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Pirates hope to add pair to class

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

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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.

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ECU

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