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Houston: ECU roster not finalized

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Quarterback Holton Ahlers (12) takes off to run during the East Carolina spring Purple-Gold Game at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

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BY RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Monday, April 15, 2019

Coach Mike Houston said after Saturday’s spring Purple-Gold Game that today will be a big day for he and his staff to evaluate the entire East Carolina football roster, keeping in mind that more players will be added to the mix for preseason camp.

Cuts will likely be made and the very early stages of a preseason depth chart will begin for the Pirates, who are in their first year being led by Houston and the former highly successful James Madison coach is trying to rejuvenate a winning culture in Greenville.

“We will spend all morning dissecting this tape,” Houston said of today’s plans. “After we’ve watched the tape we will get together Monday afternoon and do a complete evaluation of our roster, top to bottom. We probably will have some cuts and probably will bring in some more players this summer, so our roster is not finalized yet for the 2019 season.”

Houston added that roster evaluation will include ECU coaches traveling to junior colleges this spring to look at potential additions, and staying in tune with graduate transfer possibilities.

Like it was during the winter shortly after Houston was hired on Dec. 3, team strength and conditioning director John Williams Jr. will have a heavy influence on workouts later this spring and into the summer.

“We need to be in much better conditioning shape, and I thought that was a factor today, and I think that we have a chance to develop some of our younger player this summer,” Houston said. “John Williams is as good as there is in this industry. He has a tremendous reputation and I obviously am a great believer in him and he will do a great job preparing our team to get ready, physically and mentally, for fall camp.”

Work with Williams will include some players gaining or losing weight.

“I feel a lot better and will cut more weight. I’ll probably get down to like 217 or 220 (pounds), to make even more plays and be more energetic,” said running back Darius Pinnix, who emerged this spring as a top rusher and had a 7-yard touchdown run during the Purple-Gold Game.

Key defensive players who were injured during the spring included lineman Kendall Futrell and linebacker Bruce Bivens. The secondary got a boost with consistent play from safety Daniel Charles, and linebacker Myles Berry continued his push to be an impact player.

Receiver Blake Proehl, who was limited at times during practices and wore a red non-contact jersey while thriving Saturday in routes, will look to continue to strengthen his legs to reach full potential this year.

The receivers who started the Purple-Gold Game on the No. 1 offense were Deondre Farrier, Leroy Henley and 6-foot-3, 202-pound redshirt freshman Andre Pegues.

Farrier made two catches for 12 yards, but it was Proehl whose three grabs for 69 yards included the lone touchdown reception. Tyler Snead had four receptions for 32 yards, Henley three for 43 and Mydreon Vines (41 yards) also had three catches.

“As soon as (Proehl) gets healthy, he’s going to run up the depth chart,” projected starting quarterback Holton Ahlers said of Proehl, who redshirted in 2017 after season-ending preseason ACL surgery and he played in 10 games last year with 29 receptions and a TD. “He’s already running with the 1s, but his thing is just getting healthy and he has all the tools. ... He’s going to be a great player here.”

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

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