In 2012, the Pirates came into the season with Rio Johnson as the starting quarterback. After their second game against South Carolina, a game which was their first loss, the Pirates went a different direction giving Shane Carden the starting role.
In his first career game as a starter Carden led the Pirates to their first conference win against Southern Mississippi. Despite stumbling against non-conference UNC Chapel Hill in his second start; Carden's ability to use both his arm and his legs ignited this offense.
With Carden at the helm and the offense clicking the Pirates won five of their last six games in 2012, finishing the season averaging around 31 points a game. Shane's favorite target throughout the season was sophomore wide receiver Justin Hardy. He eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark for the first time in his career while also bringing in 11 receiving touchdowns. The Pirate running game had their first 1,000 yard rusher since 2009 in Junior College transfer Vintavious Cooper; needless to say the offense has it's parts in place and this year's recruiting class only added more ferocity to this unit.
In the 2013 class ECU signed four offensive linemen, three wide receivers, a quarterback, a running back and a tight end. When looking at the signees it's clear Lincoln Riley wanted to add size up front to protect Carden along with speed on the outside he can use to attack defenses.
Terrell Lane, RB, 5-11, 225, Jr., Norton, Kansas
Terrell Lane is a speedy running back from Hutchinson Community College in Norton, Kansas. Last season Lane led the National Junior College Athletic Association in rushing with 1,632 yards and 15 touchdowns on 254 carries; that's an average of 6.4 yards per carry. Terrell Lane's ability to get around the edge will add another element to the running by committee approach Coach Ruffin McNeill has practiced since he came to ECU, and with Reggie Bullock graduating, this could be a much needed pickup. The primary running back from last season Vintavious Cooper will expect to get his carries. I believe the competition for starting back should raise the level of play at this position which could be one of the reasons the coaches wanted this kid.
Darren Dowdell, TE, 6-4, 225, Fr., Atlanta, Ga.
The Pirates picked up ESPN's seventeenth ranked tight end in the nation in Darren Dowdell. Dowdell is a pure athlete who played on both sides of the ball in high school at tight end and defensive end. In his junior season Dowdell had 50 receptions and found the end zone 10 times. A dominant tight end has been somewhat of a missing piece for this Pirate offense in recent years; this could be due to the play Justin Jones who has the size of a tight end with a great ability to go up and get the ball. Dowdell could prove to be a strong blocker in the running game and potentially a key "safety-valve" type tight-end for Carden, if he manages to stay healthy; he sat out most of his senior season due to an injury.
Trevon Brown, WR, 6-3, 190, Fr., Wilmington, N.C.
Trevon Brown is a big play receiver the Pirates who could make an immediate impact as a freshman. Brown finished his prep career as New Hanover High School's all-time leading receiver with 2,601 yards. He once scored six touchdowns in one game on six touches; four receiving touchdowns, one punt return and one kickoff return. Scoring that many points shows the pure explosiveness this wide receiver should bring to this offense. With Justin Hardy and Justin Jones both returning at receiver Trevon Brown and the others will add even more scoring ability to this receiving core.