Michael Short was born in a football town and into a football family, so it was only natural for him to be drawn to East Carolina University.
Short, a linebacker from Mallard Creek High School in Charlotte, became one of three players to help start ECU’s football recruiting Class of 2023 by making a verbal commitment to the Pirates last weekend. The 6-foot-3, 220-pounder made his pledge while on campus for an official visit last Saturday.
Making a commitment to ECU wasn’t on the agenda when Short arrived for his visit. After all, he had a lengthy list of other scholarship offers to consider, ranging from other Football Bowl Subdivision programs such as Appalachian State, Liberty, Memphis and Rice, as well as Dartmouth, Princeton and Yale from the prestigious Ivy League.
But after spending time with the Pirate players and coaches, especially head coach Mike Houston, Short was sold on East Carolina.
“I just felt genuine connections with the coaches and players,” he said Monday. “The head coach was really honest with me, and you could tell family is important to him. I wasn’t planning to commit before I got there. But I enjoyed myself so much. I really love the atmosphere in Greenville. It’s a football town. Everybody loves football there and loves the team.”
East Carolina has recruited Short to play an outside linebacker or edge position, which is where he played as a sophomore at Mallard Creek. Moving to middle linebacker as a junior, Short earned first-team 3-A/4-A West Conference 60 honors after making 93 tackles and 21 tackles for loss.
Some at Mallard Creek have compared Short to former Maverick and current Clemson standout Trenton Simpson. Simpson was a senior at Mallard Creek when Short was playing as a freshman on the school’s junior varsity squad.
“A lot of people at my school have compared me to him,” Short said. “We may have some similarities. I’m pretty long and can cover a lot of ground and a lot of space. I’m a great tackler. I play physical, I play hard and with a lot of effort.”
Short’s football career began in his birthplace, Columbus, Ohio, which is home to Ohio State University. His father, Courtney Short, played linebacker at Kent State University and had entered the high school coaching ranks as an assistant at Mifflin High in Columbus.
While playing pickup football in the neighborhood about age 7, Short caught the attention of an area recreation coach, who begged his mother to allow him and his older brother to play for the Georgia Heights Packers.
“She was kind of hesitant, but I think she wanted to get us out of the house,” Short said. “I was always an active and big kid growing up. So, it was a natural thing for me. I played defensive end and linebacker.”
The Shorts eventually tired of the Ohio winters, so when his mother got a new job opportunity in Raleigh the family moved South.
While in Raleigh, Short joined the North Raleigh/Wake Forest Bulldogs, a Pop Warner program that at the time also featured wide receiver Wesley Grimes (Wake Forest signee), defensive end Beau Atkinson (UNC signee), quarterback Lex Thomas (N.C. State commit) and current four-star wide receiver prospect Noah Rogers.
The squad twice advanced to the junior varsity finals of the Pop Warner Super Bowl at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports.
The family moved to Charlotte as Michael Short entered the ninth grade. Both he and his older brother, Elijah, joined the football program at Mallard Creek. The brothers played together on the varsity for one season when Michael was sophomore in the COVID-19 shortened 2020 season.
Now, Michael has his focus on the 2022 season at Mallard Creek and his future as an East Carolina Pirate.
“I can’t wait to get back there (ECU),” he said. “I’m planning to be at the opener against N.C. State. I need only two credits to graduate from high school, but I haven’t decided yet if I’ll graduate early. But I’m excited about the future at ECU.”