ECU announces 2017 signees

Published 12:58 pm Wednesday, February 1, 2017

GREENVILLE — Addressing personnel shortages at the offensive line and defensive line positions, as well as enhancing athleticism of his skill performers, were all priorities for second-year East Carolina Head Football Coach Scottie Montgomery as the Pirates announced a balanced 22-member 2017 signing class Wednesday.

Included in ECU’s total number were five mid-year junior college transfers who were announced in December and six freshmen who are currently enrolled in classes at East Carolina and will participate in spring drills next month. True rookies DL Taijh Alston, WR Jayden Borders, WR Leroy Henley, QB Kingsley Ifedi, OL Matt Morgan and LB Ben Norris all joined junior college signees LB Cannon Gibbs, DB Marcus Holton Jr., OL Dqmarcus Shaw and TE Eric Weber in the Pirates’ program early.

Of the 22, 11 are projected to play on the offensive side of the ball, while the remaining 11 will line up on defense. Offensively, the Pirates signed four wide receivers, three linemen, two running backs, a tight end and a quarterback. On defense, ECU is looking forward to bulking up its front seven by adding five linemen and three linebackers, along with three secondary performers. Among the six overall junior college transfers, three are expected to impact the trenches on both lines of scrimmage.

Montgomery’s strong relationships with in-state high school coaches enabled the Pirates to maintain a notable regional flavor with their latest list of roster additions. Nearly half (10) of the 22 overall newcomers hail from prep programs in North Carolina, while Florida (four), South Carolina (three), Mississippi (two), Georgia (1), Ohio (1) and Texas (1) were also represented.

“I’m thrilled about having the opportunity to work with these young men,” Montgomery said. “I think they have a chance to be a special group on and off the field with the character that exemplifies our recruiting philosophy and enhances the academics, community outreach, speed, toughness and overall athleticism of our program.

“I believe we answered our immediate needs on the line of scrimmage and delivered plenty of quality talent in our skill areas,” Montgomery added. “I like our numbers by having 10 currently with us for off-season development and spring ball, and being able to sign a balanced blend on both sides of the ball.”

East Carolina posted a 3-9 overall mark and stood tied for fourth in the American Athletic Conference’s East Division during Montgomery’s initial campaign as head coach.

The Pirates are expected to return six starters on offense and seven on defense when spring drills open March 20. ECU will host Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) national champion James Madison on Sept. 2 to kick off the 2017 season.




Taijh Alston, DL, 6-4, 215, Fr., Vass, N.C. (Union Pines HS)

Officially enrolled early at ECU in January of 2017 and will participate with the Pirates in spring drills, thus signed a grant-in-aid with the program instead of a letter-of-intent (per NCAA policy). High School: A three-year varsity starter as a defensive end for coach Ryan Riggan at Union Pines … Completed prep career with 13.5 sacks and averaged 6.5 tackles per game … Played outside linebacker position on junior varsity squad as a freshman before becoming full-time starter at end during sophomore, junior and senior campaigns … Tallied 54 tackles, including 7.5 for lost yardage, and 1.5 sacks in 2014 in starting debut on Vikings’ varsity roster … Earned First-Team All-Cape Fear Valley 3-A Conference honors and was named to The Fayetteville Observer’s All-Cape Fear Region squad (second team) as a junior after collecting 77 stops, 13.0 tackles for loss and 5.0 sacks despite missing several games because of an injury … Credited with 96 hits, 16.0 TFL and 7.0 sacks in 2016 during senior year as team captain … Offensively, contributed as a tight end … Resided in Lumberton during childhood before transferring to Union Pines district prior to ninth grade … Listed among top 25 college football recruits in state of North Carolina according to Charlotte Observer … A three-star recruit per and … Ranked as the No. 3 defensive end in state, 46th in region and was included among nation’s top 120 performers by … Recruited by Appalachian State, Charlotte, Coastal Carolina, Miami (Ohio), N.C. State and West Virginia … Also earned varsity letter in basketball. Personal: Full name is Taijh Tyrik Alston … Born March 27, 1999 at Pinehurst, N.C. … Son of Chrystal Dowd and Donald Fairley … Enjoys working out and strength building with weights.


