The Pittsburgh, PA, metro isn’t an area East Carolina has tapped into often when it comes to football recruiting. But a family connection to ECU’s coaching staff helped the Pirates secure their latest verbal commitment from nearby Latrobe for the recruiting Class of 2019.
Offensive lineman Trent Holler from Greater Latrobe High School became the 21st player to make his pledge to ECU on September 22nd. Holler’s commitment came two days before the Pirates lost another offensive line prospect, Havelock’s Nishad Strother, who backed off a pledge he made to ECU in June.
“No we don’t,” was the response from Greater Latrobe coach and alum Jason Marucco when asked if he regularly sees ECU recruiting the area. “But I was coached here by Dan Mahoney, who is the brother of (ECU offensive line coach) Don Mahoney. Dan is working at Greensburg Central (Catholic High). One of the coaches on my staff is pretty tight with Dan. He told him (Dan Mahoney) about Trent, and East Carolina got on him right away. Now he’s going to be a Pirate.”
The Pirates first reached out to Holler about May, according to Marucco, and extended a scholarship offer in early June. The 6-foot-3, 290-pounder would eventually receive more than a dozen offers before narrowing the list to ECU, Pittsburgh and West Virginia in August.
Pittsburgh was pursing Holler as a defensive tackle, while the Pirates and Mountaineers wanted him as an offensive lineman.
“He got his offer from Pitt doing defensive line stuff at their camp,” Marucco said. “He does a good job coming off the edge for us. He’s going to miss rushing the passer, but I think he’s pretty sold on being a center.”
While vacationing with his family at North Carolina’s Outer Banks in June, Holler made his only unofficial visit to ECU. He took time from there to ponder his options before finally settling on joining the Pirates.
“I wasn’t surprised,” Marucco said. “I knew the relationship he had with them through the recruiting process. When he went down there a couple of weeks ago he fell in love with the place, the coaches and the facilities they are building. Academically, it was a good fit for him because they have the business school he was looking for.”
Holler has been a starter on offense and defense at Greater Latrobe since his freshman season at both center and defensive end. He’s three times been named to the All-Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League 5A 2 Conference team on defense, including as a junior when he made 40 tackles, seven tackles for loss and five sacks.
Marruco has watched Holler’s development since the seventh grade and believes his best position is center.
“As a seventh grader, he started on the eighth grade team,” Marruco said. “When he played on our freshman team as an eighth grader. One of the things that always stood out about him is he had great size and is athletic. He played basketball and baseball until his freshman and year, and still plays basketball for us.
“I think the number-one thing all the college coaches have liked about him is his ability to snap the football. Sometimes when they recruit players for center out of high school they’ve never even snapped the ball. But with Trent they’ve been able to see hundreds of plays of him snapping and moving. To see him snap the ball, pull around our guard and tackle, kick out a linebacker, and he’s still going downfield to pancake a safety, is something that jumps out on film.”
Holler is putting together a solid senior season, although Greater Latrobe is just 1-5 at this stage.
“He’s been the most consistent player we’ve got,” Marruco said. “He’s really taken over a couple of ballgames. We’ve played the No. 2 and No. 3 ranked teams in the state in the last three weeks and he was noticeably the best lineman on the field in both of those games.”
The 247Sports.com recruiting analysts have Holler tabbed as the nation’s No. 11 center prospect in the 2018 class. He joins tackle prospect Jeff Woods from Fayetteville’s Trinity Christian School as offensive linemen in ECU’s 2019 class.
The defection by Strother came as a surprise, especially since he attends Havelock High about an hour from Greenville that has produced numerous former Pirates. He announced the decision via a Twitter post in which he thanked ECU and offensive line coach Mahoney for being the first to believe in his ability. Since receiving his first scholarship offer from the Pirates he has also been offered by Charlotte.