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Pirates set for busy finish

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East Carolina players practice during the first scrimmage of football spring practice Saturday, April 1, 2017.

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By Nathan Summers
The Daily Reflector

Saturday, April 15, 2017

East Carolina football took a bit of a hiatus this week, but it was all in the name of finishing spring drills hard, culminating with the team’s annual Purple-Gold scrimmage a week from today.

Hoping to continue developing consistency and positional depth, second-year head coach Scottie Montgomery and his team will be back on the field four total times in the week ahead. The Pirates moved last Wednesday’s workout to this week, meaning they will now be on the field Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday to close the spring period.

One consistency through the 15-session spring phase has been Montgomery’s message of wanting big plays and a defined group of players who can regularly make them. That mentality has pushed players like senior receiver Jimmy Williams and sophomore transfer safety Tim Irvin to the forefront of Montgomery’s blueprint for the coming season.

“I want to see guys continue to separate. I think we’ve got a few guys that are starting to turn into playmakers. I think we’ve got a few guys that are starting to want to be physical every play,” Montgomery said.

It will be a final week of important chemistry development for rising junior quarterback Gardner Minshew, already named as the starter for the coming season.

After starting the final two games last season in place of Philip Nelson, Minshew appears to have won over his teammates as well as his coaches.

“You see him working in the offseason, you see him come out here on the field and the things he’s learned over the offseason that are translating onto the field, you just know he has the leadership and the ability to be out here and make great decisions and lead us to a lot of wins,” said Williams, the team’s top returning receiver who has already linked with Minshew for a handful of touchdowns this spring.

On the other side of the ball, the switch to a new scheme and two new position coaches means every minute of practice that remains is vital for development. But Montgomery and his staff also have been witness to the rise of some new talent.

At inside linebacker, the Pirates have the luxury of experience with top returning tackler Jordan Williams fronting the unit, and junior Joe Carter returns with experience, but a new identity is forming with the continued emergence of redshirt freshman Aaron Ramseur and junior college transfer Cannon Gibbs.

“(Ramseur) is making some plays at the will backer position and we’ve got some junior college guys now, and Cannon, what he’s done is he’s allowed the people around him to continue to get better that he’s playing with, and that’s a big job for a mike backer,” Montgomery said of the emerging duo at the critical middle positions in the team’s 4-2-5 scheme under coordinator Kenwick Thompson. “They’ve both done well, and Jordan is just an anchor and Joe has been really good and we continue to get better at that position.”

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

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