Bruce Bivens, LB, 6-0, 220, Fr., Houston, Texas (Davis HS)

High School: An Associated Press First-Team Class 6A All-State selection as a senior linebacker and team captain at Davis … Credited with 87 stops, 20.5 tackles for loss, 14.5 sacks, six forced fumbles and two interceptions in 2016 … Additionally, recorded two defensive touchdowns for Falcons … Listed No. 51 among Houston Chronicle’s Top 100 college prospects in the state of Texas … Earned starting position on school’s inaugural varsity squad as a sophomore in 2014 after competing at the junior varsity level during freshman campaign just one year after DHS opened its doors for first time … Helped program post 7-5 record, capture district title and advance to Class 6A playoffs in first season of competition … A two-time first-team all-district choice … Posted 93 tackles, 7.0 sacks and forced five fumbles to earn first-team all-area honors and team’s outstanding linebacker award as a junior … A three-star prospect who ranks among recruiting service’s top 80 inside linebackers nationally … Reportedly clocked at 4.42 in the 40-yard dash, completed the 5-10-5 shuttle in 4.25, can bench press 315 pounds, squat 505 pounds and reach a 41” vertical … Was also recruited by Fresno State … Excelled in classroom with selection to all-district academic squad in 2016 … Earned additional letters as a standout basketball performer. Personal: Full name is Bruce Bivens … Born January 29, 1998 at Houston, Texas.


Jayden Borders, WR, 5-11, 170, Fr., Shelby, N.C. (Shelby HS)

Officially enrolled early at ECU in January of 2017 and will participate with the Pirates in spring drills, thus signed a grant-in-aid with the program instead of a letter-of-intent (per NCAA policy). High School: Key member of four consecutive state championship squads at Shelby under coach Lance Ware … A two-time Associated Press First-Team All-State performer (2015, team-high 21 votes in 2016) who finished prep career with 262 receptions for 4,653 yards and 58 touchdowns … Golden Lions captured Class 2A titles in 2013, 2014, 2015 and a Class 2AA championship in 2016 with a combined 57-7 record … Earned Small School All-America and First-Team All-State honors as a senior after catching 81 passes for 1,726 yards and 22 TD to help SHS to a perfect 16-0 mark … Had five receptions for 86 yards and a score in the Golden Lions’ 28-6 win over Jacksonville Northside in the Class 2AA Championship Game at Carter-Finley Stadium … Earned invitation to play in prestigious Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas … Shattered the school single-season receiving record as a junior with 93 catches for 1,732 yards and 26 touchdowns to earn All-Cleveland County accolades from the Shelby Star and guided squad to a 15-1 record that was capped by a six-catch, 135-yard, two-touchdown effort (which included an 80-yarder in the first quarter) during a 57-21 triumph over Kinston in the 2015 Class 2A title clash … Had 83 receptions for 1,173 yards and 10 scores during a sophomore campaign in which Golden Lions produced a 14-2 ledger and a 31-7 victory over Clinton to capture the 2014 Class 2A trophy … Opened prep career with five grabs for 22 yards as a freshman in 2013, playing a role in Shelby’s 12-4 record and state title winning 29-7 decision over Southwest Onslow … Rated as a three-star recruit and held No. 35 (state) and No. 84 (overall) ranks by, while earning a similar three stars and a No. 37 state standing by … Also recruited by Appalachian State, Charlotte, Marshall, Miami (Fla.), Miami (Ohio), Georgia Southern and Georgia State. Personal: Full name is Jayden Borders … Born July 1, 1999 at Shelby, N.C. … Son of Jennifer Lynn and Chesley Borders … Father was a teammate of ECU Head Coach Scottie Montgomery at Shelby Crest High School who would go on to earn all-state honors as a senior in 1997 after making 45 catches for 1,163 yards and 16 touchdowns … He broke the Cleveland County record for career receiving yards (2,352) and owned the top two single-season marks for receiving yards (1,195/1996 and 1,163/1997) before earning playing collegiately at North Carolina (62 catches for 1,001 yards and nine TDs over four seasons).


Trace Christian, RB, 6-0, 220, Fr., Longwood, Fla. (Lake Brantley HS)

