Fourth-year head coach Ruffin McNeill
Feb. 6, 2013
GREENVILLE, N.C. - East Carolina University Head Football Coach Ruffin McNeill addressed members of the media Wednesday about the 2013 recruiting class. The following are selected comments:
"As always it is a great day to be a Pirate. This is a day that is anticipated by all football coaches around the country. A lot of hard work goes into getting to today by the coaching staff, the staff in the office and everybody that supports us. This morning when I and the rest of the staff began to see those faxes start coming through it was very exciting. To see 19 grown men huddling around the fax machine waiting for something from an 18-year old, is always an interesting site. For 28 years I have had the privilege of being at the college level and experiencing this day firsthand and it is always exciting to me. The recruiting part of football is year round and for quite a few of these players, we began evaluating and scouting them years ago.
"Every coach around the country says they like their class, but I really do like our class. I feel they will fit into what we were looking for and what this program needs. They are what I want our program to be and I like what the players bring to the table."
"We feel good about this group and the way we attacked filling out our roster and finding players that fit our program. We talked about what we wanted to do a year ago on the defense, and that was to keep developing depth. I thought we did that very well last year especially along our defensive line. Last season, if someone got nicked up we were able to replace and reload with another young man that often times was just as productive. Depth always leads to strong competition and I think we did that again this year with our defensive line and linebacker commits. The linebackers we signed give us range and are able to play in open space. With new defensive coordinator Rick Smith coming aboard in the January, we still wanted the players to be familiar with their roles in our defensive system. The linebackers we signed really fit into the multiple-based system that Rick wants to run. We felt like we had to add depth and productivity on the backend of our defense among the defensive backs to give us additional strength, speed and length. I like the way this group fits all those criteria. I can't wait for the Pirate Nation to meet them. All the defensive backs we signed have a similar look and personality."
"I was really proud of how organized the coaching staff was throughout this process. Everything went as smoothly as it possibly could in the way we evaluated and got our players onto campus. Often times quite a bit luck is involved in today to make sure you get the right guys for your program. Recruiting is always a battle. You win some and you lose some. I like the ones that we won today."
"Offensively we added six skill position players at receiver, tight end, running and quarterback. Tight end Darren Dowdell and three receivers in Trevon Brown, Davon Grayson and Isaiah Jones all can really run and attack the football. We like that about each one of them. They all have length, range and can stretch the field and will be great additions to the program. The running back, Terrell Lane, is a player that can jump cut and get positive yardage. On the offensive line, we feel like we added a strong group. Marquis Walker in particular will be able to come in and immediately compete for playing time.
"Kirk Donaldson is a player that we think has the mobility to play tight end, but we have signed him as a outside linebacker. He is going to be one of those linebackers that will play over a tight end and can still rush the passer from the edge. We as a staff, me as the head coach and Kirk all agree that he will play linebacker here.
"We stretched our tentacles in the state and signed 11 players from the state of North Carolina. We have stressed hitting those players in-state for years. Our recruiting also took us to the talent-rich areas of Virginia Beach and Richmond, Virginia. We began establishing ourselves in that state last year. We even went a little bit further up the East Coast to Delaware this season to add a defensive lineman in Randall Anderson. We still hit the state of South Carolina pretty hard and got some good players out of there like linebacker Devaris Brunson and defensive lineman Mike Myers. Tight end Darren Dowdell and defensive back DaShawn Benton are from Georgia. Benton can really run and cover. We also received commitments from recruits in Florida (Kurt Benkert) and Texas (Isaiah Jones)."
On if the BIG EAST Conference was sold to recruits this season in recruiting?
"Yes we did. I thought it gave us a big advantage out on the road. Many of the parents and the recruits that we talked to were interested in us joining the BIG EAST. The way the conference will be aligned in the future wasn't as big of a concern for them. What the recruits and parents were interested in was the vision of where we would be heading as a football team and as an athletic program."