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View from the 'ville
Thursday, July 8, 2010

By Al Myatt

Golden days of summer

By Al Myatt
All rights reserved.

The region was subjected to some record temperatures on Wednesday. The golden days of summer are indeed upon us. For East Carolina football players, the Golden days of summer have a different connotation.

This is the time of year when Mike Golden, director of strength and conditioning, and the Pirate players work together to prepare for the physical demands of the 12, 13 or 14 games that will comprise the upcoming season.

"We're in our final push before preseason camp," said Golden, who is in his sixth year at ECU. "We have about three weeks left."

Golden said the NCAA requires a week break between summer conditioning workouts and the start of preseason practice. Participation has been excellent this summer, both in terms of numbers and effort.

"Our kids understand what it takes," Golden said. "They know to get done what they've got to get done, they need to be here."

Golden came to ECU from South Carolina with former Pirates football coach Skip Holtz. Since Holtz left for South Florida and Ruffin McNeill returned to his alma mater, the focus of Golden's summer sessions has changed slightly.

"The guys are doing a lot more running," Golden said. "Because of the amount of plays they want to run on offense, they're really going to have to be able to run. About halfway through this spring, I think our guys understood exactly what we needed to do and we've just kind of gone from there.

"We're running a lot more with a lot faster times. We're running every day but we've added quite a bit to it in terms of repetitions. We're really getting after it. It's a lot more running."

Linemen run just as much as skill position players.

"The only running (skill position players) do that's more is when they go out and do their own pass skeleton drills on their own," Golden said. "They run their routes and do whatever they do. We're not out there at that time.

"From our end, the skill position guys don't do more. The linemen still have to play 100 plays, like the wide receivers and running backs and all that. That's just how that deal is."

The players run distances ranging from five to 200 yards.

"We have one day a week that's a little bit longer stuff," Golden said. "Another day is about mid-level stuff, like 60s and 40s. We have the other day that we do the real short runs. We do a ton of the short runs."

The Pirates are running four days a week in addition to strength training on those days. On the fifth day, the players can focus on areas where they need individual improvement.

"We kind of just work on a bunch of different things with all the players — anything that they might want to work on or some extra stuff that they might need," Golden said. "If any guys need extra conditioning, we bring them in one day a week and kind of work on all those weaknesses, too, which is something we've never done before."

Golden said it's been a fun summer because of the players' attitude and effort.

"We're just trying to get them ready for the heat and the rigors of camp and what they're going to have to do," Golden said.

Strong man competition

Nine teams of 10 players each were in the strong man competition in mid-June.

"It was the most competitive one we've ever had," Golden said. "The players know what to expect. The playing field has gotten more and more level over time. The players are getting better. They're all getting a little bit closer and a little bit stronger. It was very competitive."

Offensive lineman D.J. Scott was captain of the winning team which included tight end Michael Byrd, defensive back Emanuel Davis, linebacker Jeremy Grove, linebacker Ty Holmes, wide receiver Darryl Freeney, fullback Ben Herlocker, wide receiver Torrance Hunt, offensive lineman Jordan Davis and Will Smith (not sure if that's deep snapper William Smith or offensive lineman Willie Smith).

"We break the teams up," Golden said. "There's got to be an even amount of linemen, an even amount of mid-guys and an even amount of skill guys."

Events included a 100-yard sled push (the sled weighs about 200 pounds), a 2x400 relay, a log press (an overhead lift), a 300-pound sled drag with a harness, a grueling combination event called Blackbeard's Challenge and a weight stack in which a group of heavy items have to be carried to a container.

"It was a neck and neck thing the whole way through," Golden said. "D.J. did a nice job of having the right guys in the right events. That's how he won it. He did a great job coaching. We don't coach at all on that day. We take the captains who are usually seniors and they've got to put their guys in the right situations."

Gamecocks finish strong

South Carolina's run to the NCAA baseball championship in the last College World Series to be played as Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha had significance for the Pirates.

ECU topped the Gamecocks in the regional final in Greenville in 2009 and took two of three games from Coach Ray Tanner's club early in the 2010 season.

"It shows how close we are," said Pirates baseball coach Billy Godwin. "We've just got to get our kids to see that, believe it and stay hungry. You've got to be good enough to get in the tournament and hopefully host. You've got to be lucky enough to play well at the right time, which South Carolina did."

Godwin, who was in Asheboro Wednesday night to see ECU pitchers Joseph Hughes and Jake Harris in a Coastal Plain League game, was recruiting during much of the CWS.

"I saw the last game and I saw the last innings on other nights when I was coming in from recruiting," Godwin said, referring to the College World Series. "I turned the TV on, wherever I was at, and watched the last part of the games. I thought they played extremely well down the stretch.

"You have to play well at the right time."

Pitching coach to be named

In addition to recruiting, Godwin has been involved in finding a pitching coach since the season ended. He interviewed nine candidates face to face and four were brought on campus. Godwin is confident that he's made a good selection and expects to announce his choice today.

Godwin anticipates that the November signing class will be heavy on pitchers. Although incoming freshman right-hander Austin Chrismon of Newport News, VA, and Pirates ace Seth Maness have until August 16 to sign pro contracts, Godwin feels both will play for the Pirates in 2011. Chrismon was taken in the 32nd round by the Houston Astros and Maness was a 41st round selection by the Florida Marlins in the June draft.

Outfielder Devin Harris, the hero of the regional win over South Carolina last season, signed with the San Francisco Giants after being chosen in the 48th round and will not be back for his senior season at ECU.

Godwin also said he expects Jack Reinheimer, an infielder from Charlotte and a 31st round draft choice of the Atlanta Braves, to join the Pirates program rather than sign a pro contract.

Hoops scheduling

East Carolina's basketball schedule has not been completed but a game at Clemson will be among the non-conference highlights, according to new Pirates coach Jeff Lebo.

Already announced was ECU's invitation to the Charleston (SC) Classic, Nov. 18-21. The the field will include Charlotte, George Mason, Georgetown, N.C. State, Wofford and two additional teams to be determined.

Charlotte, Old Dominion, Campbell and UNC-Greensboro are scheduled to play in Greenville. The Pirates will go to Coastal Carolina.

One wonders if Lebo, a former North Carolina player, might be able to schedule the Tar Heels in the future.

"I don't know," he said. "Both places I've been before, Coach (Roy) Williams has been kind enough to agree to play. When I was at Chattanooga, he was going to play us when he was at Kansas. Obviously, he left to go to North Carolina so that fizzled out.

"He was going to open our arena at Auburn (next season)."

When Lebo left Auburn, that arrangement fell through.

"We'll try (to schedule North Carolina)," Lebo said. "I haven't approached him with that yet."

Basketball recruiting

July will be a busy month for Lebo and the basketball staff.

"We're ready to head out to recruit here," he said. "Most of July is a recruiting period so we travel a lot.

"We're going to AAU tournaments, camps, different things like that. Twenty of the days in July is a recruiting period. It's an evaluation period for us. That's an important time for us to get a chance to see the kids, so we'll be all over the place — Augusta to Myrtle Beach to Las Vegas to Orlando to Cincinnati. We'll be all over the place to watch the kids play."

Lebo expects to have four scholarships for next year's signing class as Brock Young, Jamar Abrams, Jontae Sherrod and Chad Wynn are scheduled to complete their eligibility in 2010-11.

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Al Myatt Archives

08/06/2010 01:56 AM


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