High School: Produced three-straight 1,000-yard rushing campaigns for Lake Brantley … A two-time team offensive MVP selection and four-year letterman … Established single-season career bests in carries (145) and yards (1,316), while scoring 16 touchdowns as a senior to help lead Patriots to a 7-5 record and appearance in the Florida High School Football Class 8A Playoffs under coach David Delfiacco … Eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark in eight of 12 contests and averaged 9.1 yards per carry in 2016 … Picked up 1,286 yards on 139 attempts (9.3 ypr) and a personal-high 20 TDs during junior year … Notable highlight in 2015 was a 15-carrry, 230-yard performance against Lake Mary … Credited with 1,016 ground yards, nine scores on 137 attempts as a sophomore in first full-time starting role …Named LBHS’s Offensive Back MVP in 2014 … Made varsity starting debut as a freshman in 2013 and rushed for 194 yards and a pair of TDs on 24 carries to help Patriots outlast Lake Howell 29-26 in double overtime (while filling in for an injured teammate) … Chosen as program’s rookie-of-the-year … Started football career as a wide receiver during recreational league and middle school action before growth spurt enabled move to running back position … Earned No. 4 rank in the Orlando Sentinel’s 2017 Central Florida Super 60 … Reportedly been timed at 4.6 in the 40-yard dash … Rated as a three-start recruit by both and … Also listed as the 34th-best running back nationally according to … An accomplished track and field performer who captured the 2015 state title in the shot put (52 feet, 9.25 inches) after finishing as Florida’s runner-up during spring of sophomore year … In addition to East Carolina, recruited by Boston College, Cincinnati, Duke, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa State, Kentucky, Louisville, Miami, Mississippi State, Missouri, NC State, Rutgers, Syracuse, South Florida, UCF, USF, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest. Personal: Full name is Randolph H. Christian III, but prefers to go by Trace … Born January 5, 1999 at Altamonte Springs, Fla. … Son of Randolph and DeeDee Christian … Cousin Crystal Christian, who graduated from Starr’s Mill High School in Fayetteville, Ga., was an accomplished track and field letterwinner at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point who finished her career in 2014 ranked No. 3 nationally in the long jump.


Delvontae Harris, DB, 6-0, 185, Fr., Newnan, Ga. (Newnan HS)

High School: A three-year letterman and team captain for coach Mike McDonald at Newnan …A two-time all-region selection as a defender, earning second-team honors as a junior before being named to the honorable mention squad in 2016 … Registered 60 tackles and was responsible for six turnovers as a hybrid outside linebacker and safety during senior campaign … Also picked up area player-of-the-week honors in 2016 … Played the running back position on offensive side of the ball for Cougars … Promoted to full-time varsity status as a sophomore in 2014 and earned consistent starting assignment … Made commitment to ECU program in September, 2016 after Pirates’ season-opening victory over Western Carolina … Rated as a three-star prospect and No. 82 overall by … Had interest from Missouri, Georgia Southern, Western Carolina and Charleston Southern in addition to East Carolina. Personal: Full name is Delvontae Harris, but prefers to be called Tez … Born March 13, 1999 at Newnan, Ga. … Son of Chrissy Gaston … Enjoys working out and spending time with family.


Brandon Henderson, DL, 6-5, 275, Jr., Greenwood, S.C. (Georgia Military College/Greenwood HS)

Junior College: A mainstay on the defensive line for coach Bert Williams and a Georgia Military College program that posted a 9-2 record and reached as high as No. 10 in the NJCAA poll during the 2016 season … Helped Bulldogs run off nine-game win streak after dropping season opener … Logged 32 stops (15 solo), 12.0 tackles for lost yardage (-54) and 2.0 sacks for a defensive unit that allowed a paltry 15.2 points per game and 62.0 rushing yards a contest … Authored eight multi-tackle outings, including a season-high six hits against Lackawanna College in a season finale played at Marshall’s Joan Edwards Stadium … Credited with five stops on two occasions (Navarro and ASA) … Responsible for a loss of 20 yards on three TFLs and a sack vs. Palmetto Prep … Booked a pair of TFLs each in contests against Navarro, ASA and Jireh Prep … Had fumble recovery vs. Middle Georgia State … Played in nine games as a freshman in 2015 and contributed 13 tackles (nine solo), 7.0 TFLs (-47 yards) and 2.0 sacks … Performances of note were a four-tackle, 3-TFL (-31 yards) outing vs. Jireh Prep and a three-stop, 2.0-TFL contest against ASA … In addition to East Carolina, was recruited by Georgia, Texas, Bowling Green, Charlotte, Georgia Southern, Houston, Kansas, Louisiana-Lafayette, Marshall, Western Kentucky, Kentucky, West Virginia after two-year career with Bulldogs … Initially joined GMC program as a walk-on in the fall of 2015 … Attempted to start junior college career at Northeast Mississippi Community College prior to the 2014 season, but did not earn roster position during the fall or again in the spring (2015) after open tryout. High School: Recorded 15 tackles (nine solo), 2.0 TFLs, one sack and batted pass in limited action as a senior at Greenwood … Helped lead Eagles to state championship (31-24 overtime victory over Northwestern) as a junior in 2012 after runner-up finishes in 2010 and 2011 … Played for coach Gene Cathcart … Strong performer in classroom who received multiple academic and merit scholarship offers … Only football offer received after prep career was from a Division II institution. Personal: Full name is Brandon Dean Henderson … Born March 28, 1996 at Greenwood, S.C. … Enjoys video games and working out … Says signing with a FBS program despite being cut twice during junior college career is accomplishment most proud of.


