A Big Ten Conference-caliber talent became the first new prospect added to East Carolina’s football recruiting Class of 2019 by new head coach Mike Houston earlier this week.
Demetrius Mauney, an in-state prospect from East Rutherford High School in Forest City, was originally the 11th player to join the 2019 class of on-the-rise Big Ten member Purdue back in June. But feeling the distance between Forest City and the Purdue campus in West Lafayette, IN, would limit the opportunities for close family to watch him play, Mauney made the difficult decision to back off that pledge in August.
Houston and the Pirates became beneficiaries of Mauney’s desire to play closer to home last Sunday when the 5-foot-11, 190-pound running back-defensive back gave his verbal commitment during an official recruiting visit to Greenville.
“I think the weekend he went up there he fell in love with Purdue. He really liked it,” said Mauney’s coach at East Rutherford, Clint Bland. “But he lives with his grandparents, who are up in age, and once he got home he started thinking there was no way they’d ever see him play at Purdue. So he reconsidered because he wanted to be closer to home.”
Because Houston had already been recruiting Mauney for James Madison before securing the ECU job on December 3rd, Greenville became the perfect landing ground. Mauney left Spartanburg, SC, after playing for the North Carolina squad in the annual Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas all-star game and traveled to ECU for a face-to-face meeting with the new coaching staff before making his commitment. He signed a binding national letter of intent with the Pirates on Wednesday, the first day of college football’s early signing period.
The signing capped a stellar football career in Forest City that began even before Mauney reached East Rutherford High School. Bland remembers watching Mauney dominate play at the middle-school level before joining his varsity as a freshman in 2015.
“The middle school used to play their games here at the high school, so when we’d come off the practice field when they had a home game we’d watch the kids who would be with us in a couple of years,” Bland said. “We knew we were good to go when we saw this seventh-grade kid who was running the football and making all these plays on defense.
“He was just heads and shoulders above the rest of the competition. He was just a special kid. He never played one down of JV football for us. He went straight to the varsity team.”
Mauney became an immediate sensation for the Cavaliers as a freshman, especially on defense. He racked up 74 tackles, had 12 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks from a linebacker position, while also gaining 491 yards and scoring five touchdowns on 82 carries at running back.
Over the next three seasons, Mauney became East Rutherford’s main weapon on offense and defense. He racked up 3,956 yards and scored 49 touchdowns rushing over that span, including 1,375 yards and 16 scores as a senior on 152 carries. Defensively, Mauney produced 191 tackles and 31.5 tackles for loss.
Mauney played running back for North Carolina’s Shrine Bowl all-star squad, which tied South Carolina 10-10 last Saturday. But what position he’ll play at East Carolina has yet to be determined, according to Bland.
“I think they like him as a running back,” Bland said. “But the thing we’ve always said is he’s such a good athlete that he can play on either side of the ball. If they get him on campus and it doesn’t work out at one position, he can easily move to the other side of the ball.”
Mauney is a blend of power and speed as a running back.
“He can use his speed to outrun you or he can run over you,” Bland said. “He’s a little of both.”
Bland said Mauney will remain at East Rutherford through the spring semester before heading to East Carolina next summer.
If he plays running back, Mauney will join a competition next fall for playing time along with senior Hussein Howe, junior Darius Pinnix, sophomore Trace Christian and redshirt freshman Tay Williams.