College football’s second and traditional signing day on February 7th marked the end of an offseason overhaul on defense for East Carolina.
Head coach Scottie Montgomery first revamped the defensive staff, hiring former Pirate David Blackwell in December to be the coordinator before adding Daric Riley (safeties) and Tab Rodrique (defensive line) in January.
Montgomery provided an immediate influx of new talent for the new coaches by committing 14 scholarships to defensive prospects in the 20-player class, 19 of whom signed during the early period in December. The late addition, defensive end Dorian Hardy, brought more star power and attention to what has the potential to be a game-changing class for ECU’s defense.
And change is certainly in order.
The Pirates were among the worst defensive units in the Football Bowl Subdivision in 2017, ranking dead last among 129 teams in total defense (surrendered 541.7 yards per game) and scoring defense (45.0).
So let’s take a close look at how each of those players may impact the program with our annual position-by-position grades for the defensive recruits. We’ll speculate on how each player fits into the ECU program, provide the best organizational profile that we can and look ahead to what the Pirates may need as they begin pursuing the recruiting Class of 2019.
DEFENSIVE END A+
WHAT THEY NEEDED: The Pirates lose three seniors off the ’17 defensive front, all of whom started games. Three others are scheduled to finish their eligibility after the ’18 campaign. Those factors made signing two or three ends a good number to pursue.
WHO SIGNED: Coming aboard during the December signing period were underrated in-state end prospects, Trey Love from Southeast Guilford High and D’Angelo McKinnie of Southwest Onslow.
Love (6-3, 246) earned All-Mid-Piedmont 3-A Conference honors as a senior when he made 38 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and six sacks. He was the third player to join the ECU recruiting class, choosing the Pirates over an offer from Charlotte in April 2017.
The 6-4, 235-pound McKinnie was a first-team all-area selection as a senior by the Jacksonville Daily News. He recorded 81 tackles, 21 tackles for loss and eight sacks for a Southwest squad that went unbeaten in the Coastal 1-A/2-A Conference and finished 11-4 overall. No other schools had offered a scholarship to McKinnie when he committed to the Pirates in June 2014.
Hardy, from Elizabeth, N.J., wound up in the ECU class in a roundabout way. He originally chose Penn State as his college destination in June 2017 over offers from FBS heavyweights such as Alabama, Clemson, Florida, LSU, Michigan and Ohio State. But in October an off-the-field incident resulted in Hardy losing his offer from the Nittany Lions and sent him back to square one in the recruiting process.
Many of the schools that had pursued Hardy previously had filled their needs with other players by then, leaving the 6-5, 220-pounder available for ECU. He made an official visit to Baylor before settling on the Pirates on the Feb. 7th signing day.
HOW ECU HELPED ITSELF: Hardy is an athlete with great length and surprising strength for his slender frame. He’s not overwhelming as a pass rusher, but manages to disrupt offenses by getting to the point of the attack. That makes him tough against the run and pass.
Love is a finesse guy, who is explosive off the ball and might leave a blocker swinging and missing after executing a swim move. He has the strongest technique of the trio and a motor that never stops.
But it’s McKinnie that I find the most intriguing of the trio. He is the classic late bloomer, who made little impact in his first two seasons of varsity football at James Kenan High. He transferred to Southwest Onslow as a junior and went from a timid 215-pounder to a 240-pound beast. Though his skills are still raw, he has the whole package to become a college star and beyond. McKinnie is athletic, strong, is an intense competitor and a fast learner. He is a true diamond in the rough.
BIG ONE THAT GOT AWAY: The Pirates met their end quota early in the cycle, then landed Hardy almost as a bonus. So they didn’t really lose anyone that was under serious consideration.
WHO’S BACK: A trio of players who figured prominently on the depth chart at end last season are scheduled to return. Junior Kendall Futrell (6-2, 230) took the field for nine games and started four, including the season finale. Futrell missed some action due to a bacterial infection, but managed to make 13 tackles, three tackles for loss and a sack last season. Making one start each at end last season were sophomore Chandon Hickerson (nine games) and senior Shaun James (12). Both finished the ’17 season at No. 2 on the depth chart at the end positions. Hickerson (6-3, 231) made 15 tackles and James (6-4, 274) 12 in their mostly reserve roles.
Junior Jalen Price and sophomore Raequan Purvis also started two games at end each a year ago, but saw most of their action at defensive tackle.