Leroy Henley, WR, 6-1, 180, Fr., Pompano Beach, Fla. (Deerfield Beach HS)

Officially enrolled early at ECU in January of 2017 and will participate with the Pirates in spring drills, thus signed a grant-in-aid with the program instead of a letter-of-intent (per NCAA policy). High School: Starred for two separate prep programs in Broward (Fla.) County, earning a combined four varsity letters … Played first three seasons at Cardinal Gibbons in Fort Lauderdale before transferring to Deerfield Beach to enable early graduation (and early college enrollment) … Provided an immediate impact for DBHS and coach Jevon Glenn with 64 receptions for 968 yards and seven touchdowns … Helped lead Bucks to a 10-3 record (5-0 in district play) and appearance in the state 8-A semifinals during 2016 campaign as a team captain … Earned first-team all-county honors … Developed into one of Cardinal Gibbons’ top pass catchers in school history as a freshman, sophomore and junior collectively … Despite only playing three seasons, left Chiefs’ program as the school’s third-leading career receiver with 99 grabs for 1,259 yards … Stood fourth on same all-time list with 22 touchdown receptions … Enjoyed stellar sophomore year with 52 catches in 2014, a number which stands second in the team’s single-season annals, to earn selection to the all-county (first-team) unit … Earned four prospect stars from and three each from and … Rated as the nation’s No. 46 and No. 48 receiver according to and … Reportedly received offers from Auburn, California, Kentucky, Florida, Michigan, Michigan State, Louisville, Miami, Penn State, Virginia Tech, West Virginia in addition to East Carolina … Also picked up two letters as a basketball standout … Excelled in classroom with a 3.60 grade point average. Personal: Full name is Leroy K. Henley, Jr. … Born May 24, 1998 at Pompano Beach, Fla. … Son of Angela Williams … Cousin Terrance Henley is a defensive back in the Miami (Fla.) football program … Hobbies include fishing.


Kingsley Ifedi, QB, 6-3, 205, Fr., Charlotte, N.C. (Vance HS)

Officially enrolled early at ECU in January of 2017 and will participate with the Pirates in spring drills, thus signed a grant-in-aid with the program instead of a letter-of-intent (per NCAA policy). High School: Amassed 5,144 total yards and 64 touchdowns as a senior for coach Aaron Brand at Vance, which ranked as the fourth-highest single-season yardage total in North Carolina prep history … As team captain, played key role for Cougars’ squad that rolled to a 13-2 record (5-1 conference) and reached the Class 4AA West Regional Championship Game before falling to Page 49-14 on Dec. 9 … In addition to rushing for 1,092 yards, also totaled 4,052 passing yards to become only the 14th player in NCHSAA history to reach the (latter) milestone … Passed for 47 scores and added 17 on the ground during the 2016 campaign to earn Charlotte Observer Player-of-the-Year honors … Helped Cougars reach regional final by scoring the winning touchdown and converting a two-point conversion in overtime to lift VHS past Butler 50-49 after an 11-of-19, 165-yard passing effort and a 160-yard (24 carries) rushing performance … Other senior notables include a 23-of-27, 367-yard passing outing and school-record seven TDs against James Island Charter School on Sept. 10 … Guided Cougars to a 38-21 road win over three-time defending state champion Mallard Creek on Oct. 14 by connecting on 10-of-22 passes for 202 yards and a pair of scoring strikes, while adding two ground TDs … Earned “top performer” accolades from the Charlotte Observer … Played freshman season at Berry Academy before transferring to Vance prior to sophomore campaign … Directed the Cougars’ junior varsity from quarterback position in 2014 prior to competing at the varsity level on a full-time basis for the remaining two seasons … Enjoyed memorable initial career varsity start in 2015, completing 23-of-33 passes for 440 yards and six touchdowns against West Mecklenburg in the season opener … The 440-yard effort marked a school single-game standard, while the six scores matched a 15-year-old mark set by former Cougar and East Carolina signal-caller Paul Troth … Opened WMHS contest with an 81-yard scoring strike to older brother Jonathan … Completed 12-game junior campaign by passing for 3,213 yards and 30 touchdowns, which each ranked among the Top 25 single-season performances in Mecklenburg County history … Also rushed for 800 yards and 14 TDs in 2015 … Played quarterback position in recreational football leagues as a youth, crediting another older brother – Jamine – for teaching him the “idiosyncrasies” of the job … Also was a standout basketball player growing up (and earned two high school letters on the hardwood), but emphasized football after enrolling at Berry … Picked up three additional track letters … A three-star prospect who was rated 84th overall and 21st among dual-threat QBs nationally according to … Recruited by Appalachian State, Charlotte, Coastal Carolina, Colorado State, Georgia Southern, Georgia State and Pittsburgh, as well as Ivy League programs Harvard and Yale … Graduated with a 3.70 grade point average. Personal: Full name is Kingsley Onyekachukwu Ifedi … Nickname is King or Twelve … Born August 29, 1999 at Charlotte, N.C. … Son of Ike and Victoria Ifedi … Brothers Casey and Jamime attended ECU (Casey was a walk-on linebacker in the spring of 2013), while Jonathan signed with Georgia State as a wide receiver in 2016 … A (machine) sewing enthusiast who enjoys tailoring clothes … Also lists making video documentaries as an interest … Family hails from Ogidi, Anambra (Nigeria), speaks fluent Igbo and has had opportunities to travel back to that region.


