TAKE ON PIRATE SPORTS
July 26, 2011
McNeill primed for preseason
Bonesville features writer Ron Cherubini
conducted Q&A exchanges with East Carolina
offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley (left) and
Pirate defensive boss Brian Mitchell (right).
The net result: candid
glimpses into the thinking inside the
program heading into next season.
Links to the interviews:
Lincoln Riley Q&A
Brian Mitchell Q&A
All rights reserved.
I continue to be amazed at
just how good East Carolina football coach Ruffin McNeill looks after
his weight loss and hip surgeries during the offseason.
It has been a total
transformation, and the coach deserves a lot of credit for working so
Now his attention turns to
“This is the part you
really look forward to,” said McNeill. “You go all summer, you watch
film and you plan. We have all of our practices planned up until game
The Pirate squad arrives
for camp a week from this Thursday. The team kicks off the 2011 season
in Charlotte against South Carolina on Labor Day weekend.
Most of the squad has been
working out all summer under the guidance of strength and conditioning
coach Jeff Connors. Some, though, are still in a waiting game.
“John Lattimore has to
finish a class,” said McNeill. “JoJo
Blanks has to finish a class. They may be like Lance
(Lewis) who came in late last year.”
McNeill confirmed that
both Chevelle Buie from Cocoa High School in Florida and Dontrill Hyman
from James Kenan in our state will start their careers in junior
“Those guys are football
players that we’ll keep an eye on,” said McNeill. “I think they’ll do
well and hopefully we’ll get them back in the program.”
One look at the 2011
schedule and you realize just how difficult the task at hand is for
McNeill in his second season.
The year starts at Bank of
America Stadium against a South Carolina team that was picked first in
the SEC’s East Division. The Gamecocks got the nod over the likes of
Florida, Georgia and Tennessee.
“I’m anxious about the
challenge,” said McNeill. “They have a great, great football team. Coach
(Steve) Spurrier is one of the best football coaches probably in the
history of the game.”
The Gamecocks are led by
running back Marcus Lattimore and receiver Alshon Jeffery. Lattimore and
Jeffery are probably licking their chops after watching film of the
Pirate defense from a year ago.
That defense is expected
to be improved, but that improvement certainly won’t be in full force
that first weekend in September.
McNeill says the South
Carolina skill players are great, but he was even more impressed on the
“They have great skills on
both sides of the ball,” he said. “What I’ve noticed on film is that
they have great offensive and defensive line play.”
The final piece of the
“preseason puzzle” comes this Saturday with the annual women’s clinic
for Pirate football.
You can tell by the grin
on his face that Coach McNeill really enjoys that particular day of the
“I can’t wait to get a
hold of them,” McNeill laughed. “It’s 300 plus again. That’s an exciting
day. It’s really our last bit before we get into the season.”
Coach McNeill says he gets
a lot of feedback on the banquet circuit about the clinic.
“The ladies come up and
tell me how excited they are,” he said. “I tell them that I love them
but that I’m going to get after them.”
While he enjoys the
women’s clinic, the second year ECU coach can’t wait to get his boys
back for practice.
“I’m anxious to see how
they have improved from spring,” said McNeill. “To see how they’ve come
through summer workouts with Jeff (Connors) and his staff, and then to
I think we are all looking
forward to seeing that.
It won’t be long now…
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07/26/2011 03:01 AM