Akins ... Split the District 15-5A Newcomer-of-the-Year award with Bowie junior running back Gino Jonassaint in '11. Personal: Son of former Pirate letterman (1988-91) Robert Jones, who remains the only consensus (AP, Scripps-Howard, Football News, Walter Camp, Kodak, College Football Writers Association, College & Pro Football Newsweekly) All-America performer (1991) in the history of the ECU program ... Father also earned All-America honors out of his linebacking position as a junior in 1990 and was a part of three Super Bowl championship teams with the Dallas Cowboys (1993, 1994, 1996) ... Uncle, Jeff Blake, was quarterback on the 1991 East Carolina team and had an extended career in the NFL ... Blake placed seventh in the balloting for the Heisman Trophy as a senior with the Pirates when he passed for 3,073 yards ... Cousin, Torre Blake, plays for the ECU volleyball team ... Cousin Emory Blake, who played for Auburn, caught a touchdown pass in the 2010 national championship game ... Older brother, Cayleb Jones, is a wide receiver at Texas.
RB | 5-11 | 225 | Junior | Norton, Kan. (Hutchinson CC) | Highlights
Junior College: Led the National Junior College Athletic Association in rushing as a sophomore with 1,632 yards and 15 touchdowns on 254 carries - an average of 6.4 yards per attempt ... Averaged 136.0 rushing yards per game and topped unit in both touchdowns (18) and points (108) ... Long rush was a 64-yarder ... Was also a receiving threat out of the backfield with 24 catches for 176 yards and three scores ... Averaged 7.3 yards per reception. High School: Ran for 1,051 yards and seven TDs on 159 rushes (6.6) during senior season at Norton High School ... Caught four passes for 58 yards, and as a two-way starter for the Bluejays, was credited with 47 tackles (30 solo), 2.0 sacks, two interceptions, a fumble recovery and a forced fumble ... As a junior, picked up 1,433 yards on 221 attempts (6.5) and scored 20 TDs, one of which was a 99-yarder ... Averaged 30.8 yards per catch, logging 123 yards on just four receptions ... Defensively, tallied 51 stops (44 solo).
OL | 6-3 | 315 | Freshman | New Bern, N.C. (New Bern HS) | Highlights
High School: A three-year letterwinner and two-year starter for coach Bobby Curlings and the Bears ... Helped lead New Bern High School to an undefeated season (15-0) as a senior and the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 4A state championship after a 39-38 win over Porter Ridge ... Considered one of the anchors of an offense that scored 645 points (topped 40 on nine occasions) - an average of 43.0 per game ... Credited with 35 pancake blocks in 2012 ... Suffered a season-ending knee injury and did not play in any of the playoff games ... Was selected to play in the Annual Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas, but missed contest due to the aforementioned injury ... Earned all-area honors from the New Bern Sun Journal as a senior ... Played an integral role in the Bears' 12-2 campaign in 2011, which included a perfect 5-0 mark in 4A Mideastern League play ... NBHS reached the 4A NCHSAA state semifinals before falling 61-28 to eventual state champion Scotland County (a loss the Bears later avenged with a 23-6 victory in the '12 state semifinals) ... Keyed a line as a junior that helped New Bern average 40.4 points and over 400 yards of offense per game ... A First-Team All-Mideastern Conference and New Bern Sun Journal All-Area pick in 2011 ... Reportedly turned in testing lifts of 345 pounds (bench press) and 415 (squat), while running a 5.25 40-yard dash and producing a vertical jump over 20 inches. Personal: Oldest brother, Ben, was a 6-foot, 245-pound two-way lineman who was part of New Bern's 2007 state 4-AA championship team as a sophomore, while middle brother, Jonathan, was labeled as a physical and intense player who earned first-team All-Mideastern 4-A Conference honors as a senior in 2010 at linebacker ... Father was a high school quarterback, while first cousin Fou Fonoti will be entering his second season as Michigan State's starting right tackle in 2012.
