Pirates open camp without Brown

Published 10:58 pm Thursday, August 3, 2017

GREENVILLE — One of the biggest questions surrounding East Carolina heading into the beginning of preseason camp on Thursday was the status of wideout Trevon Brown. The junior was academically ineligible last year, and sat out the spring due to a neck injury.

Brown remained medically unable to participate in the beginning of the preseason, per head coach Scottie Montgomery.

“Trevon Brown is eligible to play. He is not medically cleared to play,” Montgomery said after Thursday’s practice. “We are hoping that we can have him medically cleared soon. He’s just not medically cleared, but he is eligible to play this season. He’s done a good job getting himself back in good standards to be able to play.”

Along with seniors Jimmy Williams and Davon Grayson, Brown would round out what Montgomery has called a deeper receiver group than the one led by Zay Jones in 2016.

As expected, camp began with quarterbacks Gardner Minshew and Duke transfer Thomas Sirk dueling for the starting role. Montgomery said he wants to comfortably settle into a sure-fire starting quarterback by the end of camp.

“Our quarterback battle with Gardner and Thomas, that’s exactly what it is after day one,” Montgomery said. “I can’t wait to go see the tape. I thought Gardner did a good job of taking care of the football and maintaining possession of the football. I thought Thomas did a good job of getting the ball downfield and making some plays on the perimeter.”

Minshew got a handful of starts a year ago when starter Phillip Nelson was banged up. This offseason marked his first in the program, giving him an opportunity to slow down instead of learning on the fly.

Meanwhile, Sirk’s health has been a question since he elected to finish his collegiate career with the Pirates. The former Blue Devil has suffered a trio of Achilles tendon injuries. Montgomery said that Sirk appeared to be in top form to open the preseason.

“He’s completely back. He’s 100 percent,” said Montgomery, who has a background with Sirk from his time at Duke. “He was able to run the football. He was able to throw it deep down the field. He got the ball out quick. I thought his hands looked great. He was great in his drops. I thought he got the ball out like I remembered him getting it out.”

Minshew and Sirk will battle over the coming weeks, but it will remain to be seen whether either signal caller with have Brown as a target.


Other notes from ECU’s camp:

Two graduate transfers were cleared to join the Pirates on Thursday: punter Austin Barnes and defensive back Korrin Wiggins. Barnes is expected to slot into the opening left by Worth Gregory. Wiggins should add further depth to a talented secondary that, with the new 4-2-5 scheme, will field an extra man.

“A lot of depth, a lot of knowledge coming from Korrin. Just a lot of knowledge coming from him,” Montgomery said of the Clemson transfer. “I thought it would take him a while to get him up and going. He’s been in a championship program. With our punter, it’s one of those situations where those guys come in, work really hard. He has a great understanding of how quickly we need to get the ball out.”