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Pirates hope to add pair to class


ECU's head football coach Scottie Montgomery during the East Carolina vs Central Florida football game at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, Oct. 1.


By Nathan Summers
The Daily Reflector

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

With National Signing Day for college football prospects exactly two weeks away, East Carolina is hoping its new crop of talent is about to grow by two.

The Pirates have 21 slots filled in advance of signing day. With an expectation to fill all 25 available vacancies, however, ECU is hot on the trail of a handful of recruits to round out a class that will be leaned on heavily to help rewrite the script of a team that went 3-9 last season and has not attended a bowl game since 2014.

A developing class that boasts nine players from North Carolina could add its first member from traditional ECU hotbed Virginia Beach. Among the team’s weekend visitors was Bishop Sullivan High School cornerback Chris Hunt, who could be a nice signing day complement to defensive backfield commit Delvontae Harris (Newnan, Ga./Newnan), a safety, and junior college corner Marcus Holton Jr. (Tallahassee, Fla./Georgia Military), one of five transfers in class for the spring semester.

An offensive line in need of long-term depth, but which could also use some quick fixes, might get one in the person of former Iowa State starting left tackle Jaypee Philbert Jr. After being suspended for much of the 2016 campaign by the Cyclones, Philbert announced in December he planned to graduate transfer, and the one-time Coffeyville (Kan.) JUCO standout also visited Greenville over the weekend to consider making ECU his final collegiate stop.

If he does, Philbert will join a team that has added JUCO guard Dqmarcus Shaw (Batesville, Miss./Itawamba Community College), but which is also set to keep building from the ground up with high school tackle commit Matthew Morgan (Wendell/Corinth Holders) and center John Spellacy (Cleveland/Saint Ignatius).

Also expected to send letters of intent to ECU on Feb. 1 are wide receivers Jayden Borders (Shelby/Shelby), Leroy Henley (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Cardinal Gibbons), Blake Proehl (Charlotte/Providence) and Mydreon Vines (Greenville/J.H. Rose); quarterbacks Kingsley Ifedi (Charlotte/Vance) and Mic Roof (Buford, Ga./Buford) and running backs Trace Christian (Altamonte Springs, Fla./Lake Brantley) and Darius Pinnix (Elon/Western Alamance).

Tight end Eric Weber (Blythewood, S.C.), who spent last season at Southwest Mississippi Community College, is on campus.

Other expected defensive signees are ends Taijh Alston (Cameron/Union Pines) and Blake McClain (Booneville, Miss./NE Mississippi Junior College), tackle Ja-Quane Nelson (High Point/High Point Central), inside linebacker Bruce Bivens (Houston/Davis-Aldine) and OLB Ben Norris (Charlotte/Myers Park).

Also in class are former JUCO ILB Cannon Gibbs (Brandon, Miss./Jones County Junior College) and DE Tyree Owens (Oviedo, Fla../Copiah-Lincoln Community College).

App State series

East Carolina and Appalachian State, two programs which share a rivalry dating back to its roots in the Southern Conference, agreed to a four-year home-and-home football series in 2021, ‘24, ‘25 and ‘26, according to a joint announcement by both institutions Tuesday.

The Mountaineers will host the Pirates at Charlotte's Bank of America Stadium on Sept. 4, 2021, to renew a 31-game series that originated in 1932. The arrangement also features contests at ECU's Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Sept. 14, 2024, and Sept. 5, 2026, along with a meeting at ASU's Kidd Brewer Stadium in Boone on Sept. 6, 2025.

Appalachian State owns a 19-12 lead in the series, but the two programs have met only twice since 1979. East Carolina used 29-24 and 35-13 victories in Greenville to open the 2009 and 2012 campaigns, respectively, to extend its current win streak to six straight against the Mountaineers.

"Both football programs have a rich history of success and outstanding fan support," ECU Director of Athletics Jeff Compher said. "I am especially excited for our future football student-athletes who will have an opportunity to play in such an exceptional NFL venue as Bank of America Stadium. We are grateful to Doug Gillen and our colleagues at Appalachian for working together in creating this four-game series."

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


Humans of Greenville


Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.


October 21, 2018

These three questions appeared in The Daily Reflector’s Pirate Gameday section previewing East Carolina’s home football game against 10th-ranked Central Florida, which ended with UCF pulling away for a 37-10 victory on homecoming night at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

Here are the answers, and…


October 20, 2018

As the final seconds ticked off the clock at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Saturday night, two numbers still resonated with the matchup between 10th-ranked Central Florida and upset-minded East Carolina.

One. Twenty.

Freshman quarterback and Greenville native Holton Ahlers was making his first start and…

102118ECUfootball-2.jpg (1).jpg

October 20, 2018

A wet ball proved to be the first major stumbling block in the first-career start by East Carolina freshman quarterback Holton Ahlers in a 37-10 loss to Central Florida on Saturday night.

After marching his trailing Pirates to the UCF goal line early in the fourth quarter, Ahlers tried a jump pass…


October 20, 2018

These three questions appeared in The Daily Reflector’s Pirate Gameday section previewing East Carolina’s home football game against 10th-ranked Central Florida. 

Check back after the primetime matchup for answers to the questions and more insight from the game.

1. Who wins the…


October 20, 2018

Before Holton Ahlers signed on Dec. 20, 2017, to play football at East Carolina, he was a star quarterback at D.H. Conley High School. Before that, a baseball slugger unlike anyone else who had ever played on Greenville recreational fields.

“That thing broke my darn windshield!" a woman…


October 20, 2018

New starting quarterback Holton Ahlers and East Carolina welcome undefeated Central Florida to Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium tonight for a primetime matchup on ESPN2 that many people around the country will at least check in on to see if UCF could get upended.

There is no denying that a win by the Pirates,…


October 20, 2018

Q: Why did you want to major in criminal justice?

A: I’ve always liked (TV) shows like “Criminal Minds” and “CSI: Miami” and “Law & Order.” I just decided I wanted to be something in that field, like a DEA (Drug Enforcement…


October 19, 2018

While the American Athletic Conference East division remains a three-team race, Houston is in the driver’s seat as the only remaining unbeaten team in the West.

Houston, which just defeated East Carolina 42-20 and has won its first two league games by an average 18.5 points, moved to No. 2 in…


October 19, 2018

Central Florida’s 19-game football winning streak saw its closest contest yet last Saturday at Memphis.

The 10th-ranked Knights recovered from a slow start and rallied to win, 31-30, for a 6-0 record this season.

Following that emotional victory with a road game versus a struggling opponent…

SMU UCF Football

October 18, 2018

Less than three weeks away from starting a new season on Nov. 6, the East Carolina women’s basketball team had a major change in leadership Wednesday when head coach Heather Macy resigned at the conclusion of an ECU internal review into the program.

Macy, who is the winningest coach in ECU…

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