Meet ECU's Early-Enrollees

In the spring semester, four members of ECU's 2013 recruiting class got a head start on learning new systems, as well as how to balance both schoolwork and football.

Four members of East Carolina's recruiting class of 2013 just completed their first semester on the team as early enrollees. The rest of the class will soon join the quartet, but for Tristian Mumford, Kurt Benkert, Brandon Smith and Randall Anderson, they've already began the process of learning how to manage their time and adapt to a much faster brand of football.

Of the four, Mumford is believed to have the best chance for playing time, competing amongst a talented front seven. Recruited as a linebacker, the 6-foot-1, 232 pounder also played defensive end, running back and even quarterback at Statesville High School (Statesville, N.C.).

His raw talent has helped bridge the gap between the speed and intensity at the high school level into his first spring with the Pirates.

Mumford said, "It wasn't really that tough for me, but as far as getting the fundamentals down and my technique, it was a little challenging."

Joining Mumford on the defensive front is Anderson, whose journey to ECU was far more difficult and filled with uncertainty.

"Coming out of (William Penn) high school, I didn't have any looks," said Anderson, who spent a year Folk Union Military Academy after high school. "I went to (FAMU) and half-way through that, I still didn't have any looks, but ECU came to my rescue and it's a big weight off my shoulders to finally be here."

With the newfound opportunity, the 6-foot-4, 245 pound New Castle, Deleware, native was a sponge during the spring, trying to learn as much as possible.

"I ate lunch with some of the guys the other day, (my teammates) were helping me go over some plays and develop myself as a player in order to fit into this new situation," said Anderson.

"It's a new system I have to learn and it's different from what I'm used to. I'm picking up things quickly and want to help out the team in any way I can."

Anderson went on to say that one of his goals is to make the starting rotation on the defensive line, but if it didn't happen in 2013, he'd be happy to redshirt the season.

Benkert is likely to be redshirted this fall – with junior quarterbacks Shane Carden and Cody Keith returning – but the highly sought after signal caller from Cape Coral, FLA, is expected to be a key piece in ECU's future.

"(Offensive Coordinator) Lincoln Riley and Coach Ruff (McNeill) wanted me and they definitely pursued me the hardest," said Benkert. "When I came up (to ECU) on my visit, it felt like the place I most wanted to be and I never really had any questions about it."

Among those interested in Benkert was Florida State and South Florida. He impressed in ECU's Purple-Gold Spring game, completing 6 of his 13 passes for 75 yards, including a beautiful touch-pass to Antonio Cannon for a 32 yard touchdown.

Rounding out the group of early enrollees is the massive, 6-foot-8, 330 pound Smith. For his size, Smith can move around well, but much to his chagrin, the Pirates are returning most of their offensive line. Expect him to slim up before he gets his chance up front.

Inside ECU Sports Top Stories