Matt Morgan, OL, 6-5, 275, Fr., Clayton, N.C. (Corinth Holders HS)

Officially enrolled early at ECU in January of 2017 and will participate with the Pirates in spring drills, thus signed a grant-in-aid with the program instead of a letter-of-intent (per NCAA policy). High School: A team captain and four-year letterman for coach Guy (Bubba) Williams at Corinth-Holders … Played on both lines of scrimmage during prep career … Earned all-conference honors as a senior and was named the league’s lineman-of-the-year for both offense and defense … Defensively, was credited with 18 total tackles … Recorded 7.0 sacks that resulted in a loss of 40 yards …Helped lead Pirates, who also wore purple and gold, to conference titles as a freshman and sophomore before guiding squad to 9-3 mark in 2015 during junior campaign … Earned one track letter (shot put) … Prep coach was a deep snapper at ECU, lettering under Steve Logan in 2001 … Committed to East Carolina in June, 2016 after attending program’s elite camp on campus … Also recruited by Charlotte. Personal: Full name is Matthew J. Morgan … Born October 19, 1998 at Clayton, N.C. … Son of Beth Wingard and Jeremy Morgan … Father, whose nickname is Chipper, was a member of the ECU football program and coaches at the high school level … Enjoys fishing as top hobby.


Ja-Quane Nelson, DL, 6-3, 280, Fr., High Point, N.C. (Central HS)

High School: Recorded a total of 18 sacks and 87 overall stops as a three-year impact producer for coach Wayne Jones during prep career at High Point Central … Credited with 36 tackles (19 solo), 9.0 quarterback drops, three fumble recoveries as a senior team captain … Selected to all-conference and all-region (second-team) squads in 2016 … Logged 33 hits (19 solo), 11.0 TFLs, eight sacks (-47 yards), a pair of forced fumbles and a touchdown (fumble return) from defensive end slot during junior year to help Bison to a state playoff appearance … Earned varsity position as a sophomore and responded with 18 tackles (12 solo), 4.0 TFLs and a sack in seven contests … Rated as a three-star recruit and the No. 49 prospect in the state according to … Reportedly completed a bench press of 360 pounds and a squat of 455 while in high school … Earned a total of seven overall athletic letters as a member of the CHS football, baseball and track squads … Committed to ECU on July 28, 2016 … Also recruited by Appalachian State, Charlotte, North Carolina, N.C. State, Maryland, Purdue, Wake Forest … Strong performer in classroom with inclusion on school’s A/B Honor Roll. Personal: Full name is Ja-Quane Tadarrious Nelson, but goes by Quane … Born November 3, 1998 at High Point, N.C. … Son of Sharrone and Jeremiah Rorie … Lists fishing and video games as hobbies of choice.


Ben Norris, LB, 6-3, 220, Fr., Charlotte, N.C. (Myers Park HS)

Officially enrolled early at ECU in January of 2017 and will participate with the Pirates in spring drills, thus signed a grant-in-aid with the program instead of a letter-of-intent (per NCAA policy). High School: A three-year letterman and two-year starter for coach Scott Chadwick at Myers Park … Helped lead Mustangs to an 11-2 record (win total matched school record and was highest since 1983) and first-round 4AA state playoff victory against Northwest Guilford … Became MPHS’s first invite to the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas since 2001 … Also garnered all-state honors from USA Today and … Chosen as the Southwestern 4AA Defensive Player-of-the-Year … Additionally was named program’s linebacker-of-the-year … Effort of note during 2016 campaign was a season-high 12-stop performance against East Mecklenburg … Credited with 62 tackles, 8.0 TFL, 3.0 sacks and two interceptions as a junior despite being slowed by an injury … Earned all-conference honors in 2015 … Elevated to varsity squad as a sophomore and rotated starting assignments … Rated as a three-star recruit (37th in state) by … Among the top 60 prospects in North Carolina and given two stars by … In addition to ECU, also recruited by Louisville, West Virginia, Furman, Coastal Carolina, Elon and Georgetown … Excels in classroom with a 3.70 grade point average. Personal: Full name is Benjamin Chandler Norris … Born December 17, 1998 at Charlotte, N.C. … Son of Aimee and Rob Norris … Father played collegiate football at the Division III level, while mother played college basketball at Atlantic Coast Conference member Wake Forest … Older brother Clay is a quarterback in the Georgetown Hoyas program … Enjoys hunting and fishing.


