EVER EVOLVING: Pirates add weapons on offense

Published 10:55 pm Thursday, February 11, 2016

GREENVILLE — Scottie Montgomery and the new East Carolina football coaching staff inherited an offensive behemoth upon arriving in Greenville. Last week, they began to add their own pieces to the Pirates’ attack when they signed a quarterback, receiver, two running backs and two tight ends as part of the 2016 signee class.

The goal is simple on a personal, player-to-player basis: prepare these young men for the next level. Obviously, the team’s end goal consists of championships. Giving ECU’s skill players the tools for success at the professional level is a means of getting there.

“Myself and coach Montgomery know, we have a clear idea what we want an NFL receiver looks like,” receivers coach Phil McGeoghan said. He had been the receivers coach for the Miami Dolphins before joining Montgomery’s staff.

“We’re going to develop those players exactly the way we see it to be successful at the next level. All the technique, fundamentals we’re going to teach and coach are going to be geared toward being the best receivers we can be.”

Tahj Deans, a 6-foot-2 signee from Southern Nash, is the lone pass catcher in this recruiting class. He will spend the next couple years of his life under McGeoghan’s tutelage, learning what it takes to play after college and, in the meantime, hopefully driving the success of the Pirate offense.

“I think he’s going to be a special player,” offensive coordinator Tony Petersen said.

McGeoghan added, “When he comes here, he’s going to see the work ethic from the older guys. He’s going to see what a receiver is. That’s what we’re trying to brand. … It’s a person who’s going to catch the ball. They’re not going to run out of bounds. We’re going to be able to change direction, block in the run game, we’re going to get downhill, get yards and touchdowns.”

Isaiah Jones will be one of those older players that will lead by example. McGeoghan knew with about two weeks left in the NFL season that he would be coming on board at ECU, so he had a chance to get ahead on watching tape.

After Jones’ shoulder surgery, he and McGeoghan sat down and watched about every one of his catches from this past campaign.

“I didn’t say much until the end,” McGeoghan said. “I told him I thought he did well and found some things to work on. I showed him some of the skills we were going to develop. … I’m just excited to get out there on the grass.”

That philosophy holds true for the rest of the skill positions. ECU signed running backs in Johnny Glaspie and, in one of signing day’s surprises, Hussein Howe. The two are of the smaller variety and will bring their talents to an already deep backfield.

The Pirates have Anthony Scott and Shawn Furlow coming back this season. Tennessee transfer Derrell Scott is also poised to make his debut in the Purple and Gold. Marquez Grayson evolved into a formidable red-zone back two seasons ago, too.

ECU’s identity has largely come from its heavy passing offense. With the new coaching staff and personnel, however, there’s a chance the Pirates run more of a pro-style offense. The depth at running back allows them to play a more even game on offense.

That doesn’t mean the offense will be any less exhilarating to watch.

“College football is all about big plays,” Petersen said. “If you’re not getting big plays, you’re not scoring a lot of points.”