Halfway through his high school career, Mark Birmingham has garnered plenty of attention. The four-star prospect is touted as one of the most talented tight ends in the nation.
East Carolina recently became the eighth school to offer Birmingham. As a talented player on both sides of the ball, the Pirates targeted the 2016 Ashburn (Va.) Briar Woods athlete for his services at the defensive end position.
"Last year, ECU defensive line coach (Marc Yellock) came to one of our practices," said the 6-foot-3, 231-pound Birmingham. "He talked to me a little bit. He said he liked the way that I played and that he would be back soon to see me again. About three weeks ago, he ran by the school and he told me that they were going to offer me at defensive end."
Birmingham has also collected offers from James Madison, UNC Charlotte, North Carolina, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Old Dominion and Wisconsin. However, ECU is the only team that has offered him on defense thus far.
It's no wonder why he's attracted so much attention as a tight end. He demonstrated plenty of offensive skill in terms of both athleticism and football intellect. In 13 games this past season, he had nine receptions for 166 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
"I'm more of a dominant, receiving tight end now, rather than blocking," said Birmingham. "I can get down the seams and make good cuts to the outside. If I have the ball outside, it is difficult to catch me down the sideline and it takes more than one guy to take me down."
That skill translates to the defensive side of the game, too. In 13 games as a tight end this past year, he made nine solo tackles and assisted on another 30. He also sacked the quarterback three times for a total loss of 37 yards.
With his years as an upperclassman ahead of him, Birmingham's sights are not only on his recruitment, but also on his development as a player.
"I definitely need to improve my blocking," said Birmingham of his personal goals. "That's definitely a big thing that would help me market myself to other schools and more elite schools. Tight ends have to be able to catch, but it's more important to block."
Birmingham has no ranking for the schools that have offered him because he can see himself at any of the eight. As far as ECU is concerned, he's still working out which schools to visit out of those that have offered.
"As of late, now I have eight offers," said Birmingham. "All are from schools that I do like a lot and I feel very blessed to be in the spot that I am in now."
Birmingham is already on the radar for plenty of programs. With a busy summer and his junior season ahead of him, expect the recruiting trail to heat up significantly for this Pirate prospect.