DL | 6-1 | 300 | Freshman | Virginia Beach, Va. (Ocean Lakes HS) | Highlights
High School: Tallied 112 total tackles, 19 for lost yardage, and 12 sacks to lead Ocean Lakes to a 14-1 overall record and an AAA Beach League title with a 10-0 mark as a senior ... Also credited with a punt and two field goal blocks ... Helped head coach Chris Scott and the Dolphins reach the Virginia High School League Group AAA Division 6 State Championship Game in 2012 before dropping title contest to Bird (14-10) ... A mainstay for a defensive unit that held opponents to just 118 points in 15 games - an average of 7.9 points per contest ... In all, OLHS posted six shutouts and held 14 of 15 opponents to 15 points or fewer ... Earned VirginiaPreps.com All-Eastern Region Second Team and Virginian-Pilot All-Tidewater First-Team honors after senior campaign ... A three-star recruit who is rated among the top 45 prospects in the state according to ESPN.com ... Cited as the No. 3 prospect in South Hampton Roads by the Virginian-Pilot because of his "athleticism and explosiveness off the ball" ... Selected to the Virginia High School Coaches Association Second Team All-State and AAA Beach First-Team squads as a junior after playing a role in the Dolphins' 8-3-1 overall record (8-2 conference) ... Suffered knee injury during sophomore season which limited play ... Also considered Maryland.
LB | 6-1 | 225 | Freshman | Statesville, N.C. (Statesville HS) | Highlights
Officially enrolled early at ECU in January of 2013 and will join Pirates for spring drills, thus signed a grant-in-aid with the program instead of a letter-of-intent (per NCAA policy). High School: A four-year varsity starter (defensive end, running back, quarterback, linebacker) for head coach Randall Gusler at Statesville High School ... A three-star recruit according to ESPN.com and Scout.com who was No. 19 on Tom Lemming's Top 25 Big Backs list ... ESPN.com also labeled him as the 24th-best prospect in the state North Carolina ... Selected to play in the Annual Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas ... Chosen as the 3A North Piedmont Player-of-the-Year ... Also earned all-state honors (as a linebacker) from NCPreps.com and all-region accolades from the Charlotte Observer ... Was No. 17 on the Fayetteville Observer Top 50 "college football prospects" list prior to the 2012 campaign and was No. 23 on the Raleigh News & Observer's Top 25 list ... Helped Greyhounds to a 13-2 overall record and 6-0 mark in league play as a senior ... SHS advanced to the state semifinals before falling to Charlotte Catholic in a game where he completed 13-of-28 passes for 201 yards and two touchdowns ... Keyed offensive unit that scored 625 points - an average of 41.7 per game - by throwing for 1,904 yards and 16 TDs, and rushing for 677 yards and 18 additional scores ... Defensively, was credited with 70 tackles, 5.0 sacks, an interception and 99-yard fumble recovery returned for a TD ... Accounted for 266 total yards (169 passing, 97 rushing), all four touchdowns and came up with a key run in the final two minutes to lead the Greyhounds to a 27-21 victory over Belmont South Point in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3AA West Final (state quarterfinals) ... Slated to serve as the Greyhounds' running back as a junior, but injuries forced a change of positions ... Promptly delivered a 55-yard touchdown pass on his first throw ... Overall, completed 108-of-199 passes for 1,427 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2011 ... Also rushed 172 times for 750 yards and 10 scores while leading the Statesville to a 6-2 record over their last eight games when he was starting QB ... An All-North Piedmont Conference pick as a junior after gaining 1,164 yards and 22 TDs as a running back during his sophomore season ... Caught eight balls for 70 yards out of the backfield.
