Lost in the Day…Not a Bad Recruiting Class

Solomon could be a stud at WR

In the end, I think we will all be pretty happy with today’s recruiting class when it comes to when and how these young men perform for the Pirates. With the Pirates on the short list for some very highly-regarded players, the focus seemed to be on whether or not any of them would actually sign.

And those coveted players…well…they all chose to sign elsewhere. Disappointing for sure, but with all of the hoopla over whether or not they would opt for ECU on signing day, it may be easy for folks to discount the young men who DID sign…who wanted to be Pirates.

There are some good ones on this list…kids who had they said they were going to wait till today to sign, we would of been discussing just like the boys who chose to go elsewhere.

The class of 18 (for now) breaks down like this:

  • 12 prep players
  • 6 JUCOs
  •  11 defensive players
  • 7 offensive players
  • 5 DBs, 6 LBs on defense
  • 3 WRs,
  • 4 OLs on offense;

They hail from: NC (5), SC (3), FL (2), CA (2),  VA (2),  MS (2), DC, GA

Scarborough is a Beast LB

I am happy with this haul of players, though I am also concerned about what we see and do not see in this class. So, here are my thoughts…for what they are worth.

The Pros

  • The kids Ruff and crew brought in pass the eyeball test (maybe even the sweating eyeball test). There have been years where kids came in that didn’t even look like top division football players. These kids all look the part.
  • We signed 4 OLs and they have serious size.
  • Defensive backs-a-plenty and all are quality,
  • Athletic Linebackers out the wazzoo
  • 3 WRs…the JUCO, particularly, could really be a stud here, and with our young talent, he must be special.
  • We have more than 18 schollies to give and when we only signed 18, we didn’t panic and grab anyone available…I like that this staff clearly knows what they are looking for in players.

The Cons

  • No Running Back. When I spoke to Lincoln Riley, he seemed to indicate that the staff really thought that either Cross or Duncan would have come. It doesn’t even matter if it was one those two, but we needed at least one RB in this class, IMO. Even the JUCO that we are all reading about, we need bodies. Bullock is the starter…and Hunt will be the back-up, but after that we have Dobson, who has talent but always seems to make a mistake at the worst time and while Chris Hairston has promise, his injury was pretty bad. UPDATE: Due to insufficient brain capacity, I forgot Hunter Furr is in the mix now…which does greatly appreciate our RB situation. Riley is jacked to see how he performs in spring. I feel better now. Thanks to JPG for that gentle reminder.
  • No Quarterback. This one particularly irks me. Lincoln told me that they had  a bunch of good quarterbacks interested but Coker was the one he wanted. Coker committed and continued to say he was solid and we told the other guys to find another place to go because we don’t recruit “like that” and it burned us. We need at least 1 QB in each class…or so Riley has consistently insisted.
  • I know we are not microwaving the program here, but we sure did seem to JUCO it hard this year (a full one-third of the class).

Not Sure:

  • We didn’t sign a DL in this class. I am assuming that Dontrill Hyman is definitely coming; hence, we are already fine at DL.
  • We only signed 5 from NC…I am wondering what this means? A shift in philosophy or just “the way it worked out this year?

So, here are my thoughts on the highlights in this class:

Biggest needs met: Clearly, Adonis Armstrong (CB) and Lucas Thompson (S) were pivotal in this class. Armstrong is a lock down corner with big-play abilities and he can return kicks and Colby Brown was also brought in to play now. Thompson is simply that good already as a true freshman. He may be on the depth chart as a true freshman. Godfrey Thompson was also a big pickup in the secondary, too. This defense could be amazing next season, but only if the secondary can get up to speed quickly.

Offensive Big Gets: We needed OLs badly because we need depth, particularly at tackle. So, getting McLaughlin was huge. He could press for time early. I like Revia as well.

Linebackers: Dre Scarborough. I am assuming he will be an OLB, but that mother can hit. And with that kind of speed and being a jaw-jacker, maybe he finds himself inside? Either way…nice pickup for the Pirates.

My favorite gets…Lance Ray…I think he is going to be a special WR here…much like Lewis was his two years. And, Jabril Solomon is a special looking talent.

In the end, I am with Ruff…they gotta want to be here. If not, they will never pan out regardless of who they may  be or whatever pedigree they have. Now…I am focused on spring ball…which can’t get here soon enough. Please share your thoughts on what you like, don’t like about this class.

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14 Comments

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14 responses to “Lost in the Day…Not a Bad Recruiting Class

  1. Chris

    Ron, the big question for me is how many “good” players did we miss out on going after the “great” ones that ended up somewhere else? I know we can feel like we didn’t leave anything on the table, but we may have missed a handful of solid players going after top tier that some may argue we didn’t have a chance to get. I’m torn on this.

    • Chris that is a question our staff should always be asking themselves when they concentrate on any given recruit and this year would seem to be a fair question.

