Mike Houston has Pirates in top 5 of AAC for 2020 recruiting class

Published 6:09 pm Thursday, June 27, 2019

GREENVILLE — Years of struggling in recruiting have put the East Carolina Pirates in a rather deep hole, which has resulted in four consecutive losing seasons. New head football coach Mike Houston is looking to change that, and it starts with recruiting.

As it stands, the Pirates are having their best recruiting season since they finished 69th in team recruiting rankings in 2004, the same year former Tennessee Titan Chris Johnson signed his letter of intent to attend ECU. That year, the Pirates finished fifth among teams from the Conference-USA. The recruiting class of 2000 was the last time ECU finished in the top 50 when they rounded up the 44th best class in the country, leading the Conference-USA.

This year, Houston has the Pirates in the top-65 in recruiting through three recruiting websites — 247Sports (61), Scout (58), and Rivals (58) — with a wide spread of athletes coming from different states down the East Coast.

Of course, there’s still quite a bit of time between now and the two national signing days for division-I football players, Dec. 18 and Feb. 5. However, having 13 verbal commitments before the month of July is quite the statement from Houston in his inaugural season.

ECU has verbal commitments from four North Carolina natives. Jason Romero Jr., a 6-foot-4 inch wide receiver from Laurinburg; J’Vian McCray, a 6-foot-1 inch defensive tackle from Shallotte; Jaquaez Powell, a 6-foot-4 inch center weighing in at 305 pounds from Pinetops and CJ Crump, a 6-foot cornerback from Greensboro.

ECU’s highest ranked commitment is three-star Sean Tucker out of Washington D.C.; he is ranked the 100th-best cornerback in the nation by Rivals, and is the 13th highest rated recruit coming out of D.C.

While Houston was at a Pirate Club event in Washington earlier this year, his emphasis was on the recruiting trail. He talked about the 2019 class and how he plans to get traction early for the 2020 class. He also mentioned the factor of his players buying in to the program.

“Our players are tired of being 3-9, so they’re as ready as anybody for a change,” Houston said. “Our first test of our players being bought in will be the first time we face adversity this season. So far, they’ve done a great job of buying in.”

Houston knew that changing the culture around the program was a big deal. In his first semester wearing purple and gold, his team reached a cumulative 2.74 GPA, which is the highest in school history.

ECU has plenty of work to do according to Houston, but they’re moving in the right direction.