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View from the East
Monday, July 11, 2011

By Al Myatt

McNeill stays on course with weight loss program


McNeill stays on course with weight loss program
Updated Football Recruiting Thumbnails
Stallworth brings pedigree, power to ECU O-line
Rice, ECU, USM Claim Spots in Final Rankings
ECU should ignore Appalachian
Football impacts the diamond
Holland coaching tree branches out
Connors makes way for movie
Q&A with Brian Mitchell
Q&A with Lincoln Riley
One-on-One with...
(ECU Media Relations Photos)

Bonesville features writer Ron Cherubini conducted Q&A exchanges with East Carolina offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley (left) and Pirate defensive boss Brian Mitchell (right). The net result: candid glimpses into the thinking inside the program heading into next season. Links to the interviews:

Lincoln Riley Q&A
Brian Mitchell Q&A

By Al Myatt
All rights reserved.

East Carolina football coach Ruffin McNeill is not the man he used to be. He continues to shed pounds following weight loss surgery and a hip replacement. He's dedicated to his doctor's orders and is following their directives regarding diet and exercise.

"It's going well," said the Pirates coach. "I'm walking twice a day. I'm getting physical therapy two times a week. It went from three to two. I'm trying to walk about an hour and 20 minutes a day. The diet is what the diet is. It's going along fine. Everything is right on course."

McNeill said he hasn't looked at his weight lately but he said he's lighter than what he was at the spring game and he had lost almost 100 pounds at that point in mid-April.

"I don't even worry about that (his weight)," he said. "I just go. I'll look at that when I go back for my check-up. ... I'm enthusiastic about my diet. I'm enthusiastic about the whole deal. I'm enthusiastic about the workouts. I'm enthusiastic about it all, A to Z. ... I'm fired up about all of it.

"Everything is on schedule. I follow my doctor's orders to the letter. Whatever they tell me I'm allowed to do, that's what I do."

McNeill said he gets to eat five meals a day.

"Everything is programmed now," he said. "I'm so stubborn and robotic that I think it's a positive. I'm going to follow whatever those doctors tell me to do to the letter."

Ruff has to apply discipline

McNeill loves his players but sometimes it has to be tough love. The Pirates coach suspended defensive back Emanuel Davis and receiver Michael Bowman for the season opener against South Carolina on Sept. 3 in Charlotte after the duo was arrested in June on charges relating to alcohol consumption.

"From day one, I've stated how I feel about East Carolina," McNeill said. "It's an honor and a privilege for everybody in this program to represent East Carolina. It's not lip service for me. I understand what East Carolina means.

"I love all of our kids but I love the team and East Carolina more. ... I hold our team to a high standard. It's not one way for one person and another way for another person. We're going to gather information whenever an incident happens. We'll take a decisive, disciplined and consistent approach and we keep moving on. Those young men have accepted responsibility. They're in the midst of doing all those things. I love 'em and I'll welcome them back once everything is done."

McNeill said Davis and Bowman are still involved in summer conditioning sessions with strength coach Jeff Connors.

"Everybody on the team has been addressed about discipline," McNeill said. "I've addressed discipline 38 different, formal times from day one since I got the job. I keep count of it. Everybody understands on this football team what I stand for and represent. Either I mean it or I don't. I love all the kids from day one. Everybody had a clean slate from day one.

"Here's what I said — no ego, no entitlement, teamwork first. I don't say that for lip service. ... One reason I've been in this business for 32 years is that I believe I have the opportunity to make a difference in a young man's life. I'm responsible for 120 and their families. One thing I can do is to do my best and raise them as my sons. That's how I think of these kids. ... I raise 120 sons. I love all of them individually and as a group. I love the team first because I believe in teamwork first.

"There are certain things that are non-negotiable. That's what I mentioned. I'm going to gather information. I'm going to hear all parties, both sides and I'm going to sit down and be consistent in my discipline. Everybody understands where I come from on the football team. ... The foundation of the football program is one of the most important things you can build. I want the foundation to be strong. I want the foundation to be solid. I want the foundation to be real. It all boils down to the pillars and philosophies of what I want this program to be about and be known for."

"It's how I was raised and how I was raised in coaching," added McNeill. "It's nothing personal with me. It's never personal about this kid or that kid. Everything to me is no ego, no entitlement, teamwork first and it's about building a foundation and I love those kids. I saw them (Davis and Bowman on Wednesday) and gave both of them hugs. They were both laughing and joking. There's no anger. ... It's no different than if a guy goes down with an injury. The next guy has got to be ready to go. ... We can't wait to have Michael and Emanuel back after they serve their time.

"They understood what I had to do. Their coaches understood what I had to do. ... I didn't look at the South Carolina game as a factor. I look at our team first. ... I don't make an off-the-cuff decision on any kind of discipline problem."

Coaches recharge the batteries

The ECU coaches are in the midst of a span in which they can spend time with their families and relax before the demands of preseason practice and the ensuing 2011 schedule begins.

The Pirate players will get about a week off after summer conditioning before reporting back for meetings on August 4. There will be five days of acclimation in helmets and shorts when practice begins on August 5. There will be several days of two practices a day. Two weeks before the season opener will be "mock week," a simulated game week before the actual game week in preparation for the opener.

"It's just to get them in that game week mode," McNeill said. "It will be almost a duplication the next week getting them ready to go to Charlotte and play South Carolina. ... I'm excited about being around our players again."

McNeill planned to spend some time in the interim with his dad, a former coach, in his hometown of Lumberton.

"That will be like a coaching clinic for me," McNeill said.

Working on academics

McNeill noted that several signees are not involved in summer workouts at this point because they must complete academic obligations.

"Most of our guys are up here and they're under Coach Connors' watch," McNeill said. "Jeton Beavers (defensive end, Bayside High, Virginia Beach) is finishing a high school class up. Hopefully, he'll be here pretty quickly.

"John Lattimore (defensive end, Ventura, CA, College) and JoJo Blanks (linebacker, ASA College, Brooklyn, NY; Purnell Swett High School, Pembroke, NC) are still finishing some classes to get eligible.

"The expectation is that they will be here. It's about like we had to do with (receiver) Lance Lewis last year. They've got some work to do on their own. We stay in touch with them and make sure they're staying on course. They have to come through on their own — finishing the assignments and finishing the classes also.

"We're looking forward to having both those young men as a part of the team. They're both really good football players and they would add to our defensive football team."

E-mail Al Myatt

Al Myatt Archives

07/11/2011 02:32 AM


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