In the season opener against Old Dominion, it was true freshmen receivers Davon Grayson and Isaiah Jones that made their presence felt. Grayson totaled 28 receiving yards against the Monarchs and three of his four receptions were for touchdowns.
With 39 receiving yards, Grayson made an impact in Chapel Hill, too. However, it was fellow freshman Jimmy Williams playing in his first ever collegiate game who would step up in a big way.
Williams only got two touches on Saturday, but he made the most of them. His first was a 17-yard pass from Shane Carden that would be shortly followed by a touchdown pass to Lance Ray that would send the Pirates into the second quarter with a 14-0 lead.
"I feel like that was a real good experience for him," said senior receiver Lance Ray. "Especially when you experience it young, it's a big confidence builder. Then you build off that. And, it happened early. There's a lot of pros that can come from that. That'll definitely give him a motive to do even more."
Ray had a big game, too. He caught five passes for 84 yards and two touchdowns, not to mention averaging 23 yards per kickoff return on special teams.
"For once it kind of worked out for me," said Ray. "All in all, the focus hasn't changed. From day one, since I've been here, it's been all about and contributing as far as where I can. It sort of just worked out for me and I'm thankful and grateful for that."
All the freshmen and newcomers have something to work towards. Even before Saturday's statement win in Chapel Hill, ECU's new blood has been working hard to continue to deliver come game day.
"Every day we get on this field, classroom, study hall, film: we work hard every day," said redshirt freshman receiver Quataye Smyre. "What we did last week is in the past now and we look forward to Middle Tennessee."
Running back Breon Allen is another new face on the gridiron for the Pirates. With the depth at running back provided by Vintavious Cooper and Chris Hairston, the junior Snow College transfer doesn't get a ton of carries, but he takes advantage of each one.
Against the Tar Heels, Allen only got one touch. It was during ECU's second drive of the game and he ran five yards for the second first down of the drive. Unfortunately, the Pirates were unable to make it past midfield and were forced to punt.
"This team's full of weapons," said Allen. "There's weapons everywhere. You got the young guns putting in. Then you've got the older guys guiding the young guys with talent. Everybody's meshing…When I do get my chance, I try to do as much as I can without hurting the team."
ECU's coaching staff is proud of the consistent contributions made by the team's newer faces. Not only does it help on the field, but it also speaks highly of ECU's recruiting.
"It's a special compliment to our coaches' recruiting and a compliment to coach [Jeff] Connors and his development program," said head coach Ruffin McNeill. "Our kids are ready to go and they have a lot of confidence in themselves."