Pirates tackle needs with recruiting class

Published 7:20 pm Wednesday, February 1, 2012

East Carolina head coach Ruffin McNeill gestures during his press conference on National Signing Day Wednesday at East Carolina University. (WDN Photo/Brian Haines)

GREENVILLE — Addressing needs was the key phrase at East Carolina where third-year coach Ruffin McNeill and his staff put a premium on restocking the secondary and adding depth to the linebacker and offensive line positions on National Signing Day.
The Pirates finished 5-7 (3-3 Conference USA) last season and on Wednesday inked six linebackers, five defensive backs four offensive linemen and three wide receivers as part of an 18-player recruiting class that spanned over nine states and was ranked the fifth-best in Conference USA by Rivas.com and the 11th-best by Scouts.com
“We knew we had to develop depth at the offensive line. That was a concentration of ours going into the recruiting season,” McNeill said. “In the secondary we lost three starters with Derek (Blacknall) Emanuel (Davis) and Bradley (Jacobs) (exhausting their eligibility).
“Also on defense, going to a 3-4, it’s a linebacker defense and a linebacker-type scheme and we felt like we had to continue to restock and replenish that spot.”
According to Rivals.com, the biggest catch of the day for the Pirates was safety Lucas Thompson, a 6-1, 190-pound freshman from Winter Garden, Fl. who was named an Under Armour All-American. Rivals.com listed Thompson as a three-star recruit and the 17th best safety in the nation.
Playing in pass-happy Conference USA, having quality DBs is a must for the Pirates.
“The secondary has to be a strong unit and we felt like we had to address that,” McNeill said. “Lucas coming aboard was a great addition.”
The Pirates also aided the defense by bringing in a crop of linebackers with good size as five of the six LBs are 6-3 or bigger and over 200 pounds.
The tallest of the group is 6-4, 190-pound freshman Dayon Pratt from Calvin Coolidge High School in Washington, D.C., while JUCO transfer Gabriel Woullard (Pierce College, Ca.) is the most stout standing at 6-3, 230 pounds.
East Carolina also got some good looking offensive line prospects with 6-6, 303-pound Roanoke, Va. product Ryan Revia and 6-4, 288-pound Mauldin, S.C. native Jonathan McLaughlin leading the way.
East Carolina moved away from recruiting undersized receivers and worked feverishly to try and replace departed 6-3 star wideout Lance Lewis who was named to the all-C-USA second team last season.
Both Lance Ray, a JUCO transfer from Northwest Miss J.C., and Jabril Soloman, a freshman from Mauldin High School in South Carolina, are listed at 6-2.
Of the 18 players that signed on Wednesday six were JUCO transfers, which deviates slightly from McNeill’s repeated stance of not wanting to “microwave the process” at ECU. However, after going 11-14 in his first two seasons the ECU alum said that bringing the JUCO players was the best and fastest way to fill gaps.
“(It was about) meeting specific needs that we had right now. We want to win right now too,” McNeill said
Though McNeill was extremely pleased with his class, he did not sign any running backs and did not add a quarterback for the first time in his tenure at ECU. However, the Pirates still have two scholarships left to be awarded and McNeill felt that they would be handed out in the near future.

2012 East Carolina signees
Deshuan Amos, DB, 6-1, 170, Midlothian, Va. (Manchester), Fr.
Adonis Armstrong, DB, 5-10, 180, Clinton, Miss. (Hinds CC), Jr.
J.T. Boyd, OL, 6-4, 275, Fort Mill, S.C. (Nation Ford), Fr.
Colby Brown, DB, 5-10, 180, Augusta, Ga. (Highland CC), Jr.
Quandarious Crump, LB, 6-3, 210, Lexington, N.C. (Lexington), Fr.
Drayvon Fairley, LB, 6-3, 200, Red Springs, N.C. (Red Springs), Fr.
Jonathan McLaughlin, OL, 6-4, 288, Mauldin, S.C. (Mauldin), Fr.
Keifer Neal, OL, 6-5, 310, Anaheim, Calif. (Golden West College), Jr.
Dayon Pratt, LB, 6-4, 190, Washington, D.C. (Calvin Coolidge), Fr.
Lance Ray, WR, 6-2, 210, Quincy, Fla. (Northwest Miss JC), Jr.
Ryan Revia, OL, 6-6, 303, Roanoke, Va. (Patrick Henry), Fr.
DeAndre Scarbrough, LB, 6-3, 200, Beulaville, N.C. (East Duplin), Fr.
Quataye Smyre, WR, 5-10, 165, Beulaville, N.C. (East Duplin), Fr.
Jabril Soloman, WR, 6-3, 180, Hemingway, S.C. (Hemingway), Fr.
Reece Speight, LB, 6-1, 200, Wilson, N.C. (Beddingfield), Fr.
Godfrey Thompson, DB, 6-0, 205, Jackson, Miss. (Hinds CC), Jr.
Lucas Thompson, DB, 6-1, 190, Winter Garden, Fla. (West Orange), Fr.
Gabriel Woullard, LB, 6-3, 230, Valencia, Calif. (Pierce College), Jr.