      On the one hand, the focus on top tier netted us McLaughlin who is a really good OL and in a position we desperately needed. On the other hand, the effort expended on Duncan and Cross, in hindsight, may have left behind a bunch of decent RB prospects.

      I do think we had a good chance with each of those last 5 and when you look at who they chose, you can understand why they picked who they picked and why it was a hard choice to do so.

      I don’t ever want our staff to become a bait and switch, promise the world, oversigning type of staff, even if it costs us. Coker is a good example. We wanted one QB and he was the one we wanted and got. He switches at the last minute. I am sure that Ruff and Riley told other QBs to find themselves a home because our coaches roll that way, not going to sign a 2nd guy or keep that guy in limbo. I respect that.
      I agree we have to walk the measured line and be sure to know where we go when it goes the other way though.
      Thanks for your insights Chris, I really look forward to hearing your thoughts on the program.

  2. I think we should go after the best. ECU (in all respects) needs to put the ‘red headed stepchild’ mentality behind us and go after and expect the best in all respects. If you don’t respect yourself, don’t expect others to respect you. Now it will all come down to coaching and execution. Remember, the teams that Skip won with were mostly (all?) two star recruits. A lot of these guys are 3 star. So, can this coach and our offensive and defensive schemes succeed? That is the real question in my mind.

    • Thanks for dropping Colonel.

      I think your last sentence does say it all. ECU – perhaps sans John Thompson – has always found a way to succeed with the 2-star guy. This staff deserves credit for the quality of the guys they are signing – if we all agree to start the conversation with the idea that the star-system is highly flawed but as a relative measure has some merit. With that, the assumption should be that we have over the past two seasons brought in better quality.

      I think our coaches have demonstrated that they have an eye for talent (e.g., Hardy, Harris, Hunt, Wiggins, Grove, Geary, Baker, Magz, etc.) so I trust the quality of the players. I am willing to give the staff a 1/2 mulligan with the injuries, but we have shown on both sides of the ball that we can play and have success, but have not shown consistency and have not had a lot of games where the O and D were in sync in regards to bringing their A games at the same time. The Special Teams disaster last season is one that got my attention in regards to wondering things about the staff.

      2012…is going to tell us all a lot about the program, IMO.

  3. I_Bleed_Purple

    I am very pleased with this requiting class. Ruff’s first two years were complicated …Year 1 was Skips kids and trying to implement Ruff’s program, seemed like a mad scramble to keep as many of Skip’s recruits as possbile…good year but more of a fluke, Year 2…Ruff’s surgery and recovery after a Jan. bowl game (had to impact recruiting some), OL injuries, first year of the 3-4, young young team. Here we are in year 3, Ruff has recovered and is a new man, long recruiting season, but it had to be difficult to sway the “big” recruits after last season. In today’s world where nearly half of college football teams make it to a bowl, how do you convince a 4 or 5 star recruit to come to Greenville after a no bowl season, getting shunned by the Big East, who knows what Confrence USA will be in the future, etc. I agree that we do not want anyone who does not want to be here… we have a GREAT coaching staff, year two of coach Conners strength program, and what I feel is the first REAL recruiting class for coach Ruff and his staff. It does not matter who our QB is if we dont have a line that can block, and if our offence always has to compete with a porous defence who gives up 21+ pts a game, thats tough. We focused on the critical areas and hit them hard, didn’t get everyone we wanted but got quality & quantity at the critical positions. This class is a GREAT foundation for the powerhouse football that ECU is being molded into. We may not be BCS busters this year but look at how long it took Texas Tech to elbow their way into the mix….we have the muscle of their staff then so its only a matter of time before ECU is there year in and year out!!! Go Pirates!!!

    • Great Post IB Purple! Thanks for dropping in and sharing. In your post, two thing really underscored this class, IMO. First, and anyone can argue how pragmatic a decision it was, but when Coach opted to make a rapid shift – offensively and defensively to some extent – in how strategy, we were forced to deal with the pain right away. The downside to this is that you stumble and it hurts but the good side is that you get through it sooner and you move forward. Now that we are emerging, the quality of his recruits, so far, appears to be pretty good. Second, I think that we shouldn’t forget the long view, which you have laid out here nicely. I agree with those out there who are marking down 2012 as a definitive year for this staff. The schedule is a manageable one by ECU standards and the defense should really keep us in it this year if the offense struggles with a new QB at the start.

      IF we can avoid injury lightening hitting us 3 straight years (can a program suffer as much as we did and win??), I think we could all be surprised at how things go. I am pulling for this staff, but am sort of jogging alongside the wagon for this season (but I am ready to jump right on it!!).

  4. JPG

    You left out Hunter Furr when addressing the RB position. Many think he has a serious chance to take Bullock’s top spot from him.

    • Nice catch…brain lapse on that one, because when I spoke to Riley…he is really, really excited to get Furr on the field.

      How did I miss that. I feel a little better about RB now.

      Oh yeah…thanks for dropping in JPG…any time…please.

  5. JPG

    Very good article by the way

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