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Coaches chat it up in Greenville

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East Carolina first-year head football coach Mike Houston talks with high school coaches at the Eastern North Carolina Football Coaches Association clinic at the Holiday Inn on Jan. 11, 2019. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Friday, January 11, 2019

A new recruiting period opened nationwide for college football on Friday, which coincided in Greenville at the Holiday Inn with a unique meeting of high school and college coaches from all over the state and even a prep state champion coach from South Carolina.

The fourth annual Eastern North Carolina Football Coaches Association clinic is a two-day event being held in Greenville for the first time.

Fittingly, first-year East Carolina head coach Mike Houston served as the keynote speaker, talking about practice habits and important game specifics like field position and the turnover battle, but also off-the-field aspects like leadership and academics and what college coaches look for in recruiting high school players.

Atlantic Coast Conference schools N.C. State, North Carolina, Wake Forest and Duke also were represented, including new UNC defensive coordinator Jay Bateman in attendance along with Wake Forest special teams coordinator Wayne Lineburg.

Houston addressed the crowd, and then coaches mingled and discussed football during a chalk talk session.

“I want to take any advantage I can to be able to get in front of the high school coaches in the state of North Carolina,” said Houston, whose head coaching career began in the prep ranks at T.C. Roberson High School in Asheville. “Our (recruiting) footprint is going to go all the way from New Jersey to deep into Florida … but our big emphasis is going to be in-state. We are going to reach those other regions, but you are going to see that the vast majority of the players that we are going to take are going to be in-state players because I think East Carolina has a strong name in this state and the football is good in this state.”

Houston was joined by a host of Pirate staff members, including offensive coordinator Donnie Kirkpatrick and defensive coordinator Bob Trott.

The second day of the event will have a heavy emphasis on high school coaching and strategy.

“For the recruiting and social aspect, Friday night is great and that is kind of how we try to make it,” Greene Central coach Allen Wooten said. “For the Xs and Os and the practice and other aspects, tomorrow can be extremely beneficial. That is especially for the young ones, but even the old ones and if you learn even one thing then most coaches are going to be pretty happy.”

Houston stressed the fine details of practices and techniques during part of his address to the assembled coaches.

“Your style of practice must match your style of play on game days,” he said. “Every snap counts.”

Dry-erase boards were available if coaches wanted to diagram plays or specifics, but mostly the men engaged casually and walked around the room to socialize and talk football. Conversations, in many cases, allowed for some ribbing and light-hearted jabs at each other throughout the night.

The event was previously held in New Bern and Pine Knoll Shores. ENCFCA president Paul Cornwell, the longtime football coach and athletics director at Ayden-Grifton, said there is a sense of pride with having the clinic in Pitt County.

“This is the second time we have done a Friday night like this and this is definitely the best one we’ve had,” Cornwell said. “We’re really excited. Greenville is so ideal because it is an easy access for a lot of our guys in the area.”

Contact Ronnie Woodward at rwoodward@reflector.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.

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