Three things to watch for: Summer workouts

There a number of different talking points going into ECU's summer workouts. Here are the three that we'll be watching closely.

As the old saying goes, "championships are won during the summertime." Though I don't put too much stock into clichés, there are still a couple of important storylines to keep an eye on for the East Carolina football team this summer.

Lucas Thompson:

Remember when Thompson, the No. 6 safety on ESPNU's Top 150, announced to the nation he was going to play his collegiate football at ECU – over Miami and South Carolina – in the 2012 Under Armor All-American game?

In the social media era, the Pirate Nation immediately became obsessed with him and how he could impact a depleted secondary.

He never showed up. ECU ranked outside the Top 100 in pass defense and many continue to wonder whether or not the 6-foot-2, 185 pound defensive-back would ever suit up in a purple and gold uniform.

Thompson was academically ineligible in 2012 and subsequently, enrolled at Cheshire Academy in Connecticut. Despite the complications, Head coach Ruffin McNeill stayed in touch with him and earlier this year, Thompson reaffirmed his commitment to ECU by resigning a letter of intent.

During the spring, McNeill said he spoke to Thompson weekly and the expectation is for him to attend summer workouts and, if eligible, play for the Pirates this upcoming season.

The Backfield

ECU's running backs were a top story in the spring session for all of the wrong reasons; injuries and the suspension of 1,000 yard rusher Vintavious Cooper. This summer, Cooper returns to the team and will be joined by the top two rushers in junior college last season.

Breon Allen had 1,632 yards rushing and 20 touchdowns in twelve games for Snow College (Utah). Allen's sights were set on Pittsburgh coming out of high school, but he failed to meet the NCAA's qualifying standards and was forced to take a different route.

Allen provides a lot of speed to the Pirates' spread offense and will make an immediate impact catching the ball out of the backfield.

Terrell Lane put up nearly identical numbers as Allen – 1,629 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns – but collected them with a different brand of running. Lane, a 5-foot-11, 215 pound transfer from Hutchinson Community College (Kan.) is a power-back and will be a lethal weapon on goal-line carries.

Blend all three of those running backs together, in addition to recovering junior Chris Hairston, and ECU's traditionally pass-happy, Air-Raid offense becomes a lot more balanced and dangerous.

Injuries

There are always those stories you hear about a key player sustaining a season-ending injury during the spring or summer sessions. Assuming that doesn't happen to ECU, there still remains a couple players recovering from concerning injuries.

Senior safety Damon Magazu, who defensive coordinator Rick Smith has called the heart of his defense, missed the entire spring due to a back injury. The expectation is for Magazu to be ready in time for fall camp.

Last season's leading tackler Jeremy Grove was limited this spring with a shoulder injury, but is closing in on 100 percent and will return to normal spot in the linebacking corps.

Offensively, Hairston was slated to carry the load at running back before hurting his shoulder during the early stages of spring camp. Sophomore Cory Hunter filled the void nicely in his absence. No word on when Hairston is expected to return.


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