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Pirates making final spring tune-ups

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Scottie Montgomery

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By Nathan Summers
The Daily Reflector

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Purple-Gold game is almost here, and with it will come the final time for a few months for East Carolina football players to impress their coaches in live action.

A busy final week for ECU and second-year head coach Scottie Montgomery began with Monday night’s full-contact session, continues to Wednesday night with what the coach called a “self practice” and also includes a Friday afternoon walkthrough in advance of Saturday’s annual spring game.

The Pirates made the most of Monday’s final full-contact workout before Saturday. Big plays kept coming from familiar sources, including the almost constant connection between junior starting quarterback Gardner Minshew and senior wide receiver Jimmy Williams.

“Gardner did some really good things to get our offense in the best, absolute play we could be in,” said Montgomery, whose team is trying to rebuild following last season’s 3-9 finish.

Echoing a spring-long sentiment, the coach complimented another sparkling day from Williams, the team’s top returning receiver who made catches of 47 and 20 yards including a touchdown on Monday.

A big part of the reconstruction effort is happening on the other side of the ball, where potential rising stars like redshirt freshman linebacker Aaron Ramseur continued to make their presence felt. Ramseur made an interception return for a touchdown during Monday’s team period.

“(Ramseur) made another spectacular play, flashed again and he had a pick for a touchdown,” Montgomery said. “Aaron is just doing some things and we’ve got to make sure we can teach him every part of the game so he doesn’t make a big play and then make a mistake, but he’s coming on.”

Part of Montgomery’s initial signing class in 2016, the 6-foot-1, 215-pound Ramseur could become a cornerstone player in the future of the team’s new 4-2-5 scheme, and Montgomery said the Shelby native is getting some valuable tutelage from seniors Ray Tillman and Jordan Williams.

According to second-year inside linebackers coach Ryan Anderson, Ramseur is navigating what can be a very difficult transition for players, from spending their redshirt season on scout team to being expected to compete for a place on the depth chart the following year.

But Anderson also knows talent like Ramseur’s is what makes versatility in play-calling possible.

“When you see guys that have athleticism, the biggest thing is you have confidence that whatever you call is going to work,” he said. “You can put guys out there and whatever you call, you have confidence that their athletic ability is going to make it work, whether it’s a mismatch problem or whatever. That’s the greatest thing about my (position group) now, having a little bit of depth and guys that are younger making plays, is that it creates constant competition.”

Montgomery also lauded some great reads and tackles for loss by rising junior defensive end Justin Brown, who learned to play on the inside of coordinator Kenwick Thompson’s new four-man front before shifting back to his original spot. Senior Mike Myers recovered a fumble and sophomore end Kendall Futrell continued to show his rapid growth under first-year position coach Robert Prunty.

In terms of injuries, Montgomery estimated five or six players remained sidelined, though junior defensive end Yiannis Bowden made his return on Monday.

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

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