Darius Pinnix, RB, 6-0, 225, Fr., Elon, N.C. (Western Alamance HS)

High School: Rushed for 2,068 yards and 40 touchdowns, and caught 162 passes for 2,793 yards and 28 scores during prep career at Western Alamance … Averaged 6.7 yards per run (307 carries) collectively as a sophomore, junior and senior … A three-time All-Mid-State 3A All-Conference and Greensboro News & Record All-Region selection for coach Jeff Snuffer … Also earned all-area honors in 2015 and 2016, while adding all-state accolades following senior campaign … Helped Warriors to an 11-3 mark (7-1 conference) and a pair of playoff wins over Southern Durham (21-16) and Cleveland (51-26) after rushing for 426 yards and 14 TDs on 73 attempts in a pass-oriented offensive scheme as a senior … Caught a career-best 73 balls for 1,225 yards and 16 scores out of the backfield … Racked up a personal-best 871 ground yards and 12 touchdowns on 109 carries (8.0 ypr), while hauling down 70 receptions for 1,288 yards and eight TDs during junior season that resulted in a 9-3 record (7-1 in league play) and first-round playoff showing for WAHS …Also involved on special teams with a pair of kickoff returns for 98 yards, including a 65-yarder during a victory over Northeast Guilford in 2015 … Earned first starting role as a sophomore and responded with 771 yards and 14 scores on 125 attempts (6.2 ypr) … Additionally, netted 19 catches for 280 yards and four touchdowns out of the passing game for Warriors in 2014 … Completed four-of-six passes for 49 yards as a senior and four-of-five throws for 90 yards as a freshman while experiencing limited action after late season promotion to varsity squad … Defensively, was listed as an end and was credited with a combined 92 tackles (59 solo), 12.5 TFL, 7.5 sacks and a pair of interceptions … Booked 63 stops as a senior, 13 as a junior and 16 as a sophomore … Committed to ECU program on July 27, 2016 … Recruited by Appalachian State, Charleston Southern, Coastal Carolina, East Tennessee State, Elon, Furman, Richmond, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and William & Mary … In all, earned 11 varsity letters – four in basketball (guard/forward), four in track (200, long jump) and three in football. Personal: Full name is Darius Leon Pinnix, Jr. … Born August 29, 1999 at Elon, N.C. … Son of Darius Pinnix and Liz Hedden … Followed in footsteps of father, who was a star defensive lineman and backup running back for Western Alamance … Lists working out and playing basketball as favorite activities.


Blake Proehl, WR, 6-1, 170, Fr., Charlotte, N.C. (Providence HS)

High School: A three-year letterman for coach Brad Bowles at Providence who recorded 80 career receptions for 1,424 yards and 14 touchdowns … Also contributed significantly to Panthers’ special teams squad with a combined 34 kickoff returns for 736 yards (21.6 ypr) and 29 punt returns for 196 yards (6.8 ypr) … In all, amassed 2,370 all-purpose yards in 37 prep outings … Earned All-SoMeck 8 Conference honors as a senior team captain after racking up 1,016 receiving yards and 12 scores on 52 catches … Posted a long reception of 66 yards in 2016 … Selected as wide receiver-of-the-year at the annual Charlotte Football Awards banquet … Averaged 22.7 yards per kickoff return (11-250) during final year in PHS program … Made notable impact on both offensive and special teams units during first full-time varsity campaign in 2015 with 22 catches for 336 yards and a pair of scores … Served as Panthers’ primary returner as a junior, tallying a collective 523 return yards on kickoffs (20-428) and punts (12-95) … Earned initial Providence varsity roster position as a sophomore and totaled 72 pass reception yards on six grabs after being elevated to starting status midway through season … Booked a personal single-season best 96 punt return yards in 13 attempts while also handling three kick returns for 58 yards … Committed to Pirates on June 22, 2016 after attending camp on the ECU campus … Rated as a three-star prospect and 48th in the state according to … Also recruited by Appalachian State, Charlotte, Elon, FIU, Georgia State, Air Force, Coastal Carolina, Duke, Furman, Liberty, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest … Picked up addition athletic letter in basketball during freshman year. Personal: Full name is Christian Blake Proehl … Born January 12, 1999 at Greensboro, N.C. … Son of Ricky and Kelly Proehl … Father, a former receivers coach for the Carolina Panthers, was a record-setting and All-Atlantic Coast Conference receiver at Wake Forest (1986-89) who was drafted in the third round (58th overall) of the 1990 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals and went on to enjoy a 17-year professional career that included 669 receptions for 8,878 yards and 54 touchdowns for six different organizations (two Super Bowl champions – 1999 St. Louis Rams and 2006 Indianapolis Colts) … Older brother Austin, who also starred as a wide receiver at Providence, signed with the North Carolina Tar Heel program in 2014 and made one catch for three yards against ECU as a true freshman during the Pirates’ 70-41 win at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium later that year on Sept. 20.


