Even before he officially became a high school student, Nehemiah “Nemo” Squire was impacting the football program at powerhouse Dillon High School in Dillon, SC.
Squire was so gifted as a running back that he played for the Wildcats’ junior varsity team as an eighth grader while still attending the city’s middle school.
“He was very mature at a young age, very focused and goal oriented,” said first-year Dillon head coach Kelvin Roller. “He’s wanted to be a college football player for a long time and he’s put the work in to achieve that.”
As a four-year varsity starter who has amassed nearly 4,000 career rushing yards, Squire has made that dream come true by garnering major college scholarship offers from programs such as Air Force, Army, Eastern Michigan, Georgia State and Western Kentucky. But the 5-foot-9, 195-pounder decided on August 26 that East Carolina was the best place to launch his college career.
Squire gave his verbal commitment to the Pirates following a courtship spearheaded by ECU running backs coach Chris Foster and defensive line coach Roy Tesh. He had impressed the ECU coaching staff during an unofficial visit to campus in June before receiving a scholarship offer on August 1.
“He (Squire) knew ECU is a great program and they put out a lot of players,” Roller said. “Traditionally, a lot of Power Five schools don’t want to contend with East Carolina too much. Those guys did a great job recruiting, plus Greenville, North Carolina, is a great place to go to school. Nemo has been there several times and East Carolina just kind of sells itself.”
Squire also had the benefit of hearing from a person with first-hand knowledge about East Carolina’s football program. Dillon’s offensive line coach is former East Carolina offensive lineman Norman Quick. Quick is a well-respected high school coach who had worked at some of North Carolina’s top prep programs such as Shelby Crest, Richmond and Scotland before joining Roller at Dillon.
As a Pirate, Quick played under coach Ed Emory in the early 1980s. He became a starter at right guard as a redshirt freshman in 1981 and in 1983 was part of an offensive line that helped future ECU Hall of Famer Ernest Byner racked up 852 rushing yards. A football independent at the time, the Pirates finished with an 8-3 record and came within a touchdown of upsetting both top-10 ranked Florida and Miami that season.
“Norman still attends all the games up there,” Roller said. “He was probably a good resource for Nemo.”
Squire made his varsity debut at Dillon as a freshman in 2018, logging 14 carries for 78 yards and scoring once in the season opener against Lumberton, NC. Two games later he enjoyed the breakout game of his career against Lake View, rushing seven times for 120 yards and three touchdowns.
He would finish his rookie campaign with 151 carries for 1,053 yards and 14 touchdowns for a team that posted a 12-1 record. The Wildcats’ only loss occurred in the state AAA title game against Chester with Squire contributing 61 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries.
Dillon reached the AAA state finals again in 2019 with Squire contributing 851 yards and 15 touchdowns rushing on 161 carries. The effort earned him All-AAA Region 7 honors.
The COVID-19 shortened 2020 campaign saw Squire produce his highest rushing totals yet. He piled up 1,550 yards and 21 scores to repeat as an all-region selection, while also adding ABC-TV 15 All-Zone honors.
As of the filing of this article last week, the Wildcats were off to a 5-0 start this season with Squire contributing 472 yards and 14 touchdowns.
“He’s made so many big plays for us this season,” Roller said. “He and our quarterback made a big play on fourth down in a close conference game that probably decided the game. On a fourth-and-goal from about the 5 we threw a wheel route to him and he caught it in the corner of the end zone.
“Last year he had a run where he burst through the middle and hurdled the safety to put the ball in the end zone in a playoff game. He also made a back-shoulder catch on a wheel route to keep a drive going in the lower state championship game his sophomore year. So he’s been in some big games for us and come through.”
Roller, who took over for legendary Dillon coach Jackie Hayes this season, calls Squire “a complete player.”
“He’s put in an awful lot of work on his own time to be a good player and to get his body conditioned to take the pounding at the running back position,” Roller said. “He works on his other skills too that he needs — pass protection skills, route running, his hands — he’s a complete running back and a complete player for us.
“I’ll be honest with you. He’d probably be our best defensive player if he played defense for us. He’s very capable of doing that.”
Now that they’ve secured a verbal commitment from Squire, the ECU coaching staff has started to work on the Wildcats’ sophomore offensive lineman Josiah Thompson. The 6-7, 293-pounder received a scholarship offer from the Pirates last week to go along with those from South Carolina, Kentucky and N.C. State.