DL | 6-0 | 285 | Freshman | Goose Creek, S.C. (Goose Creek HS) | Highlights
High School: A four-year varsity letterman who rates as a three-star recruit and the 20th-best prospect in the state of South Carolina according to ESPN.com ... Provided leadership for a Goose Creek High School team as a senior that posed a 13-0 record and tallied a 35-25 win over Bluffton in the second round of the South Carolina High School League Class 4A Division II playoffs ... Anchored a defense that allowed just 157 points (12.1 ppg) for head coach Chuck Reedy, a former collegiate assistant coach at Clemson (when current ECU coach Ruffin McNeill served as a graduate assistant) and head coach at Baylor ... Credited with 44 stops (25 solo), 14.0 tackles for lost yardage, 3.0 sacks, two interceptions, a forced fumble and one safety ... Got off to a hot start, tallying 18 tackles (eight solo) in the first four games of the 2012 season ... A SCVarsity.com All-State honoree who was selected to South Carolina Automobile Dealers Association North-South All-Star Football Game following senior year ... Earned player-of-the-game designations by MaxPreps.com on three occasions during the 2012 campaign - vs. Colleton County (Aug. 31/two tackles and two TFL), vs. Beaufort (Sept. 28/three solo hits, six total stops, two TFL, defensive TD) and vs. Carolina Forest (Oct. 5/two tackles, two TFL, one sack, two interceptions - one returned 42 yards for a score) ... A major contributor to the Gators' state (South Carolina High School League 4A Division II) championship run that culminated with a 37-21 victory over Greenwood as a junior ... Collected 77 tackles and registered 5.0 sacks for a squad that went 14-1 and also claimed the Region 7-AAAA title in 2011 ... Part of a GCHS program that advanced to the Division II-AAAA Lower State Finals in 2009 and 2010 ... Rushed for nearly 600 yards and scored 10 touchdowns as a co-starter at fullback in 2010 ... Reportedly timed at 4.8 in the 40-yard dash.
DB | 5-11 | 175 | Freshman | Montpelier, Va. (Patrick Henry HS) | Highlights
Plans to become a two-sport student-athlete at ECU with participation on Curt Kraft's track squad (in addition to football). High School: Recorded 34 receptions for 858 yards and 10 touchdowns as one of Patrick Henry High School's top pass catchers while also starting in the Patriots secondary on defense in 2012 ... His 25.2 yards-per-catch average ranked second in the Central Region ... Named First-Team All-Central Region (WR) by VirginiaPreps.com and the Richmond Times Dispatch as a senior ... Also earned second-team All-Metro honors as a wide receiver and was a First-Team All-Colonial District by the Richmond Times Dispatch as a defensive back and wide receiver ... Scored at least one offensive touchdown in six of 10 games and posted 100-yard receiving games on five occasions ... Caught a season-long 75-yard touchdown pass against Ashland (Sept. 15) and followed that with a 65-yarder on the way to a six-catch, 142-yard performance against Lee-Davis (Sept. 22) ... Against John Marshall (Sept. 28), caught four passes for 132 yards and three scores (9, 55, 61) ... Hauled in a 55-yard TD pass against Douglas Freeman to cap the night with 138 receiving yards (Oct. 5) ... Posted his second three-score game of the season against Deep Run (Oct. 12) and finished the contest with 138 yards ... Returned a fumble recovery for a touchdown against Thomas Jefferson (Oct. 22) and scored on a 32-yard pass play in the second quarter against Mills Godwin (Nov. 2) ... Also a decorated track & field athlete who turned in personal-best times to place second at the state finals in the 110-meter hurdles (14.03) and fifth in the 300-meter hurdles (39.05) during junior campaign ... Also set a career-best mark in the 60-meter hurdles (8.12).
