The chance to join the college football program that has produced the two top pass-catching receivers in Football Bowl Subdivision history was too good to pass up for Andre Pegues.
A big-play receiver from Hoke County High School in Raeford, Pegues decided on June 7 to follow in the footsteps of ECU greats Justin Hardy (387 career catches) and Zay Jones (399) by making a verbal commitment to play for the Pirates in 2018. The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder was the sixth player overall and the second explosive offensive prospect to join the recruiting class along with D.H. Conley quarterback Holton Ahlers.
Pegues had an array of offers from the likes of Appalachian State, Elon, Furman, Liberty and Princeton, but after attending a one-day camp at ECU in early June that also included Ahlers he decided commit.
“It motivated me to play at a place where players can break those kind of records,” Pegues said. “They love football there. There’s a lot of energy around the program and the coaching staff is great. And they have experience coaching big-time players who go to the league.”
The son of a U.S. Army staff sergeant stationed at Fort Bragg, Pegues has lived in the Hoke County town of Raeford most of his life. Following a similar path as his father, who played football and basketball at Winston-Salem State University, Pegues also played both sports but his main focus was basketball until he reached the 10th grade.
That’s when Pegues saw his first significant playing time for the Hoke County varsity football squad. As a sophomore, he spent time at quarterback (10 for 23 passing for 73 yards/46 rushes for 188 yards and two touchdowns) and wide receiver (11 catches for 224 yards and three scores).
“When I got called up to the varsity my 10th grade year I really didn’t feel like I was ready,” Pegues said. “But my teammates and coaches encouraged me. After the season, I realized I could do well for myself playing football.”
Playing under a new head coach last season – former ECU offensive lineman David Jorgenson (a 2002-03 letterwinner) – Pegues enjoyed a breakout year at receiver. He amassed more than 900 yards receiving and scored 10 touchdowns to earn first-team honors in the tough Southeastern 4-A Conference.
Jorgenson said Pegues reminds him of former ECU teammate Terrance Copper, who never missed a game in his Pirate career and finished with 139 career catches. Copper went on to play nine seasons in the NFL.
“When I first got to East Carolina, Terrance Copper was there,” Jorgenson said. “Andre’s ball skills and competitive nature remind me of Terrance.
“He (Pegues) is definitely a big-play guy. In our first game last year, we threw him a slant across the middle. He caught it and was hit immediately. But he spun off the defender, avoided another tackler and took off for the score. It was a great effort play on his part.
“Another play that comes to mind occurred when we were playing Seventy-First. We were backed up in our own end zone and needed a big play. Our quarterback just dropped back and heaves one up. Somehow, he (Pegues) comes down with it for a 91-yard touchdown.”
The 91-yard touchdown capped one of the biggest games of the season for Pegues, who finished with three catches for 129 yard and two touchdowns against the Falcons. He followed that by producing five catches for 135 yards and two more scores the next week against South View. Included in that performance was a 54-yard touchdown catch.
“I had that long catch against Seventy-First that helped boost our team and get some momentum,” said Pegues, who has been timed at 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash. “In the South View game, our starting quarterback, another wide receiver and one of our running backs got hurt early in the first quarter. I felt like I had to put the team on my back and get points on the board to keep everybody calm.”
Pegues is the first wide receiver to join ECU’s recruiting Class of 2018. He’s expected to play an outside spot, according to Jorgenson.
“Based on what they (ECU) have told me, he’ll play an outside spot,” Jorgenson said. “They like to throw the ball around a lot, and I think Andre will fit in seamlessly with what they like to do.”
“I feel like I have a lot to learn still,” Pegues said. “But if I’m needed early (at ECU) I feel like I could produce and help the team.”