Davondre Robinson, DB, 6-0, 190, Fr., Holly Hill, S.C. (Lake Marion HS)

High School: A multi-positional athlete who was a two-time USA Today High School’s American Family Insurance ALL-USA South Carolina First-Team selection as a junior and senior team caption … A four-year letterman who played quarterback on offense, safety on defense and served as a punter and return specialist for coaches Chris Carter and Leonard Johnson (2016) at Lake Marion … Eclipsed the 100-tackle milestone in each of last three seasons (2014, 2015, 2016) … Invited to play in the prestigious Shrine Bowl of the Carolina All-Star Game and started on the South Carolina squad … Nominated to the 2017 U.S. Army All-American Bowl … A Preseason Defensive Small Schools All-America choice prior to senior campaign … Helped lead Gators to a 9-4 mark and S.C. Class AA Division I semifinals in 2015 … An Orangeburg Times & Democrat First-Team All-Area performer in 2016 … Also selected to the T&D’s Elite 11 (of top players in state) … Credited with 107 stops (100 solo) and three interceptions (145 return yards) as a junior team MVP … Offensively, completed 25-of-42 passes for 446 yards and a score, while rushing for 915 yards and five TDs on 61 carries (15.0 ypr) … Also made 23 receptions for 441 yards (19.2 ypr) and three touchdowns in 2015 … On special teams, averaged 49.4 yards per punt (34-1,679), netted 35.9 yards per kickoff return (16-359) and was 6-of-6 on extra-point tries … Collected 110 tackles (97 solo), netted three picks (91 yards) and knocked down six more passes as a sophomore … Contributed 835 air yards and four TDs while completing 45-of-81 tosses in 2014 … Came 30 yards shy of a 1,000-yard rushing campaign with 970 on 88 attempts (11.0 ypr) … Logged an additional four ground scores … Opened varsity career with 32 tackles (29 solo) and one interception as a freshman … Connected on 27-of-42 passes for 452 yards and four touchdowns, while rushing for 313 yards on 26 carries (12.0 ypr) in 2013 … Rated four stars by and stood as the highest-ranked safety prospect out of South Carolina (21st nationally) and fourth-best overall prospect in state … Awarded three stars by (sixth overall prospect in S.C., 32nd nationally at position) … Member of’s Top 150 … Reportedly clocked at 4.5 in the 40-yard dash, owns a 38″ inch vertical leap and a 485-pound squat lift … Committed to ECU on January 29, shortly after a campus visit … Also recruited by Clemson, Duke, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisville, Michigan, Mississippi State, North Carolina, NC State, Notre Dame, Penn State, South Carolina, Tennessee, UCF, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest … Earned honorable mention all-academic honors for work in classroom. Personal: Full name is Davondre T. Robinson … Nickname is Tank …Born February 14, 1999 at Orangeburg, S.C. … Son of Tina Elmore and Davon Robinson, but raised by grandparents Christine and Michael Washington.


Kennan Solomon, DL, 6-5, 275, Fr., Roxboro, N.C. (Person HS)

High School: Earned three varsity letters for coach David Kleine at Person … Helped lead Rockets to back-to-back NCHSAA Class 4A Playoff appearances as an All-PAC 6 performer in 2015 and 2016 … Selected to the 2016 Durham Herald-Sun All-Area squad as a senior team captain … Also tabbed as the PAC 6 Defensive Player-of-the-Year following senior campaign … Part of a PHS squad that posted a 7-5 record (3-3 in conference play) and a first-round postseason matchup against Greenville’s J.H. Rose High School … Credited with a team-leading 14 sacks and over 20 tackles for lost yardage during senior year … Rockets finished 2015 season with a 6-6 record and a first-round playoff exit following a loss to Durham Hillside … Participated in the 2016 Nike Football Rating Day … A three-star recruit per who was also listed among nation’s top 100 defensive ends … Also stood among top 50 overall prospects in state of North Carolina … Reportedly has turned in a 320-pound bench press, a 500-pound squad and a vertical leap of 30” … Also recruited by Central Michigan, Coastal Carolina, Duke, Miami (Ohio), Towson and Western Carolina … Picked up additional letters in basketball and track. Personal: Full name is Kennan Thomas Solomon … Born October 28, 1998 at Durham, N.C. … Son of Jennifer and Dwight Solomon … An avid outdoorsman, member of local 4-H Shooting Club … Also enjoys golf, gaming and paintball.