DB | 5-10 | 170 | Freshman | Powder Springs, Ga. (Hillgrove HS) | Highlights
High School: Played key role for a Hillgrove High School program that advanced to the Georgia High School Association 6A Playoffs before falling to Camden County in 2012... Helped the Hawks to an overall record of 6-5 and a 5-3 mark in 6A Region 4 play as a senior with 23 tackles (16 solo), three interceptions and six pass breakups ... Anchored a defense that held six opponents to 15 or fewer points during his senior season, which included consecutive shutouts against Campbell and Pebblebrook ... Also starred as a kickoff return specialist, recording a 78-yarder to open the Pebblebrook contest and adding a 55-yarder against Kennesaw Mountain to begin second half action ... Defensively, picked off a pass against Beach in the first round of the Georgia High School Association playoffs as a junior ... Netted 29 stops (21 solo), four pass thefts and seven breakups in 2011 as Hawks rolled to an 11-1 record (7-0 league mark) ... Tallied 24 tackles (15 solo), five picks and 10 PBUs as a key contributor in 2010 ... In all, finished prep career with 76 hits (52 solo), 12 interceptions and 23 aerial knock-downs ... Participated in the 2012 Nike Combine circuit, posting an electronically-timed 4.69 in the 40-yard dash, a 4.2 clip in the 20-yard shuttle, a 31.6-inch vertical leap and a 82.38 SPARQ score. Personal: Brother, Traye, played collegiately in the Big 10 Conference at Minnesota before signing with the San Diego Chargers as an undrafted free agent in 2010.
OL | 6-8 | 330 | Freshman | Kernersville, N.C. (East Forsyth HS) | Highlights
Officially enrolled early at ECU in January of 2013 and will join Pirates for spring drills, thus signed a grant-in-aid with the program instead of a letter-of-intent (per NCAA policy). High School: Selected to the 2012 Associated Press All-State squad, as voted on by 17 statewide media members ... A two-year varsity starter who earned three-star designation according to Scout.com ... Helped guide Todd Willert's East Forsyth High School program to a 13-1 record as a senior, which included a 6-0 mark in 4-A Piedmont Triad League play ... Eagles did not suffer a loss until the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 4AA quarterfinals (a 25-15 setback to eventual state champion Butler) ... Anchored an offensive line from the guard position that helped EFHS amass over 4,000 yards and score 568 points - an average of 40.6 per game ... Tallied 29 pancake blocks during final campaign and allowed only one sack in 138 chances ... In addition to AP all-state status, also selected First Team All-Piedmont Triad 4-A Conference, NCPreps.com 4A All-State, CarolinaPreps.com 4A All-State, Triad Sports Weekly All-Forsyth County and Winston-Salem Journal All-Northwest (region) in 2012 ... Played key role in East Forsyth's 9-3 campaign (5-1 league record) in 2011, earning All-Piedmont Triad 4-A Conference honors as a junior ... Offensive unit averaged 30.9 points per outing and reached 40-point plateau on three occasions on the way to a NCHSAA first-round playoff appearance ... Also named to the Triad Sports Weekly All-Forsyth County First-Team ... Spent freshman season on junior varsity squad before a late-season sophomore year promotion to varsity. Personal: Due to his height and the absence of Forsyth County middle school programs, Smith didn't play organized football until the ninth grade.
DB | 6-2 | 190 | Freshman | Raleigh, N.C. (Wakefield HS) | Highlights
High School: Played his senior season for head coach Rod Sink at Wakefield High School after opening prep career at Wake Forest-Rolesville as a freshman, sophomore and junior ... Listed as a three-star recruit and the 47th-best prospect in the state of North Carolina according to ESPN.com ... A key part of a Wolverines' squad that posted an 11-2 overall mark and a 6-1 4A Cap Eight record in 2012 ... WHS advanced to the second round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 4AA playoffs before falling to Garner Magnet ... Earned Cap Eight First-Team All-Conference honors ... Tallied 45 tackles, seven pass breakups and one blocked kick as a junior at Wake Forest-Rolesville ... Helped the Cougars to an 11-3 record (6-1 in 4A Cap Eight play) in 2011 by contributing to a defense that allowed only 19.6 points per game ... Stood ninth among all Cap Eight tacklers during junior campaign ... Part of a Rolesville program that rolled to a 14-1 mark (6-0 league) in 2009 during freshman year, suffering only loss to Jack Britt in the state semifinals ... Participated in the 2011 Under Armour Combine and the 2010 Schuman's National Underclassmen Combine in Durham and received the DB MVP award ... Rated as the No. 8 athlete at the Nike combine in Charlotte ... Also earned track letters at Rolesville as a 400-meter specialist ... Reportedly was timed at 4.51 in the 40-yard dash.
