|4 Van Eskridge|
A national honors candidate who has earned the reputation as one of the top free safeties in Conference USA, if not at the FBS level ... An intense and talented performer who should complete his collegiate career as a four-year starter after locking down back-to-back-to-back starting roles at two different positions as a redshirt freshman, sophomore and junior ... Was officially moved to the secondary (free safety) prior to the start of spring drills in 2007 after playing at the outside linebacker slot a year earlier ... Responded to move by topping entire squad with 104 tackles as a sophomore ... A punishing hitter who ranks among the strongest members of the defensive unit ... Opened spring scrimmage play with six stops (4/4) before adding five during second contest (4/8) ... Logged three tackles during the Purple-Gold Game (4/18) ... Recognized by position coach Rick Smith as the recipient of the "distinction of outstanding attitude, effort and leadership" award at the close of spring drills ... A Preseason All-Conference USA selection (first team) by Phil Steele Magazine and Sporting News who also garnered national first-team membership to the Consensus Draft Service's 2009 All-Underappreciated Team ... Rates as Conference USA's "Hardest Hitter" according to Sporting News.
2008: A two-year starting free safety that led all Pirate defenders with 59 solo tackles while playing in all 14 games ... Started the first 13 games of the season before an injury kept him out of the starting lineup against Kentucky in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl ... Tallied a total of 97 overall stops (third on unit) and was the team's co-leader with four interceptions ... Had a pair of picks against Tulsa in the Conference USA Championship Game, one vs. Memphis and one against N.C. State, which he returned 23 yards for a touchdown ... Both interceptions against Tulsa were collected in the fourth quarter, the last with 1:03 remaining to secure the Pirates' 27-24 triumph ... Earned an ESPN Game Day Final Helmet Sticker for his play against Golden Hurricane, which also included nine stops ... After collecting 10 tackles against West Virginia, he matched his career-high with 13 against Houston three weeks later ... Effort vs. Mountaineers, which also included a forced fumble, earned C-USA Defensive Player-of-the-Week honors ... Also credited with one tackle for lost yardage (0.5 vs. N.C. State, 0.5. vs. Kentucky), two forced fumbles, one recovered fumble and three pass breakups ... Other forced fumble came vs. N.C. State to halt a Wolfpack drive on a fourth-and-one play while only fumble recovery was vs. Houston (four-yard return) ... A first-team All-Conference USA selection by league coaches ... Named to third-team of All-Conference USA squad by Phil Steele Magazine ... Enjoyed a streak of 20 consecutive starts in the secondary before coming off the bench against Kentucky ... Recorded five or more tackles in 11 of 14 games ... Played key role in helping defensive unit hold three opponents to under 100 rushing yards (Tulane/76, UCF/82, UTEP/57) and two opponents to under 100 passing yards (West Virginia/72, Memphis/82) ... Was a three-time preseason All-Conference USA selection (first-team) by Athlon Sports, Blue Ribbon Yearbook and Lindy's ... Other tackle efforts of note came against Virginia (team-high nine, including eight solo), Kentucky (eight), N.C. State (seven), Marshall (seven) and Southern Miss (seven) ... Recipient of the defensive unit's Blackbeard Award (great plays) for the second consecutive season.
2007: Earned All-Conference USA honors (second-team) by league coaches ... Started 12 of 13 games (UCF) ... Led team with 104 total stops (55 solo, 49 assists) ... Ranked 11th in C-USA with 8.0 tackles per game ... Recorded 100th career tackle against Houston ... Established a new career-high with 13 stops at No. 5 West Virginia ... Returned a fumble 50 yards for a TD against UTEP, picking up C-USA Defensive Player-of-the-Week honors ... Recorded at least five tackles in all 13 games played ... Had at least eight stops in nine contests (Southern Miss/8, West Virginia/13, Houston/10, UCF/8, UTEP/8, N.C. State/9, Marshall/8, Tulane/8, Boise State/8) ... All eight stops against Broncos in Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl were solo hits ... Picked off first career pass against UAB, returning it seven yards ... Notched at least a half TFL in seven games ... Recorded 10 or more tackles in back to-back weeks (13/WVU and 10/Houston).
2006: Earned selection to both Conference USA All-Freshman squads (media, head coaches) and was an honorable mention all-league pick by the coaches ... Played in all 13 games and made six starts at outside linebacker, filling in for the injured Pierre Bell (Navy, UAB) and Quentin Cotton (Southern Miss, UCF, Marshall and USF) ... Posted a season-best eight tackles against USF in the Papajohns.com Bowl, one coming for a one-yard loss ... Stood fifth on the unit tackles with 60 (37 solo) ... Ranked second on the squad with 7.5 tackles for lost yardage (-22) and added three pass breakups, two recovered fumbles and one forced fumble ... Was moved to the linebacker position during preseason camp when Orlando Farrow went down with season-ending injury to provide depth ... Recorded four total tackles (three solo) at Navy in collegiate debut, which also included a start ... Was responsible for Navy's second turnover of the game in the third quarter after breaking up a pitch on the option for his first career forced fumble ... Recovered two Midshipmen fumbles in the third quarter for a total of six yards ... Other tackle efforts of note include UAB (seven, first career TFL), West Virginia (six, five solo), Virginia (five), SMU (six) and Southern Miss (five).
2005: Redshirted during initial season in Pirate program ... Turned in valuable effort as defensive scout team member, preparing wide receivers on a daily basis for record-breaking campaign ... Officially signed with Skip Holtz' program in February, 2005.
High School: A four-year starter at the safety position for the Golden Lions and coach Chris Norman ... Recorded 21 career interceptions ... Also experienced action at halfback and was one of SHS's top kickoff return specialist as a junior and senior ... Credited with 76 total tackles (61 solo), one forced fumble, eight pass breakups and two interceptions as a team captain in 2004 ... Offensively, rushed for 614 yards and nine touchdowns on 74 carries (8.3 ypc) while making 16 receptions for 542 yards (33.9 ypr) and eight scores as a senior ... Accumulated a total of 238 yards after each catch ... Scored 22 TDs (three as a returner) and totaled 428 kickoff return yards on eight attempts - an amazing average of 53.5 yards per bring-back ... Played in just one junior varsity contest as a freshman before promotion to varsity program (80 tackles, nine picks) ... Accounted for three return touchdowns in 2004 ... Logged 90 tackles and picked off six passes as a junior after making 103 stops and netting six more pass thefts as a sophomore ... In all, completed prep career with 23 interceptions ... Earned all-conference and all-county honors at the close of his senior campaign ... Selected to play on the North Carolina Shrine Bowl squad in December, 2004 ... Chosen as Cleveland County's 2004 Player-of-the-Year by the Shelby Star ... Earned two additional letters in basketball and four in track.
Personal: Full name is Vantrel B. Eskridge ... Born March 20, 1987 at Shelby, N.C. ... A communications major ... Cites family atmosphere as the best thing about ECU football ... Selects former safety Kyle Chase as favorite all-time Pirate player (and wears his No. 4 as a respect to former teammate) ... Lists playing basketball, music and watching sports as top hobbies ... Says John Madden is favorite sports announcer ... Credits parents and brothers as most influential people on career ... Choose the NCAA Basketball Tournament as a sports event he'd most like to attend.