Rounding out the end contingent are senior Brandon Henderson (6-5, 275), who appeared in one game last season, sophomore Chance Purvis (6-4, 226) and redshirt freshman Ja’Quane Nelson (6-3, 231).
WHO’S GONE: The most productive player at the end position has departed in Kiante Anderson, who contributed 35 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks in nine starts even though he missed significant time with a knee injury. Also gone are Minnesota grad transfer Gaelin Elmore (14 tackles in 11 games, 4 starts) and Randall Anderson. Anderson was injured in the season opener and didn’t play again.
Outside of Kiante Anderson, the biggest loss at end was a player who hadn’t even seen the field yet for ECU. Tajh Alston, one of the top prospects in the recruiting Class of 2017, announced in early January his decision to transfer. Alston had been praised in preseason camp by then-defensive coordinator Robert Prunty, but wound up redshirting. He’ll be transferring to a junior college in hopes of re-starting his recruitment.
NEEDS FOR 2019: Two more ends complete their eligibility after the ’18 campaign, so that’s six players lost counting those mentioned above. Signing two or three ends to plug those gaps is imperative.
The Pirates are already in the hunt for replacements, having extended offers to at least six defensive end prospects in the Class of 2019. One of those is 6-5, 220-pound Jorell Baum from Northeastern High School in Elizabeth City. Baum made 90 tackles and six sacks as a junior as the Eagles went 13-1 and reached the state 2-A championship game. ECU and Tennessee offered Baum in January, but he’s expected to attract a lot more attention through the spring and summer camp season.
PROJECTED DEFENSIVE END DEPTH CHART
Kendall Futrell, Jr.
Chandon Hickerson, Soph.
Chance Purvis, Soph.
Ja’Quane Nelson, RFresh.
Dorian Hardy, Fresh.
Shaun James, Sr.
Brandon Henderson, Sr.
D’Angelo McKinnie, Fresh.
Trey Love, Fresh.
DEFENSIVE TACKLE C+
WHAT THEY NEEDED: Spending more time in a four-man front last season raised the need for defensive tackles at ECU. Signing at least two seemed necessary to bolster the depth in those areas.
WHO SIGNED: South Iredell High School’s Chandler Medeiros (6-3, 252) was a four-year varsity player who became a starter his final two seasons. He produced 62 tackles, eight tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks as a junior, then followed up with 55 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks as a senior. The latter totals earned him first-team All-North Piedmont 3-A Conference honors and a spot on the North Carolina squad for the prestigious Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas all-star game. Charlotte, Elon and Old Dominion were Medeiros’ other offers before he committed to the Pirates on June 16, 2017.
HOW ECU HELPED ITSELF: Medeiros is a relentless worker who never takes a play or a workout off. He’s already powerful (370-pound bench press) and has the frame to get bigger with time. The Pirates really got a steal here, but needed a matching set of tackles to improve the position grade.
BIG ONE THAT GOT AWAY: An underrated prospect from the Palmetto State, 6-3, 305-pound Kelijiha Brown from Saluda was offered by ECU in May 2017. Brown made the trip to Greenville for an unofficial visit in September, but after departing seemed to focus his recruitment on South Carolina and Wake Forest. He eventually signed with the Demon Deacons. Brown was one of more than a dozen defensive tackle prospects the Pirates offered during the cycle.
WHO’S BACK: The Pirates do have experienced depth at the tackle spots with four players returning who made starts last season. Junior Jalen Price (6-2, 299) leads the unit after making seven starts at tackle a year ago. Price also spent some time at end on the way to making 27 tackles. Junior Alex Turner (10 games, 6 starts) and sophomore Raequan Purvis (12-5) also saw significant action along with senior Tyree Owens (10-3). Senior Bennett Boateng also played in two games last season.
Owens, a 6-4, 285-pounder, is a major talent who collected 30 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks in his Pirate debut after transferring from junior college. But he was suspended for the final two games of the season for violating athletic department academic policy. Owens has completed his responsibilities in that area and will be ready to go for spring practice. If he lives up to his potential, Owens could be an all-star candidate for ECU in 2018.
WHO’S GONE: The Pirates lost two players who played in a combined 66 games and started 20 during their college careers. Demage Bailey logged 17 of those starts, including five last season, while Mike Myers was a valued reserve who played in seven games during the 2017 season.