OL | 6-5 | 305 | Junior | Henrico, Va. (Lackawanna College) | Highlights
Originally signed with West Virginia in 2010 and transferred to Marshall prior to the start of the season before attending Blinn (Texas) Junior College and Lackawanna College ... Reported to preseason camp in Morgantown and participated with the Mountaineers for the first 10 days before departing the WVU program. Junior College (Lackawanna): A starter on the line for an offensive unit that averaged 34.7 points per game ... Helped Falcons to a 5-5 overall record and a 2-4 ledger in Northeast Football Conference play in 2012 ... Played for head coach Mark Duda, who starred in the National Football League (spending six seasons with the St. Louis/Phoenix Cardinals) ... Previous players from Lackawanna who recently signed with the Pirates include linebackers Orlando Farrow and Danny Muhwezi, who both joined the ECU program as mid-year additions in December, 2005. High School: A three-star recruit according to ESPN.com who earned selection to the 2009 VirginiaPreps.com AAA All-State squad (offense) ...Also a two-time First-Team All-Central Regional honoree for head coach Stu Brown ... Included among Virginia's Top 25 prospects by Rivals.com and the Roanoke Times ... A three-time All-Capital District selection ... Helped lead Varina to an 8-2 record, a district championship game appearance and a No. 12 state ranking as a senior ... Key component of an offensive line that paved the way for a 1,700-yard rusher and a unit average of 33.5 points a game ... Also garnered a Top 30 ranking in the state of Virginia by VirginiaPreps.com.
OL | 6-4 | 290 | Freshman | Wilmington, N.C. (Laney HS) | Highlights
High School: Totaled 56 tackles, including 33 solo hits, one sack and two fumble recoveries as a senior for head coach Greg Ditz at Laney High School ... Helped the Buccaneers to a 5-5 regular season record and an appearance in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 4AA playoffs where they suffered an opening round setback to Middle Creek ... A three-star recruit and a top 50 North Carolina prospect according to ESPN.com ... A two-time Wilmington Star News All-Area First Team selection (as an offensive lineman) ... Also earned First-Team All-Mideastern Conference honors as a junior in 2011 after contributing to LHS's 8-4 record and second-round playoff appearance ... Victory against Wakefield in the opening round was the school's first post-season triumph since 2001 ... In all, finished junior campaign with 32 stops (28 solo, six tackles for lost yardage) and graded out at 88 percent for play on the offensive line ... Defensive efforts of note in 2011 include an eight-tackle performance against Hoggard and a seven-stop outing against J.H. Rose ... Was a two-way starter as a sophomore, junior and senior after playing at the junior varsity level as a freshman ... Participated in the 2011 Shrine Bowl Combine and completed 17 repetitions of 335 pounds on the bench press and 42 reps of 315 pounds on the squat lift ... Reportedly ran a time of 4.9 in the 40-yard dash ... Also a standout letterman on the mat, finishing seventh in the NCHSAA state wrestling tournament at 285 pounds as a junior ... As a senior, helped Buccaneers to the Mideastern 4A Conference Dual Meet Wrestling championship, defeating Hoggard (51-21), J. H. Rose (65-10), New Hanover (70-12) and three-time defending champion New Bern (45-23) to take the title ... Captured all five 285-pound matches, two with a pin, to help team claim the championship ... Also took first place in the 285-pound class at the Battle at the Beach, leading team to a first-place finish among eight squads.