Chip Williams coached many
major-college players during a successful 15-year tenure as head coach
at New Bern High School, but none ran with the football any better than
Hardesty starred for the
Bears in 2003 and 2004, piling up 3,989 yards and 38 touchdowns before
signing to play collegiately for perennial national power Tennessee.
He’s expected to compete for playing time as a junior this season with
the school’s seventh-leading rusher, Arian Foster.
Williams believes he has a
back with skills similar to Hardesty’s at his new coaching assignment,
Scotland County High School in Laurinburg.
“He’s very reminiscent of
the Hardesty kid,’’ said Williams earlier this week about Scotland’s
senior running back, Damonte Terry.
Terry became the latest
product of the Fighting Scots program to make East Carolina their
college choice on July 3. His verbal commitment comes on the heels of
ECU’s signing of Scotland wide receiver Adrian Jones in February.
A 6-foot, 189-pounder,
Terry is about the same size as the 6-foot, 196-pound Hardesty, and both
players run about the same time in the 40-yard dash (4.4 to 4.5 range).
Both players also began their varsity careers as defensive players –
Hardesty at safety and Terry at linebacker – before becoming their high
school’s premier back.
“Hardesty may be a little
faster at 100 meters, but they’re about the same in the 40,’’ Williams
said. “Hardesty started out playing in the secondary as a safety, and I
think personally, he’s an NFL safety and a good college running back.
“But he’s (Terry) got
great speed, and he’s a load to tackle. And the third thing about him is
he’s got a great work ethic. Anytime you come into a new situation,
there’s always some doubt about how players will adjust to a new system.
But he’s accepted it and worked extremely hard. Any success he has is
East Carolina became the
first and only major school to offer Terry a scholarship in April. But
he was still receiving heavy interest from schools such as Clemson,
Illinois, Maryland, N.C. State, North Carolina and South Carolina.
Williams believes that
early interest by the Pirates influenced Terry’s decision.
“I think the off-the-bat
commitment they made was important to him,’’ Williams said. “He was also
very impressed with the success they’ve had recruiting in-state. They
have a great program and it’s just getting better.’’
Williams should know. He’s
a former Pirate himself, toiling as an offensive lineman in the late
1960's. And Williams’ new coaching staff at Scotland features another
ex-ECU offensive lineman, Norman Quick.
But despite those close
ties to the East Carolina program, Williams and Quick didn’t attempt to
influence Terry’s decision.
“I definitely have ties,’’
Williams said. “I went there, my wife went there, my two sons went
there, and their wives went there. I have two granddaughters, and the
oldest is already a ‘Go Pirates!’ fan.
“But with players, I like
to see them have success with any in-state program. I try not to get too
involved. If they have questions, I’ll answer them. But the bottom line
is it’s their decision, the athlete and his parents.’’
Terry’s decision will
bring to Greenville only the second player since 1992 to have started as
a true freshman for the Fighting Scots. Ex-Scotland quarterback Russ
Adams is the only other member of that club. Adams is now a professional
baseball player in the Toronto Blue Jays organization.
Terry began his Scotland
career at linebacker, then played there and at tailback as a sophomore
in 2006. He split time that season at tailback with Jones in ’06,
gaining about 500 yards.
Full-time duty at tailback
helped Terry improve his rushing total to 1,221 yards and 15 touchdowns
last season for an 11-3 squad. He achieved those totals despite playing
on an injured right knee for most of the year.
The knee wasn’t apparently
giving Terry any problems in April when he ran scorching times of 4.32
and 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash at a Shrine Bowl All-Star combine.
Williams thinks, with a
little improvement, Terry can become a quality college runner.
“I think he’s got a lot of
potential, but he needs to develop a little more,’’ Williams said. “He
is a downhill type runner, and a lot of colleges aren’t interested in
that. They want a zone-type of runner. Right now that’s not his forte,
but he’s improving on that.
“The other thing is he
needs to be able to stretch the field by catching passes. Those are two
areas, if he improves on them, I don’t know if you’ll find any better
Terry is the seventh
player to join ECU's recruiting Class of 2009.