NEEDS FOR 2019: With three defensive tackles set to leave the program after the 2018 season, targeting their replacements will be a high priority for the Pirates. Signing three would be a lofty goal, considering the competition for quality defensive tackles is so intense these days.
ECU is already putting the full-court press on a tackle prospect in its own neighborhood. Members of the coaching staff, including Montgomery, were regular visitors at Farmville Central High School during the January contact period to check in on 6-2, 330-pound Keziah Everett. Although Everett played in just eight games as a junior due to injury, he still managed to make 79 tackles, 18 tackles for loss and four sacks to earn a spot on the Greenville Reflector’s All-Pitt County first team. Everett has already picked up offers from the Pirates, Appalachian State, Duke, South Carolina and Virginia.
PROJECTED DEFENSIVE TACKLE DEPTH CHART
Jalen Price, Jr.
Alex Turner, Jr.
Bennett Boateng, Sr.
Tyree Owens, Sr.
Raequan Purvis, Soph.
Chandler Medeiros, Fresh.
WHAT THEY NEEDED: Two or three is a standard number when it comes to recruiting linebackers. With three leaving the program after the 2017 season and two more on tap to depart after ’18, that was precisely what the Pirates needed.
WHO SIGNED: Xavier Smith (6-0, 237) was the defensive player of the year as a senior in the competitive Group 5-A region of Virginia for Brooke Point High School. Smith entertained offers from Charlotte, Coastal Carolina, Connecticut, James Madison, Marshall and Temple before pledging to the Pirates in August 2017. He enrolled at ECU in January and will participate in spring practice.
Also competing in Virginia Group 5-A for Nansemond River High was Gerard Stringer (6-2, 188). Stringer racked up 107 tackles and two interceptions as a senior when he was named co-defensive player of the year with N.C. State signee Derrick Eason. Army, Navy and Ohio were other schools pursuing Stringer.
The Pirates picked up one of North Carolina’s most versatile players in Jireh Wilson from Northside High in Jacksonville. Wilson (6-3, 190) was a big-time offensive threat at receiver where he caught 40 passes for 649 yards and 11 touchdowns as a senior. He also returned punts (196 yards) and kickoffs (58 yards). But it was on defense that Wilson was chosen as a defensive back to represent North Carolina in the annual Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas all-star game.
HOW ECU HELPED ITSELF: The Pirates signed a well-rounded trio of linebackers. Smith is a classic middle linebacker, who plays big and physical, but also is athletic enough to dunk a basketball and run hurdles in track.
Stringer is the outside complement to Smith. His speed allows him to get to the point of attack quickly against the run, but when it’s a passing play he’s capable of dropping back into coverage. Big plays seem to come naturally for Stringer, who could be a candidate for early playing time on special teams.
Although his linebacker skills are raw, Wilson’s potential may be the highest of the trio. He’s fast (4.6 speed in the 40-yard dash), bright (4.25 grade point average) and has an intense desire to win, which probably results from his upbringing in a military family. He’ll need a redshirt year before he’s ready to contribute at ECU. But in time he could be a great one.
BIG ONE THAT GOT AWAY: The Pirates already had an inside connection to Conway, SC, linebacker Jaylen Moody after receiving a commitment from his twin brother, receiver Juwon Moody, in June 2017. ECU was the first school to offer the 6-2, 225-pound Jaylen in September and appeared to be in good shape to land him until December. That’s when the flood gates suddenly opened and schools such as Arkansas, Clemson, Mississippi and Kentucky came calling. Still, ECU remained on Moody’s radar into January when Alabama emerged as a player. The lure of playing for the Crimson Tide proved too great as Moody signed with Nick Saban’s club on Feb. 7th.
WHO’S BACK: Even though second-leading tackler Jordan Williams is gone, the Pirates remain fairly well stocked at linebacker. They return a budding star in sophomore Aaron Ramseur (6-1, 213) along with two others with starting experience in seniors Cameron Gibbs (6-2, 230) and Ray Tillman (6-1, 207).
Ramseur entered the starting lineup at midseason and made quite an impression with 57 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and two interceptions. He wound up making six starts, including the final three at the WILL position. Ramseur’s big-play abilities make him an excellent cornerstone to build a solid defense around.
Gibbs also had some solid moments in his rookie season at ECU after transferring in from the junior college ranks. He appeared in 12 games at both the MIKE and WILL spots, starting six games. Gibbs finished with 50 tackles and an interception.
