ECU’s young wide receivers coming of age

Published 1:13 pm Sunday, November 30, 2008

By By STEVE FRANKLIN, Sports Writer
The future for East Carolina’s wide receivers looks bright.
After losing wide receiver Jamar Bryant (48 catches in 2007) to a season-long suspension five weeks into the season, and then losing this year’s top receiver, Dwayne Harris (58 receptions for 654 yards) to a season-ending ankle injury three weeks ago, the Pirates were left short-handed on the outside.
They also lost senior wide receiver T.J. Lee to a season-ending leg injury in their 19-16 overtime win over Marshall.
But with their stars out, the Pirates’ young and inexperienced wide receivers have begun to shine.
On Friday, the trio of junior Alex Taylor, redshirt freshman Darryl Freeney and true freshman Joe Womack had a breakout game.
The three combined for 12 catches for 200 yards and a touchdown as East Carolina roared past UTEP, 53-21 in its regular season finale.
Freeney was the biggest star of the three against the Miners. The 5’11”, 196-pounder from Suffolk, Va. hauled in a career-high five receptions for a career-best 106 yards, and caught his first career touchdown pass — a 32-yard strike from quarterback Patrick Pinkney in the first quarter.
When Harris and Lee went down a few weeks ago, there were a lot of questions. Who would step in and fill their shoes? Who would be the Pirates’ go-to-guy? Would the pass game just disappear?
The trio took the questions as a personal challenge.
And while East Carolina has had to shift its offense to more of a run-oriented game, the young wideouts have helped open up the offense in recent weeks.
Taylor, Freeney and Womack have combined to make 52 catches for 708 yards in limited action this year.
If Bryant and Harris can return to form next season, the question won’t be, who is ECU going to throw the ball too? Instead, it will be, how is ECU going to be able to get that many wide receivers on the field?