The makeup of ECU’s secondary was arguably the biggest question heading into this season. That question was answered earlier this week with the release of the depth chart for the game against NCCU this weekend.
A name that jumps off the page immediately is senior Lamar Ivey who has landed the starting role at strong safety. An Eastern Alamance product, Ivey has seen playing time at multiple positions for the Pirates throughout his career.
It’s not by chance that he earned the spot. Whether it was special-teams, nickel corner or safety, Ivey has answered the call for coaches the past couple of seasons.
“Consistency is always the word you look for, and Lamar has always been that guy from playing cornerback, nickel corner or at safety.” said head coach Ruffin McNeill. “He’s very smart and understands what Coach (Rick) Smith wants on the back end. The biggest thing with Lamar is he understands the concept, and once you get that down, those guys tend to take off.”
McNeill also mentioned Lamar has matured in his time at ECU and has been a prime example of what it means to be a Pirate football player.
Ivey has spent a lot of time perfecting his craft over the years. At first it wasn’t easy for him to pick up the concepts of he secondary, but with the addition of ECU defensive coordinator Rick Smith, that has changed. Ivey now has the confidence he needs heading into this season as a senior starter.
“Coach Smith has definitely taught me a lot since he’s been here, ” said Ivey. “He has helped me work on seeing the ball, breaking to it and my footwork. As the years have passed I’ve become more comfortable on the defensive side of the ball. He pushes me and keeps me motivated. In high school I was a quarterback and never played defense, when I came here it was new to me. Now I’ve played safety before so switching back was something I’m used to, cornerback was knew to me so I had to learn. The transition went well.”
Ivey also mentioned the chatter about the secondary being the weakness of the defense this year has him and his teammates motivated.
Smith gave Ivey the starting spot based on multiple reasons. For starters, he is three years older than Terrell Richardson and has “been to war” before in the secondary. Richardson has never played a snap in the secondary, only on special teams. Coverage ability played a role as well.
“If you look at the man-to-man side of things Lamar is a much better at that type of coverage,” said Smith. “Richardson is 210 pounds though, if it becomes a running game we want him in there because he will knock your head off. I feel good about both of them. To make a comparison from last year, Terrell Richardson is your Chip Thompson and Lamar Ivey is your Michael Dobson.”
Smith also mentioned Ivey’s personality has changed since being named starter. He talks more, smiles more and feels like more of a part of the team. With the season officially starting this Saturday, Smith isn’t worried about the secondary. His expectation is that they will play great and he said the players hold the same expectation.