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Darius Pinnix runs against SMU at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium during East Carolina’s 52-28 victory on Nov. 28.

A move that has been viewed as a possibility became official Wednesday night when East Carolina football veteran running back Darius Pinnix announced he was entering the transfer portal.

Pinnix started 13 total games from 2017-19 and started the first two of 2020, but it was the freshman duo of Rahjai Harris and Keaton Mitchell that took control of the Pirate rushing attack. Harris earned American Athletic Conference co-rookie of the year honors with four touchdowns and 624 rushing yards, followed by Mitchell’s 443 ground yards. Pinnix had 120 in his junior season.

Pinnix and Chase Hayden both entered the transfer portal as veteran ball-carriers. Hayden transferred from Arkansas to ECU last year and played sparingly for the Pirates. He announced this week he was transferring to Illinois.

ECU also signed Joseph McKay from Phenix City, Ala., in December and could look to add another RB before the start of next season. The next signing period is in February, and East Carolina can use the transfer portal to add players later in the year.

“I thought it was important to add a running back in this class, and obviously, we are excited about our running back room here,” Pirate coach Mike Houston said during the Dec. 16 signing day. “We were very honest with all our recruits about what we had on our current roster. ... (McKay) doesn’t flinch and he’s an outstanding high school football player as a big guy with some speed who runs with power and had a lot of offers down there in Phenix City. He ended up committing to us and I’ll think he’ll be a great addition to that room and he’ll push for playing time as soon as he gets here.”

Versatile Demetrius Mauney also is listed as a Pirate running back who played on special teams in the most recent season with no rushing attempts on offense.

A social media post by Pinnix included thanking Pirate fans and coaches for embracing him.

“Thank you to the Pirate family for supporting me through some especially rough times, big John (Williams) for being my rock and coach Houston for creating a strong culture for Pirate football that I will carry with me always,” he wrote. “While decisions are never easy to make, I am prepared to see what my future holds beyond ECU.”

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