Pirates football springs into action

Published 11:56 am Thursday, March 1, 2007

By By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
GREENVILLE — Only 184 more days before the East Carolina Pirates kick off the 2007 season.
The Pirates started to prepare for the Sept. 1 season opener at Virginia Tech with the first day of spring drills Wednesday at the Cliff Moore Practice Complex.
ECU will hold 15 drills, including two scrimmages and the annual Spring Game, between now and April 14. The Pirates will hold scrimmages March 23 and March 30 beginning at 4 p.m., while the Spring Game will be held April 14 at 3 p.m. at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
Eight players will miss spring drills, including offensive lineman Terence Campbell, who is out with a heart ailment.
Also missing drills will be tight ends Jay Sonnhalter (ankle) and Martin Tanski (ankle), linebackers Pierre Belle (shoulder) and Quentin Cotton (shoulder), defensive backs Stacy Walls and Ronald Wright (knee) and offensive lineman Willie Barton (personal reasons).
New faces
Several transfers and a handful of walk-ons are trying to make a mark with the ECU football team.
Holtz said two that stand out are tight end J.R. Kraemer (from Illinois) and defensive lineman Khalif Mitchell (from North Carolina).
Former Williamston High School football player Melvin Moore, listed as a wide receiver, is among the walk-ons who are participating in spring drills.
Taking the snaps
With record-holder James Pinkney gone, Holtz will have to find a new starting quarterback. As of now, Rob Kass seems to have the lead, but competition will be fierce.
Holtz threw Dwayne Harris into the quarterback hopefuls.
Coaching responsibilities
ECU’s latest addition to the coaching staff is Todd Fitch, who was named the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks’ coach.
Steve Shankweiler, who was the offensive coordinator last year, is listed as the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. However, Holtz said that Fitch will be the one calling the offensive plays.
Holtz said there won’t be a special teams’ coordinator, but instead he’ll delegate different responsibilities to different coaches.
The other coaches include Greg Hudson (defensive coordinator/middle linebackers), Donnie Kirkpatrick (wide receivers/recruiting coordinator), Phil Petty (tight ends), Thomas “Rock” Roggeman (linebackers), Wardell “Junior” Smith (running backs), Rick Smith (secondary) and Donnie Thompson (defensive line/assistant head coach).
Looking ahead
Holtz said this season’s schedule is a difficult one. The Pirates open the season at Virginia Tech, then follow that up with a home game Sept. 8 against North Carolina.
ECU will play its first Conference USA game Sept. 15 against Southern Miss, followed by a trip to West Virginia on Sept. 22. The Pirates conclude the season with a trip to C-USA foe Houston on Sept. 29.
ECU plays at UCF on Oct. 6 before making the long trek to UTEP on Oct. 13. The Pirates return home Oct. 20 to face N.C. State, then closes out the month Oct. 27 at home against UAB.
The Pirates will be on the road for the first two games of November, traveling to Memphis on Nov. 3 and Marshall on Nov. 10. After a bye week, the Pirates end the regular season Nov. 24 at home against Tulane.