ECU Head Coach Ruffin McNeill said it yesterday, the 2015 class was about quality not quantity. It’s a good thing too because the class lacks quantity when compared to the 2014 class which boasted 23 new recruits for the Pirates.
Nevertheless ECU inked some impressive talent for the future of Pirate football and looking at the prospects, the future seems to be in good hands.
The coaching staff was selective in its recruiting process and attempted to address the needs of the program moving forward. The needs included filling voids at the wide receiver and defensive back positions as well as building more depth on the line of scrimmage.
“This class builds onto this last class and the last few classes as well as any other,” said coach McNeill in his Signing Day press conference. “I’m really proud of this group. This group met every characteristic that we wanted.”
The class is composed of 12 new signees and five early enrollees. Of the 17 student-athletes, nine are expected to play on offense and the other eight on defense.
Offensively, ECU signed three linemen, three wide receivers, two running backs and one quarterback.
|Dalton Montgomery signing his LOI,|
The offensive line group is highlighted by junior college offensive tackle Justin Sandifier, a 6-foot-4, 315-pound force who is expected to compete for playing time early and potentially contribute immediately. Next to him are two impressive young linemen in Lake Dallas’ Dalton Montgomery and Mundy’s Mill tackle Darius Anderson.
The wide receiver group the Pirates signed is an impressive one. Lake Nona’s Deondre Farrier earned Parade All-America honorable mention after his impressive senior season hauling in 22 touchdowns and notching 1,850 yards. Woodland’s Justin Strozier, an all-county and all-region performer, adds another element of speed to the group.
Perhaps the most intriguing receiver to watch out for will be former Hinds C.C. quarterback James Summers who coach McNeill says reminds him of his prized star wideout Justin Hardy who just graduated. At 6-foot-3, 210 pounds with a history of winning, Summers will be a name to remember going into next fall.
The Pirates signed two running backs for the class in local product Shawn Furlow and Tennessee transfer Derrell Scott. Furlow had a 1,610-yard junior campaign with 23 touchdowns launching his recruitment. He may have to wait to contribute with ECU’s loaded backfield and considering his size at 5-foot-10, 187 pounds, but when he gets his chance Furlow could shine.
Scott will be forced to sit out next fall, per the NCAA transfer rule, but after that he will have three years of eligibility in the purple and gold. He joined the program at the start of January and is already training with the team. When his number is called after next season, there is no reason why Scott shouldn’t be able to contribute immensely for the offense.
The lone quarterback signee for the class, John Jacobs, is a dual-threat on the field. He finished his senior campaign with 2,356 yards through the air and 22 passing touchdowns to go along with 853 yards rushing and ten touchdowns. Jacobs stayed committed to ECU for a long time even through the loss of offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley. Coach McNeill loves his attitude and his loyalty to the program.
Defensively, the Pirates signed three defensive backs, three linebackers and two linemen in the class.
The defensive back position is one the Pirates have focused on in recent classes. Although they didn’t land their top target at the position, JUCO prospect Treston Decoud, the players that did sign shouldn’t be overlooked.
For starters, the Pirates resigned a cornerback from last year’s class in Corey Seargent who joined the program at the start of January. Seargent is 6-foot, 180-pounds and plays a physical game. He was selected as the Charlotte Observer’s Defensive Player-of-the-year for his region.
The only true 2015 recruit to early enroll with the Pirates is defensive back Nhyre Quinerly who also joined the team in early January. Quinerly was selected All-State at both defensive back and wide receiver in both his junior and senior campaigns. Last season Quinerly was also selected the state of Virginia’s Defensive Player-of-the-year.
The last of the defensive backs is North Myrtle Beach two-way player Colby Gore. With 1,499 all-purpose yards as a receiver, 79 tackles and four interceptions as a safety, it’s easy to see why the Pirates were interested in Gore. His size may cause him to redshirt since he is 5-foot-11, 170-pounds, but if he does play, Gore can also contribute on special teams as a kick return or punt return specialist.
The linebackers ECU signed for the class is a top notch group containing one player that will likely impact games starting next fall.
Hutchinson inside linebacker Darius Wright was a last minute JUCO addition to the class that coach McNeill expects to contribute immediately. He has a great nose for the ball and his pursuit to it is relentless. What he lacks in height at 6-foot, 220-pounds, Wright makes up for with speed. Look for him to be the new linebacker with the biggest impact next season.
With all that being said, there is no reason to take anything away from the Pirates’ other two linebacker signees Tony Baird and C.J. Maybin.
Baird originally signed with last year’s class before being deemed ineligible and rejoining the team to start January. He had 132 tackles, 12 sacks and two forced fumbles in his senior campaign and could build on his impressive 6-foot-3, 210-pound frame before spring workouts.
Maybin, who played a lot of defensive back in high school, will line up at linebacker for the Pirates and it may be due to his size. He is 6-foot-4, 195-pounds and was listed among the National Underclassmen’s Top 75 players in the state of Florida.
Last but not least are the two defensive linemen ECU signed. Ayden-Grifton defensive tackle Justin Brown was ranked the No. 5 defensive lineman in the state of North Carolina last season by Scout and is a big pickup for the unit that lost key contributors. At 6-foot-3, 310 pounds Brown has an impressive frame to build on for strength and conditioning coach Jeff Connors.
Wrapping up the class is Kempsville defensive lineman Kyron Speller, another resign by the Pirates. Speller joined the team at the beginning of January after withdrawing from school last summer. It appears he is with the team for good now and will play on the defensive side of the ball despite seeing time at fullback in high school. Speller is a 6-foot-1, 235-pounds defensive end that also experimented at the inside linebacker position.
The class isn’t riddled with top recruits, in fact the only four-star recruit in the class is running back transfer Derrell Scott. Whether you buy into the star system or not, the class is filled with impressive student-athletes that appear to be committed to not only becoming better football players, but becoming better young men.
ECU’s 2015 class is a quality group.
My grade: A-