Summer Journal: Position Battles

GREENVILLE, N.C. — With one week until the start of ECU's fall camp, Inside ECU Sports highlights three of the most intriguing position battles to watch for.

East Carolina will open its fall football camp one week from today. Thus, it will put into motion several intriguing storylines and mark the beginning of a few notable position battles.

Here is a list of some of the position battles that you should be keeping your eye on during the Pirates’ preseason camp:

Safety:

ECU lost two of its most impactful defensive players from last year — safeties Damon Magazu and Chip Thompson — and does not have anybody on the roster that has significant playing experience to replace them.

Senior Lamar Ivey is one of the team’s top performers in the weight room and appeared to be a likely selection to start at either of the safety spots. However, his showing in the spring far from separated him from the pack, while junior Domonique Lennon was impressive.

Lennon was listed initially as the Pirates’ starting strong safety at the start of spring workouts, but is certainly more than capable of switching to free safety just as long as there is another young player who can step in.

Sophomore Terrell Richardson could be that guy. In fact, defensive coordinator Rick Smith named the stocky six-foot, 210-pound defensive back as the frontrunner to start at strong safety by the end of the spring practice; moving Lennon over to free safety.

Although Cody Purdie is a true freshman, he got valuable experience in the spring as an early enrollee and could add his name to the mix with a standout fall camp. Other possible competitors include Nate Mays and Travon Simmons.

Offensive line:

ECU’s 2014 recruiting class was offensive-line heavy after the Pirates graduated three starters from last season’s front line. Among the new recruits are, arguably, the two most important newcomers to this year’s team: JUCO transfers Dontae Levingston and Quincy McKinney.

It would almost be too easy to predict both Levingston and McKinney to immediately fill ECU’s vacancies at both guard positions, but neither of them were on campus in the spring nor have built any kind of chemistry with the current linemen.

With junior C.J. Struyk likely remaining the starter at center, offensive line coach Brandon Jones has opened up the possibility of utilizing Struyk's two backups — J.T. Boyd and Taylor Hudson — at guard. Hudson actually started at center before getting beat out by Struyk in 2013.

After Adhem Elsawi went down with a detached retina last season, junior Tre Robertson stepped in nicely at right tackle with little drop-off. Jones even called Robertson his best offensive lineman during the spring, which may have cemented his starting status.

Listed at a gigantic 6-foot-4, 337-pounds, red-shirt freshman Larry Williams may also compete for a starting position.

Placekicker:

Last season started with a lot of promise for starting kicker Warren Harvey. He was named to the Lou Groza Award Watch List, which is annually award to college football’s top placekicker, but once he lost his confidence — after missing two crucial kicks in a triple-overtime loss at Tulane — he was never able to regain it.

Week after week, special teams coach Kirk Doll said Harvey and Texas A&M transfer Davis Plowman were as close as they could get while competing at practice. Meanwhile, the offense tended to go for more fourth down conversions than usual and there was even a time Plowman was brought in to attempt a short field goal.

However, in the end, Harvey never lost his starting job. But the pressure is certainly on him to keep it heading into his senior season. Plowman is back in the fold, as is sophomore walk-on Connor Torruella, who was unable to compete last season after suffering a season-ending injury.


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