A big bonus for the Pirates will be the return of Tillman, a battle-tested linebacker with 31 games of college experience under his belt. He started the first two games of the 2017 season at the WILL spot before an injury took him down for the year. Because Tillman was playing as a senior last year, ECU has formerly requested at medical hardship for him from the NCAA that would allow him to play in 2018. Tillman will participate in spring practice with the Pirates while it waits for a decision from the NCAA, which is expected this spring or summer.
Two other linebackers who saw action last season are sophomore Bruce Bivens (6-0, 220) and junior Tony Baird (6-3, 232). Bivens recorded 10 tackles in 11 games and finished the season No. 3 on the depth chart at WILL. Most of Baird’s action in six games came on special teams.
WHO’S GONE: Jordan Williams was one of ECU’s top tacklers for three straight seasons. He closed out his career with 252 tackles in 45 games (25 starts). Joe Carter, a special teams performer who could have returned for 2018, decided to forego his final year of eligibility. Also departing is Xavier Smith – not the incoming freshman – who played in eight games and made tackles last season. Reserves Devin Carlos (12 games) and Anthony Gutierrez (4 games) also completed their eligibility.
NEEDS FOR 2019: Based on graduation losses alone the Pirates should be seeking at least two linebackers in the Class of 2019. But three would help beef up the corps from a depth perspective.
PROJECTED LINEBACKER DEPTH CHART
Aaron Ramseur, Soph.
Bruce Bivens, Soph.
Xavier Smith, Fresh.
Cannon Gibbs, Sr.
Ray Tillman, Sr.
Tony Baird, Jr.
Gerard Stringer, Fresh.
Jireh Wilson, Fresh.
WHAT THEY NEEDED: The Pirates needed at least three after losing four senior safeties off the 2016 team.
WHO SIGNED: Two very talented athletes will join the ECU safety brigade, but one has limited experience at the position and another is coming off an injury that curtailed his senior prep season.
Myles Berry (6-1, 190), from Greensboro powerhouse Dudley High, helped the Panthers claim the state 4-A title as a junior. As a senior, Berry made 33 tackles and an interception in the first five games before being lost for the year. Air Force, Appalachian State, Army and Navy were other FBS programs pursuing Berry.
Jaren Rainey spent most of his high school career playing quarterback at Southwest Guilford High near Greensboro. But the 6-2, 190-pounder got to see limited action at safety as a senior, then also played the position for North Carolina’s team in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas all-star game. Army was the only other team to offer Rainey.
HOW ECU HELPED ITSELF: Berry and Rainey are both gifted athletes and enrolled at ECU in January, so they’ll have the benefit of going through spring practice with the Pirates. Berry, if healthy, could be an asset next fall in a reserve role or on special teams. He’s the type of defender who can turn a game around with a single play.
Rainey needs time to develop at safety. But as the son of a football coach, we expect he’ll make the transition rapidly. Like Berry, he has the potential to make big plays in the secondary.
BIG ONE THAT GOT AWAY: ECU offered a ton of safeties, but probably the best chance the Pirates had at landing any of those was with Wake Forest’s Javon Terry. Terry received one of his first offers from ECU after taking an unofficial visit to campus in September 2016. But he committed on the spot to North Carolina after receiving an offer from the Tar Heels during their summer camp in June 2017.
WHO’S BACK: Five different players made starts at the safety positions for ECU last season, but nobody returning started more than twice at the free or strong spots. Sophomore Davondre Robinson (6-0, 190) came on late to make starts at free safety (one) and strong safety (two) in the six games which he played. Robinson was impressive in that short stint, coming up with 33 tackles. Junior Devon Sutton (5-11, 198) finished the year by holding down the strong safety spot for the final two games, but made the most of his 10 starts (8) and the nickel position.
The third returnee is junior Tim Irvin (5-9, 192) for whom the Pirates had high expectations after his transfer from Auburn. But injuries and a two-game academic suspension limited his playing time to six games and four starts – two at nickel and two at free safety. He has been cleared academically and will join ECU for spring practice.
Redshirt freshman Delvontae “Tez” Harris (6-0, 185) is a versatile defender who can play the run or pass, and should be ready to contribute at safety next fall.
