Stepping Up: Few certainties after ECU’s stellar recruiting week

Published 6:57 pm Tuesday, June 20, 2017

It’s near impossible to forecast a college football program’s standing years out based on recruiting alone. A four- or five-star player at a key position — quarterback, running back, receiver, linebacker — can have an immediate impact. He can also fizzle out and never reach his projected potential.

Conversely, as East Carolina football fans know, players under the radar can shift the course of the program for a few years. Justin Hardy and Zay Jones combined for just a handful of Division I offers going into college. Each receiver cemented his legacy with the Pirates and went on to get drafted by NFL teams.

So what meaning can be found in the incredible recruiting tear that ECU has been on for the last week and change? The Pirates added seven commitments to their 2018 recruiting class, and also landed Clemson graduate transfer safety Korrin Wiggins.

Among the recent players to commit his services to ECU is Riverside standout Jadakis Bonds. The 6-foot-2 receiver is a three-star prospect, according to 247Sports. Northside fans may remember him from the Panthers’ Week 5 trip to Williamston last season.

Riverside’s Jadakis Bonds, playing defensive back, brings down Northside’s quarterback Jackson Midgette during a lopsided win for the Knights last season. Bonds is one of seven 2018 prospects to have committed to ECU in the past week or so.

Northside had won its first four games of the season. Heading into the clash, the Panthers and Knights were both ranked in the Associated Press top 10 in the 1-A classification. Bonds amassed 116 receiving yards and three touchdowns — one of three receivers to score multiple times — in the 61-14 thrashing.

He’s not the only local product among the seven to commit recently. Northside-Jacksonville three-star safety Jireh Wilson and Southwest Onslow defensive end D’Angelo McKinnie are other eastern North Carolina prospects who will join Bonds in purple and gold.

Wiggins, the eighth player to commit his services to the Pirates in the last week or so, will have a more immediate impact. He comes from a national-championship program. Transfers are never sure-fire additions, but he’s a seasoned, veteran player who will help round out ECU’s secondary come September.

No one will know what Wiggins brings to the table until he’s seen in action when the season begins Sept. 2 against James Madison. The wait is longer for the 13 total commits ECU has for its 2018 recruiting class. Few, if any, will see significant playing time in their first year, so it could be another two or three years before this surge in recruiting can properly be assessed.

There is one thing that can be determined. The way that head coach Scottie Montgomery and his staff have hit the recruiting trail sends a message to the fan base. After a 3-9 season in his first year at the helm, Montgomery and company are hard at work doing their part so that after two or three years, the Pirates are where they want them to be.

If nothing else, this past week-plus has been exciting. ECU is in the midst of its best recruiting span in recent memory. It’s yet another chapter in what’s been an interesting offseason.

The message is clear: Montgomery and the Pirates aren’t content with where they finished last season.