John Spellacy, OL, 6-1, 285, Fr., Westlake, Ohio (St. Ignatius HS)

High School: Played integral role as an anchor for an offensive line of a St. Ignatius program that rolled to a 13-2 mark, a state runner-up standing and No. 19 national rank in 2016 … Was a three-year varsity performer and team captain for legendary coach Chuck Kyle, who has totaled more than 300 victories and 11 state titles over four decades … Earned All-Ohio accolades as a senior (first-team) and junior (second-team) … A two-way player who also experienced action on the defensive line … Selected as the MVP of the offensive line following senior season, a campaign which ended with a 27-20 double overtime setback to St. Xavier in the Ohio Division I Championship Game … Helped Wildcats to a 5-4 mark in 2015 and was selected to the All-Northeast Lakes District squad … Earned a three-star rating, a No. 82 overall rank and a No. 25 national positional standing by … Rated as a two-star prospect by both and … Also recruited by Army, Navy, Ball State, Bowling Green, Duke, Eastern Michigan, Illinois, Marshall, Purdue, Syracuse, Toledo and Air Force … Excelled in the classroom with Second Honors, which recognizes students who possess a grade point average between 3.70 and 3.999 at the highly-regarded all-boys private school. Personal: Full name is John Anthony Spellacy … Born August 13, 1998 at Cleveland, N.C. … Son of John and Kathy Spellacy … Father, who was recently inducted into the Marshall Athletics Hall of Fame after a notable four-year football career that included 392 tackles and an appearance in the 1987 NCAA Division I-AA National Championship Game, was a college teammate of current East Carolina Offensive Coordinator & Quarterbacks Coach Tony Petersen.


Mydreon Vines, WR, 6-1, 170, Fr., Greenville, N.C. (J.H. Rose HS)

High School: Helped lead J.H. Rose to consecutive playoff appearances as a junior and senior, including a NCHSAA Class 4A Championship Game showing in 2015 … Completed three-year varsity career with 72 receptions for 1,233 yards and 14 touchdowns … Averaged 17.1 yards per catch for coach Dave Wojtecki … Also tallied 123 rushing yards on 14 carries, a clip of 8.8 per attempt … In all, was responsible for a combined 1,454 all-purpose from 2014 to 2016 … Caught 28 passes for 552 yards and seven TDs during senior campaign despite being limited to only seven games … Part of a Rampant squad that compiled a 7-5 record and advanced to the second round of the state playoffs after downing Person 49-6 in the postseason opener and falling to Hoggard in a 64-41 shootout the following week … Logged 41 receptions for 645 yards and seven scores as a junior while playing key role in Rose’s 12-3 overall record and an Eastern Regional 4A title before a bid for a state championship fell short in a 27-20 loss to Charlotte Catholic … Additionally, rushed for a personal single-season best 105 yards and two TDs on 12 carries, and returned six kickoffs for 60 yards in 2015 … Turned in notable effort against Rocky Mount with a pair of grabs for 41 yards and a 24-yarder scoring run … Was an important component of an Rampant offensive unit that generated 4,056 yards through the air and 2,837 on the ground … Promoted to varsity squad at end of sophomore season and made four receptions for 86 yards (21.5 ypr) and one touchdown …Opened junior varsity prep career on defensive side of the ball as a safety before being moved to the receiver slot for remainder of freshman year and recording 13 catches for 142 yards … Followed with 32 grabs for 682 yards and 15 TDs during sophomore JV stint before being called up to varsity unit … Considered a three-star prospect, listed among nation’s top 250 receivers and one of state’s top 50 overall talents by … Designated as a two-star recruit by both and … Officially committed to ECU program on June 17, 2016 … Also recruited by Appalachian State, Charleston Southern and North Carolina Central … An honor toll performer in the classroom. Personal: Full name is Mydreon Tyreke Vines … Born March 18, 1999 at Greenville, N.C. … Son of Angie and Larry Walker, and Michael Croom … Hobbies include playing video games with younger brother … Cousin of brothers Maleek and Marquis Gorham, who enjoyed productive local prep football careers at D.H. Conley and Rose High Schools before playing collegiately at Fayetteville State and North Carolina A&T, respectively.