WHO’S GONE: ECU’s leading tackler in 2017 was senior free safety Korrin Wiggins, who made 96 hits after joining the Pirates as a graduate transfer from Clemson. Wiggins departs along with free safety Bobby Fulp, the team’s No. 6 tackler with 45. Fulp made eight starts at strong safety and one at free safety. Special teams standout Austin Teague (22 tackles in 12 games) also leaves the safety group.
NEEDS FOR 2019: The Pirates need to improve the talent and depth at safety, so they have made double-digit offers to prospects at those positions. Signing at least three will be a big step forward.
ECU is locked in already on 6-1, 175-pound Anthony Harris from nearby Havelock. But they’ll have to pry him away from the likes of Clemson, N.C. State, UNC, Oklahoma and Virginia Tech, all of whom have offered.
PROJECTED FREE SAFETY DEPTH CHART
Davondre Robinson, Soph.
Tim Irvin, Jr.
Jaren Rainey, Fresh.
PROJECTED STRONG SAFETY DEPTH CHART
Devon Sutton, Jr.
Delvontae Harris, RFresh.
Kenyon Taylor, Soph.
Myles Berry, Fresh.
WHAT THEY NEEDED: The shift to the 4-2-5 alignment increased the need for athletes who can play in pass coverage, but also have the instincts of a linebacker against the run. In this case, that’s the nickel back where ECU started three different players during the course of the 2017 season. None of those are scheduled to graduate after the ’18 campaign, so signing one was enough.
WHO SIGNED: Khalil Barrett (5-11, 200) was an offensive star at Havelock High School where he rushed for 1,105 yards and 17 touchdowns on a mere 96 carries as a senior. Barrett also registered 1,050 yards receiving and 13 more scores on 84 catches. The performance earned him Coastal 3-A Conference Player of the Year honors. First committed to Coastal Carolina, Barrett backed off that pledge when ECU came calling with an offer in December. He signed with the Pirates on Dec. 20.
HOW ECU HELPED ITSELF: Barrett is a versatile, fast (4.4 40-yard dash time), athletic player who felt like he was overlooked in the recruiting process, so he’s going to work hard to prove people wrong about his abilities. Physically, he’s not far from being ready to contribute and could even help on special teams as a true freshman. But giving him a redshirt year to adjust to being a full-time defensive back would be beneficial all around.
BIG ONE THAT GOT AWAY: Like Barrett, Nadir Thompson was an all-around performer just down the road from Greenville at Southern Nash High School. The Pirates extended him an offer just after signing day in Feb. 2017, even though he was already verbally committed to N.C. State. When he attended ECU’s Junior Day in April, then decommitted from the Wolfpack three weeks later, there was optimism he might turn toward the Pirates. But Thompson cast his lot with Virginia Tech in June and signed with the Hokies in December.
WHO’S BACK: Junior Devon Sutton logged the most starts (8) at the nickel position last season and was ECU’s third-leading tackler with 68. But Sutton seems headed back to strong safety. Junior Tim Irvin started the first two games at nickel and senior Corey Seargent handled the last two. Seargent should be a starter at cornerback next fall, which leaves Irvin the most likely to settle in at nickel.
WHO’S GONE: Trevian Hicks finished the 2017 season second on the depth chart at nickel. Hicks made three tackles in nine games with most of his playing time occurring on special teams.
NEEDS FOR 2019: New coordinator Blackwell will use multiple formations on defense, but is expected to keep the 4-2-5 as his base. So the need for always adding at last one potential nickel or Pirate defender is going to be a standard goal.
Alex Angus (6-0, 180) from Greensboro Page High School fits the nickel profile perfectly. He plays strong against the run, hence his 58 tackles and three tackles for loss in 2017, and he’s a defender against the pass (six interceptions). ECU has already offered Angus along with Appalachian State, Charlotte and Old Dominion.
PROJECTED NICKEL DEPTH CHART
Tim Irvin, Jr.
Devon Sutton, Jr.
Khalil Barrett, Fresh.
WHAT THEY NEEDED: Three was the original goal to replace two departing cornerbacks and to build some depth in that area.
WHO SIGNED: The Pirates exceeded needs and expectations in this area by signing four – two high school grads to groom and two junior college players for immediate help.
Damel Hickman (6-0, 166) was twice an All-Southwestern 4-A Conference pick at Matthews High outside of Charlotte. He enjoyed a big senior season when he made 45 tackles, two sacks, five interceptions and broke up 10 passes against some of the best competition in the Charlotte metro.
