Eric Doctor wasn’t well acquainted with East Carolina football on May 1 when the Pirates extended a scholarship offer to the linebacker-safety from Edgewater High in Orlando, FL.
“Their coaches had come around during our spring (practice),” Doctor said. “I didn’t know much about them other than seeing them on TV a couple of times playing against the Florida schools, like UCF. Once they started talking to me I began to do some research on their program.”
While Doctor studied about ECU, other schools such as Campbell, Coastal Carolina, Colorado State, Florida International, Illinois, Indiana, Jacksonville State, Kent State, Louisville, Marshall, Mercer, South Dakota, Tennesssee-Martin, Troy, Tulane, UAB and Vanderbilt joined in the pursuit of the 6-foot-1, 210-pounder. He had already lined up visits to Florida International, Illinois and Tulane for the fall.
But on a fact-finding mission to Greenville for an official visit June 14, Doctor found all the information he needed about ECU.
“I was able to get around the coaches and players, and they made me feel so welcome,” Doctor said. “I got a great vibe that this was a place to make strong bonds for four years of college. I went riding around Greenville with some of the players. I loved how the city … is really into the football team.
“My host was the middle linebacker, Xavier Smith. He told me coming to ECU was a great decision for him and his family. That meant something to me because it’s what I was looking for.”
Three days later, Doctor joined East Carolina’s June recruiting spree by making a verbal commitment to the Pirates.
Doctor is following in the footsteps of his father, Eric Doctor Sr., who played collegiate football at NCAA Division II Benedict College in South Carolina. The younger Doctor played both basketball and football until about the eighth grade when football became his primary focus.
He would make the varsity squad at Orlando’s Evans High School as a freshman and was a starter at both running back and safety as a sophomore. It was during his sophomore season that college scouts began to take notice of Doctor.
“That’s when I started thinking, ‘I’ve got a shot at this,’’’ Doctor said. “So I put my head down and focused on my books off the field and putting in the work on the field.’’
Doctor left Evans after his sophomore season to join the program at Edgewater, where his status as a prospect grew dramatically. He made 50 tackles and an interception, which he returned for a touchdown, in helping the Eagles to a 12-2 overall record and berth in the Class 7A state semifinals.
Although he played safety for most of his prep career, Doctor said the Pirates have recruited him to play the outside or “WILL’’ linebacker position.
“I would say my strength is tackling,’’ Doctor said. “But I can also have man-to-man or zone coverage skills. I can take on blocks and make tackles. I cover ground very quickly. I also have great hands, so if the ball is thrown in my area and I get my hands on it, nine times out of 10 I’m going to take it back for six.’’
Doctor has displayed a knack for making big plays during his high school career. As an example, he recalled a play he made last season in Edgewater’s 56-14 route of Boone.
“It’s the first play on my highlight video,’’ Doctor said. “Their fullback got the ball and bounced outside. I read the play, diagnosed it and hit him, forcing a fumble. My teammate scooped it up for a touchdown.’’
Doctor hopes to be making those kind of plays early and often at East Carolina.
“In talking to the coaches up there, I really have a shot of coming there and playing four years,’’ he said. “I want to make a direct and early impact on their defense.’’