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Blackwell brings no compromise

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East Carolina defensive Coordinator David Blackwell, left, and head coach Scottie Montgomery on Dec. 8, 2017. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)

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BY NATHAN SUMMERS
The Daily Reflector

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

When it comes to East Carolina football, David Blackwell has high standards and nothing else.

The team’s new defensive coordinator speaks from experience when talking about winning, and if any of his players are in the dark about some of the notable eras in ECU history, the former Pirate player and staffer can certainly fill in the details. Although only two spring practices are in the books since he took command of a defense that got routinely torched on the way to a second straight 3-9 season last year, in Blackwell’s eyes that is two chances to start living up to a new standard.

“Our job as a team is to be the best team in the history of the program,” Blackwell said following the Pirates’ Wednesday workout. “We’re not there yet. The bar is set pretty high. The goal is to embrace our tradition and beat it.”

Blackwell has been around ECU greatness before.

He played a limited role as an offensive lineman on the Pirates’ 1992 Peach Bowl team before his career was cut short by a neck injury, and he then became an undergraduate staff member under coach Steve Logan.

“The team I played on in 1992 set the bar,” said Blackwell, who is the permanent replacement for third-year ECU head coach Scottie Montgomery’s defense after the coach fired Kenwick Thompson early in 2017 and defensive line coach Robert Prunty stepped in to finish the season. “Before that, we talked about the ’83 team and that was the standard.”

Blackwell acknowledges the Pirates have been “close” a handful of times since then. But he also is quick to set an even loftier goal than any yet achieved by the Pirates, even though the defense he adopted finished at or near the bottom of the nation in a handful of defensive areas last season.

“One day this team needs to do what Central Florida did,” Blackwell said, referring to UCF’s undefeated 2017 campaign that had many calling the Knights to be crowned the national champion. “Our conference can do that. This league can do that, and it’s been proven, and there’s no reason East Carolina can’t get there like that.”

ECU returns to the practice field on Friday afternoon, part of a 15-session spring that culminates with the March 24 Purple-Gold game in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

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

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