A thumb injury curtailed Nolan Johnson’s production as a senior at Southwest Guilford High. But the 6-2, 190-pounder still made 19 tackles and broke up 10 passes as a third-year varsity starter.
Warren Saba (5-10, 170) and Michael Witherspoon (6-1, 195) were two of the best cornerbacks in the junior college ranks last season. Saba played just one season at Garden City Community College with big results. He made 71 tackles, three tackles for loss, had five interceptions and broke up an amazing 22 passes. ECU won the recruiting battles for Saba over Buffalo and Southern Miss. Witherspoon was a two-year starter for Hutchinson Community College where he had 42 tackles, a tackle for loss, 10 pass breakups and a blocked punt as a sophomore. The Pirates beat out Boise State for Witherspoon.
HOW ECU HELPED ITSELF: Saba and Witherspoon have already enrolled at ECU and will compete for immediate playing time at cornerback. They both excel at man-to-man coverage. Saba is a guy who makes momentum-changing plays on defense and as a kick returner. Witherspoon is the big, physical corner needed to combat the tall receivers every team seems to have these days.
Hickman is extremely agile and is stellar in man coverage. But he’s going to have to add some strength and weight before he’s ready to hit the field at Dowdy-Ficklen. Johnson has an excellent football IQ and instincts, plus he’s more mature physically than Hickman at this stage.
BIG ONE THAT GOT AWAY: More offers went out to cornerbacks than any other position in the Class of 2018. One of those who committed to ECU originally was Austin Richardson, a 6-0, 180-pounder from Porter Ridge High School. Richardson joined the ECU class in late June 2017, but couldn’t quite meet the school’s academic requirements. So the two parted ways.
WHO’S GONE: Chris Love started five games at cornerback last season and played in 12 games overall. He made 30 tackles and an interception working mainly at the boundary position. Travis Phillips started one game and played in 12, seeing action primarily on special teams and at the field corner.
WHO’S BACK: Senior Corey Seargent (6-0, 168) was limited due to injuries last season, but still managed to make five starts and play in seven games. Seargent, who made 19 tackles and broke up two passes, is a big-play specialist when healthy. He moved around between the boundary and field corner spots, and started the final two games of the year at nickel. But he should be back at the field corner to start 2018.
Junior Colby Gore (5-11, 172) ended last season at No. 1 on the depth chart at the boundary corner. He started the final nine games there and recorded 37 tackles along the way. With Seargent manning the nickel position for the final two games of 2017, sophomore Keyshawn Canady took over for the final three games at the field corner. Canady played in eight games overall and made 12 tackles.
Junior college transfer Michael Holton (6-0, 165) also made his ECU debut by appearing in eight games and starting three at the field corner.
NEEDS FOR 2019: Seargent and Holton are on track to complete their eligibility in 2018 and finding replacements should be a fairly high priority for ECU.
The Pirates seem to be tracking a lot of corners again with Rocky Mount’s Shyheim Battle (6-2, 173) at the top of the list. Battle has named N.C. State as his early leader, but ECU and Duke are still in the race with several others.
Another in-state corner, Isaiah Kemp (6-2, 175) from Hoggard High in Wilmington is also on ECU’s radar. Kemp has offers from Duke, ECU, Old Dominion and Wake Forest.
PROJECTED CORNERBACK DEPTH CHART
Colby Gore, Soph.
Michael Holton, Sr.
Warren Saba, Soph.
Damel Hickman, Fresh.
Corey Seargent, Sr.
Keyshawn Canady, Soph.
Michael Witherspoon, Jr.
Nolan Johnson, Fresh.
OVERALL DEFENSIVE GRADE B+
Montgomery and his staff have put together a defensive class strong in talent and depth, and featuring four to five players who could make an impact in 2018. The Pirates helped themselves tremendously on the defensive front and at cornerback. Hopefully, the new talent and a changes in the coaching staff will begin a new era of solid defense at East Carolina.
OVERALL OFFENSIVE GRADE C+
(View Our Offensive Recruiting Evaluation)
OVERALL CLASS GRADE B-
ECU’s class is rated near the bottom of the American Athletic Conference, according to 247Sports.com and Rivals.com. But we think it’s a little better than that, especially on the defensive side. By signing just 20, Montgomey still has room to do some more maneuvering between now and the end of the signing period April 1st.