ECU News, Notes and Commentary
Thursday, May 12, 2005
By Bethany Bradsher
Play-for-pay aspirations die
Bonesville.net welcomes Bethany Bradsher to its staff of
writers. Bradsher comes to Bonesville highly-recommended and
with a portfolio of relevant credentials, including previous
experience on the East Carolina beat for other news
organizations. This article is the first of what will be a
weekly column by Bradsher, in which she will help readers keep
tabs on the news and, on occasion, pen her opinions on topics of
interest. — Danny Whitford
Jason White’s story is an apt
reminder that success in college football doesn’t always translate into NFL
glory. And Paul Troth and some of his former East Carolina teammates hope to
prove that, on occasion, accomplished pros blossom out of less-than-stellar
White, the former Oklahoma
quarterback and 2003 Heisman Trophy winner, wasn’t selected in April’s NFL
draft despite being one of the most decorated athletes in Sooner history.
But his professional hopes were revived this week when he signed a two-year
contract with the Tennessee Titans.
The predraft knock on White
was that he was too small and slow to thrive as an NFL signal-caller. On the
other side of the coin is Troth, whose physical attributes could open up
post-college opportunities despite his marginal success at ECU and Liberty
Troth is 6-foot-5 and 233
“I didn’t have a very
productive year, but I still felt like I could impress scouts with my size,”
Troth, who threw for 2,315
yards and 15 touchdowns in 2002 as the Pirates’ starter, has signed with an
agent and recently returned from the Houston Texans’ rookie mini-camp. The
Texans declined to sign him, but he has set his sights on a June 4 combine
that is used primarily as a talent pool for the Arena Football League and
the Canadian Football League.
“I would love to play in the
Arena League,” he said.
After transferring to Liberty
when then-ECU coach John Thompson gave the starting job to Desmond Robinson
for the 2003 season, Troth opened the season at the top of the depth chart
but lost the Flames’ starting job after five games. But his confidence was
buoyed earlier this year when his agent arranged for him to work out in
Tampa with former Buccaneers quarterback Steve DeBerg, who gave Troth a good
recommendation to inquirers from the NFL.
Even though NFL rules
prohibited Troth from being an official part of the pro workout that was
held this winter on the ECU campus, he attended and showed his skills by
throwing balls to two of his former teammates who also hope to get a chance
at the next level — Art Brown and Marvin Townes.
Brown and Townes, who each
compiled 1,000-yard rushing seasons as Pirates but struggled during their
senior campaigns, also employed agents but were unhappy with some of the
decisions their agents made and are in the process of finding other
representation, Troth said.
If individual collegiate
performance is often unrelated to future success in the NFL, the same is
also true of the team as a whole. The 2003 ECU squad limped to the Pirates’
worst record in decades at 1-11, but four members of the Class of ’03 are
currently on active NFL rosters: Brian Rimpf in Baltimore, Damane Duckett
with the New York Giants, Terrance Copper in Dallas and Vonta Leach in Green
A rookie no more, Leach is
starting to feel comfortable in chilly Wisconsin: He was activated from the
Packers’ practice squad in late November and just finished the first team
mini-camp on May 1.
“I felt very comfortable,”
Leach said of the minicamp. “I’ve already been around the guys and the
coaches, and they know what I can do.”
Both Leach and Rimpf were
encouraged by the fact that the coaches didn’t send them on a European
vacation this winter. Generally, NFL coaches send players to the NFL Europe
as a way to further assess their potential contribution to the team.
George Kokinis, the Ravens’
director of pro personnel, told Rimpf that after the team activated him from
the practice squad in mid-December, they saw enough of his skills to
convince them to keep him close for the offseason.
“He told me, ‘You got to play
enough for us to see some things we like,” said Rimpf, an offensive lineman
who will participate in minicamp in early June.
Copper, a wide receiver for
the Cowboys, merited a mention from coach Bill Parcells after a recent
minicamp practice, when Parcells was asked about the team’s speed at wide
receiver. He cited Copper as one of the team’s fastest players at that
And Duckett, a defensive
tackle for the Giants, started for the first time and played the entire game
in New York’s season-ending game against Dallas, recording five tackles and
Former Pirate running back
Leonard Henry played for the hapless Miami Dolphins last season, but he is
looking for another team now after being released first by Miami, then by
the New York Jets after they invited him to work out with the team.
Wide receiver Richard Alston,
who made highlight films last season when he returned an opening kickoff for
a touchdown in his first game with the Cleveland Browns, is still on his
team’s roster, as are Devone Claybrooks in Dallas, Roderick Coleman in
Atlanta and Jeff Blake in Philadelphia.
The most recent ex-Pirate to
get his shot at the pros is kicker Kevin Miller, who went from caddying for
friend and PGA golfer Will Mackenzie to donning a Berlin Thunder jersey in
NFL Europe. The defending World Bowl champions are tied for first place in
the league, thanks in part to Miller's foot. ECU's all-time leading career
scorer has converted on 11 of 13 field goal attempts through the Thunder's
first six games.
Miller was allocated to the
development league by the Seattle Seahawks, who will give him a shot at
making the team this summer.
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