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UCLA transfer receiver joins Pirates

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

East Carolina football’s offense received a potential immediate boost Wednesday in the form of receiver Audie Omotosho, a coast-to-coast graduate transfer who is now a Pirate after not catching a pass at UCLA from 2016 to ’18.

The 6-foot-2, 180-pound receiver, a former four-star recruit out of Plano East High School in Texas, practiced officially with the Pirates for the first time on Wednesday morning. He has two years of eligibility remaining in a collegiate career that has been sidetracked by injuries. At ECU, he is wearing No. 8, which was worn formerly by outside receiver Tahj Deans, who left the team earlier in preseason camp.

“He’s completely healthy and we were able to get him checked out before he transitioned here,” ECU coach Mike Houston said after Wednesday’s workout. “Our doctors checked him out again, even when he got here, and there is nothing wrong with him. He is excited to get out there and start practicing and going.”

Omotosho’s bio at UCLA said that he did not see game action in three years, serving as a redshirt sophomore for coach Chip Kelly and the Bruins last season. He redshirted in 2016, was rehabbing a knee injury the following season and a year ago did not play because of an undisclosed injury, according to a Los Angeles Daily News report in January.

Fellow Pirate receiver Leroy Henley helped guide Omotosho during walkthrough portions of his first practice in Greenville.

“He has strong character and graduated from UCLA in three years, so we’ve been working on this for most of the summer,” Houston said. “People didn’t have the same urgency that we had, so it took him a few days to get cleared. ... He was in a helmet (and no shoulder pads) during a padded practice, so there is only so much you can do. But certainly he is a highly skilled athlete and he looked the same way in person today like he did on film.

“You are taking a guy who you hope can acclimate pretty quick and can learn our offense pretty quick. He has been studying it, on paper, for a while now, but still getting out there and doing it is different."

Omotosho enrolled at UCLA in the summer of 2016, choosing the Bruins during the recruiting process over reported offers from Oklahoma State, TCU, SMU, Arkansas and others. He announced on Jan. 18 on Twitter that he was leaving UCLA as a grad transfer.

He is the first East Carolina receiver from a Texas high school since All-American Zay Jones (2013-16).

Deans was seventh in receiving yards for the Pirates last season, catching 18 passes for 187 yards and a touchdown.

Trevon Brown led the ECU receiving corps as a senior in 2018 with 1,123 yards and nine touchdowns to give the Pirates a 1,000-yard receiver in an NCAA-best seven straight seasons. Deondre Farrier is the team’s leading returning pass-catcher for this year after 30 grabs for 372 yards and two TDs.

In addition to Omotosho at receiver, sophomore Zech Byrd (6-7, 265) is a new Pirate tight end after his transfer from Garden City (Kan.) Community College to begin preseason camp with the Pirates. Byrd’s recruitment during high school included him committing to Florida from the Southeastern Conference.

“We had a few drops early in practice (Tuesday) and rebounded about midway through practice, but I thought we had a pretty consistent day throughout today,” Houston said. “We had good energy and leadership from our quarterbacks, which was a big factor with it.”

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

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