ECU Signing Day recap

Of the 22 new Pirates, six are JUCOs and 14 are either three- or four-star prospects, with 10 already on campus getting a head start on their college careers

Eamon Queeney—North State Journal
East Carolina head coach Scottie Montgomery speaks with his players before the East Carolina Purple and Gold spring football game at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in Greenville (Eamon Queeney/North State Journal)

NEEDSScottie Montgomery can use help across the board after a forgettable 3-9 season, but the most immediate areas of concern are a defensive line that generated only eight sacks in 12 games and an offensive line that allowed its quarterbacks to get sacked 31 times for 222 yards in losses while taking a physical pounding even on plays in which they got their passes off. Although the issues up front probably contributed to a rushing attack that ranked 10th in the 12-team AAC, the Pirates could also use some immediate help at running back.EARLY ENROLLEESThat need for immediate help was addressed by the addition of 10 mid-year additions, all of which are eligible to take part in spring practice to get a head start on the 2017 season. The most significant of the newcomers is quarterback Kingsley Ifedi. A three-star prospect who rolled up 5,144 total yards and 64 touchdowns last season at Vance High, he could put himself in position to challenge for the starting job in the fall depending on how quickly he grasps the playbook. The other early enrollees are three-star defensive end Taijh Alston, outside linebacker Ben Norris, four-star wide receiver Leroy Henley of Deerfield Beach, FL, the highest-rated freshman in this year’s class, fellow three-star receiver Jayden Borders of Shelby and offensive tackle Matt Morgan of Wendell, along with JUCO transfers Cannon Gibbs (inside linebacker), Marcus Holton (cornerback), Dqmarcus Shaw (offensive tackle) and Eric Weber (tight end).OUTLOOKMontgomery succeeded in addressing his team’s most pressing shortcoming by signing five defensive linemen, two of which are junior college transfers more likely to be ready to step in and help right away. The best of the bunch is Tyree Owens, a three-star pass rusher who started his career at West Virginia and later committed to Texas A&M before flipping to ECU. The Pirates also got a solid late addition in Roxboro’s Kennan Solomon, who committed on Tuesday. Montgomery also signed three offensive linemen while adding depth at linebacker and defensive back. He also strengthened an already strong receiving corps by holding off a late challenge from Virginia Tech for Blake Proehl, son of former Carolina Panthers star Ricky Prohel and brother of UNC’s Austin Proehl. Then there’s the added diversity to the running game with Trace Christian, who rushed for 1,000 yards in each of the last three seasons, and Darius Pinnix, who is also a gifted receiver out of the backfield. Of the 22 new Pirates, six are JUCOs and 14 are either three- or four-star prospects.RECRUIT LISTPlayerPositionHeight, WeightHometown (School)Cannon GibbsLB6-2, 230 Brandon, Miss. (Jones JC)Marcus HoltonDB6-0, 160Tallahassee, Fla. (GA Military College)Tyree OwensDL6-4, 285Oviedo, Fla. (Copiah Lincoln CC)Dqmarcus ShawOL6-4, 320Batesville, Miss. (Itawamba CC)Eric WeberTE6-2, 230Blythewood, S.C. (SW Missisippi CC)Taijh AlstonDL6-4, 215Cameron, N.C. (Union Pines)Jayden BordersWR5-11, 170Shelby, N.C. (Shelby)Leroy HenleyWR6-1, 180Pompano Beach, Fla. (Deerfield)Kingsley IfediQB6-3, 205Charlotte, N.C. (Vance)Matt MorganOL6-5, 275Clayton, N.C. (Corinth Holders)Delvontae HarrisDB6-0, 185 Newnan, Ga. (Newnan)Brandon HendersonDL6-5, 275Greenwood, S.C. (GA Military College)Ja-Quane NelsonDL6-3, 280High Point, N.C. (Central)Blake ProehlWR6-1, 170Charlotte, N.C. (Providence)John SpellacyOL6-1, 285Westlake, Ohio (St. Ignatius)Davondre RobinsonDB6-0, 190Holly Hill, S.C. (Lake Marion)Kennan SolomonDL6-5, 275Roxboro, N.C. (Person)Trace ChristianRB6-0, 220Longwood, Fla. (Lake Brantley)Darius PinnixRB6-0, 225Elon, N.C. (Western Alamance)Bruce BivensLB6-0, 220Houston, Tex. (Davis)Mydreon VinesWR6-1, 170Greenville, N.C. (JH Rose)Ben NorrisLB6-3, 220Charlotte, N.C. (Myers Park)