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View from the East
Friday, July 19, 2002

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

Future Pirates hang out together in Greensboro


The West edged the East 24-22 in the annual high school all-star football game in Greensboro on Wednesday night, an event that may be remembered as much for its halftime as the game itself.

The stadium lights were turned off for a fireworks show but then game administrators couldn’t get the lights turned back on. As a result, halftime lasted about an hour.

At least East Carolina’s seven signees in the contest won’t be in the dark about some of their future teammates when they report to campus next month. The East-West game for ECU’s incoming players wasn’t so much a destination as the start of a journey. The all-star game marked the end of their high school careers but it was also a jump start on their preparation for preseason practice at ECU and the beginning of their relationship as teammates.

“You get to build a special bond before you even get to ECU,” said ECU signee Jared Brogden, a defensive back from Apex. “It’s definitely a good thing, a good start. You get to know them pretty well before you get to ECU. When you get to ECU, it makes it a little bit easier.”

Freshmen will report to campus on Aug. 4. Other preseason dates include Aug. 7 when returning players come in. Workouts in shorts will run Aug. 9 through 11 with three-a-day practices in pads scheduled for Aug. 12-20. Classes start Aug. 21.

Classes were originally scheduled to begin Aug. 20 and the change resulted in some adjustments for the football program. The Pirates open at Duke on Aug. 31 at 6 p.m.

ECU had the most signees in the 54th annual event which is sponsored by the N.C. Coaches Association. N.C. State had three while Duke and Wake Forest had one each. North Carolina, which signed 13 in-state players — as did ECU — was not represented. The Tar Heels have shown a preference for getting their incoming players on campus for summer school and conditioning in Chapel Hill.

Pirates coach Steve Logan and staff actually encourage their incoming players to take part in the East-West game.

“They wanted to make sure I was 100 percent before I came in because I had (right) shoulder surgery in February but other than that they were like, ‘Go for it, have fun.’ ” Brogden said.

Brogden introduced ECU signee Shauntae Hunt, a defensive lineman from Warren County, to several of his future teammates.

“It gives us a chance to know each other before we go up there (to ECU),” Hunt said of the all-star experience. “I think it’s good because it gets us loose. We haven’t played football in a long time. Practice gets us in some kind of shape before we get up there to East Carolina.”

Hunt, who turned 18 on the July 17 — the date of the game at Jamieson Stadium on the campus of Greensboro Grimsley High, said he would be a Prop 48 but he had already gotten some college hours in criminal justice at a community college. Hunt said Pirates assistant coach Terry Tilghman had encouraged other incoming players to look Hunt up in Greensboro.

Several of the incoming players have already been on campus to work out in the new strength and conditioning center.

“We did a lot of running,” said Will Bland, a quarterback at Havelock whose speed would allow him to possibly play a number of different places for the Pirates. “(The center) has got everything you need.”

Jamaal Dickens, a wide receiver from Wilson Beddingfield who will join the ECU program as a walk-on, has already bought into the concept of the importance of downfield blocking by the receivers to the running game.

“They’re cool,” Dickens said of the ECU contingent. “I think it’s going to be a real pleasure playing with them next year.”

East head coach Randy Ledford of South View said that center Caleb King of Havelock is planning to walk on at ECU as a long snapper. King’s prep teammate, Bland, said the all-star game was allowing him to learn the capabilities of his teammates.

“That’s a good thing because after this we’re going to be rooming together at ECU and practicing together," said Bland. "It’s good to get to know everybody that’s going to East Carolina.”

Although ECU-bound wide receiver Kevin Roach is coming out of a 1-A program at Williamston, he said he didn’t feel overwhelmed by the talent level at the East-West game.

“It’s better competition,” he said. “Bigger and faster guys but I just told myself I would have to come out here and step up my game a little bit. It’s not really been a problem.”

Roach said the ECU players got to know each other in Greensboro, which should help their adjustment in Greenville.

“We’ve been able to get together and talk about coming in and playing together as freshmen,” he said. “We’ve gotten to know each other a little bit better so it won’t be like such a shock when we first get there in August. ... It’s a little bit of a practice for when we report.”

Roach looks a lot like former Pirates receiver Larry Shannon when he lines up.

Linebacker Lorenza Pickett, a Pirates signee from Fayetteville Byrd, was the leading tackler for the East with eight stops, including four solo tackles.

“He’s real intense and real intelligent about what he’s doing,” Ledford said of Pickett. “He catches on to things very quickly.”

Pickett stopped N.C. State signee T.A. McLendon for a loss on the West’s first play from scrimmage to set the defensive tone for the East. Pickett’s prep teammate and future Pirate, defensive lineman Dontre Brown, was in on three tackles. Hunt made one solo tackle and one assist.

ECU had one signee on the West, wide receiver Iverick Harris of Burlington Cummings, who snared a 6-yard touchdown pass on a slant-in from the left in the third quarter that helped his team to a 21-20 lead.

ECU players often impact the outcome of the contest. Dashaun Stephens of South Columbus scored the winning touchdown and was MVP in 2001. In 1997, West defensive end Ty Hunt stripped the ball from East quarterback David Garrard deep in West territory to halt a late East drive and preserve a 21-15 West win.

The East-West game is a crossroads. For selected Pirates players it amounts to the unofficial start of their college careers.

“Most of them are going to college so they know in a week or two they’re really going to be doing it,” Ledford said. “It’s going to be a job, not just play.”

East-West boys basketball

ECU was represented by 6-foot-8 forward Corey Rouse of Kinston in the East-West boys basketball game on Tuesday night. Rouse had 13 points and 10 rebounds in a 115-89 East loss as Pirates coach Bill Herrion watched from courtside.

With Jason Herring out next year to rehab from knee surgery, Rouse may have to contribute to frontcourt depth initially but that’s not the role Herrion envisions for Rouse, currently listed at 195 pounds.

“Obviously, he’s got to get stronger physically,” Herrion said of Rouse. “I think what (his role will be) at East Carolina is more of a perimeter player, more so than a post guy. Where he’s got to improve is his physical strength.”

East-West girls basketball

Stefanie Warner of Pikeville Aycock, a 6-foot-1 perimeter player, scored a game-high 15 points for the East and had seven steals en route to earning MVP honors in her team's 64-47 victory over the West at Greensboro Coliseum on Tuesday night.

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02/23/2007 12:58:36 AM

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