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Ifedi on campus, ready to excel

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Charlotte Vance quarterback and East Carolina commit Kingsley Ifedi throws a pass during a game this season.

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By Nathan Summers
The Daily Reflector

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Kingsley Ifedi possesses the rare combination of Division I athleticism and an Ivy League brain, and he is ready to unleash both of them in a dual role at East Carolina.

The multi-gifted quarterback out of Charlotte’s Vance High School had offers from Atlantic Coast Conference teams, but also from arguably the two most celebrated academic institutions in America. East Carolina was in the running too, however, and multiple factors led the fleet-footed, 6-foot-2, 202-pound dual-threat passer to a familiar place in Greenville.

The man who dazzled in his final season at Vance last fall has already switched gears and is on campus in Greenville, thanks at least in part to a family connection with the Pirates, but also to a bond with now second-year ECU head coach Scottie Montgomery.

“ECU has always had a special place in my heart, and especially when Coach Mo got here. That really sealed the deal,” said Ifedi, who has two brothers that attended ECU before him, one of whom, Casey, was a member of the ECU scout team in 2013 under former head coach Ruffin McNeill. “Getting around the players and making my official visit and meeting Coach Mo for the first time, it really just set the other schools apart.”

Ifedi’s abilities to run the ball and throw it could give him an immediate foothold in a QB competition that will also feature rising junior Gardner Minshew, redshirt freshman Reid Herring and fellow incoming rookie Mic Roof.

One key part of Ifedi’s transition from high school to college will be playing with the knowledge that he no longer has to do everything himself, and that he has to compete once again to become his team’s main man.

“I’m working on not trying to be the hero so much because in high school, some of the plays that weren’t there I could extend, just make the superhero play,” said Ifedi, who was named the Charlotte Observer’s offensive player of the year this year. “I know in college you’ve got to be a lot smarter with the ball. Your game has to mature. I just have to mature my game and make better decisions with the ball. But as a dual-threat quarterback, I get to make plays when they’re not there through the air. And I think I bring leadership too.”

Ifedi spent the last two-plus years as the starter at Vance, knowing he did not have to look over his shoulder. Things are about to be very different, but the passer said he is ready for it.

“I’m very excited to compete. In my mind, I’m the greatest guy, but just saying it won’t prove anything,” said Ifedi, who amassed  5,144 total yards and 64 touchdowns as a senior, the fourth most total yards in North Carolina high school history. “I’ve really got to go out there and show them, earn my stripes in the program.”

For ECU, which is rebounding from a 3-9 season, perhaps the biggest obstacle in getting a commitment from Ifedi came in the form of the ACC’s Pittsburgh Panthers.

Ifedi admitted he had “a lot of interest in Pittsburgh,” and the Panthers had plenty of interest in him. But he said his bond with the Pirates overrode all the other offers, including those from both Harvard and Yale.

“When it came down to it, East Carolina just had more advantages to me,” Ifedi said, stressing that the potential for early or even immediate playing time carried a good deal of weight in his choice. “Academics-wise, obviously I'll fit in very well, and I look at both sides of being a student-athlete. That's how I got here.”

Ifedi's family ties to ECU proved to be more than just something to consider prior to his verbal commitment to the Pirates.

Knowing Greenville long before his official visit to the school provided Ifedi a level of comfort with the university and the city that most recruits do not already have.

“Ever since five or six years ago I've been here, I've been around the campus and I’ve always loved this place,” he said.

Contact Nathan Summers at nsummers@reflector.com, 252-329-9595 or follow @NateSumm99 on Twitter.

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