Signing Day Special
Notebook No. 49
Thursday, February 7, 2002
By Denny O'Brien
Staff Writer and Columnist
Signing Day a Clear Reflection of Progress
GREENVILLE — National Signing Day isn't what it used to be for Steve
Logan. Instead of trekking miles to area high schools gathering signatures
from future Pirates, East Carolina's ten-year head coach lounges in his
cushy office chair while the fax machine does the work.
Long gone are the days of bloodshot eyes, when Logan was often forced to
conduct last-minute magic tricks to woo reluctant recruits into coming to
Greenville. With a rock-solid football program in place and facilities
booming, the ECU staff now plucks its share of talent up and down the east
coast, instead of waiting for players passed over by other schools.
"Ten years ago, you'd stay up all night long in a Marriot hotel chasing
some kid down at the very last minute, and you had to be at his house on
signing day," Logan said. "Then, you'd go home and have a nervous breakdown
for three days because you didn't get any sleep for a week."
On Wednesday, Logan appeared well-rested. In fact, he never seemed
"Look at that horse," Logan said chuckling at his office television set.
"Let me tell you, a horse is one of the dumbest animals on this planet...
They sure are strong, though. I should know, because I used to have one.
Back in Oklahoma, everybody did."
Yes, these are the good ole days in Greenville, and the future of ECU
football continues to look bright. Nowadays the ECU staff rarely misfires on
its recruiting targets, and this year is certainly no exception.
Things weren't like that when Logan first arrived in Greenville as an
assistant to then-head coach Bill Lewis. That's something the Oklahoma
native remembers all too well.
"Christmas of '88 was my first experience recruiting at East Carolina,"
Logan said. "I spent an extraordinary number of minutes explaining to people
that we were in fact Division I.
"With the exposure we get on television now, the winning seasons, bowl
games, things that have become relatively taken for granted around here now,
we can go from Miami to New York, walk in a home, and a kid knows who we
are. The North Carolina coaches and players receive us now, whereas that was
not the case (back then)."
Much of that is due to the commitment Logan made to recruiting in-state
kids when he became head coach back in '92. Prior to accepting the vacant
post, the East Carolina roster was flooded with out-of-state players,
lacking a North Carolina flavor.
In particular, an eastern North Carolina contingent was absent, and Logan
was on a mission to change that. He did so with his very first class. And he
hasn't let up since.
"If it's Eastern North Carolina, we find reasons to bring them here
rather than reasons to not bring them," Logan said. "If it's an Eastern
North Carolina kid, we're just going to look, and look, and look for ways to
fit a guy like that in the program. Even if we don't 'need that particular
position', if he's a local kid, we're going to try to work him into the
Logan says his commitment to recruiting in-state kids, coupled with the
program's stability, has enabled his staff to develop strong relationships
with area high school coaches. That's an often overlooked portion of the
recruiting process, one in which Logan takes great satisfaction.
Logan also values the importance of nurturing those relationships over
the years, as he plans to strengthen his program by continuing to lure
"It's real gratifying the reception we get from the coaches here in this
state, and the local coaches in particular," he said. "They now want to see
their kids play here.
"They know that they can jump in the car and come up here and watch the
kids play. That's a trust relationship that has cultivated over a 13-year
period now. We're real careful to keep cultivating that."
Evidence of that lies just a few miles down the road, in the fertile
recruiting hotbed of tiny Williamston.
As far as talent pools go, Williamston, NC, is miniscule in comparison to
the blue-chip havens found in South Florida and the Texas Panhandle. But the
small Eastern North Carolina town is big enough to produce its fair share of
Division-I talent, drawing recruiters far and wide.
So it should come as no surprise that Logan has found a recruiting
sanctuary northeast of Greenville.
"Williamston is a football town," he said." "It is a culture, much like
this university has a football culture. It's very important to that
community that they have a winning football team.
"What that does, is almost every kid in that community plays football, so
they've got an extraordinary number of kids that play the game. Just the
numbers game alone tells you they're going to produce a player almost every
year, and that's about what they've done. All those young men that have come
this way have been very good in this program."
One Williamston native that etched his name in the record books is
Pernell Griffin, who as a senior last season shattered the Conference USA
mark for career tackles en route to earning All-League honors. Another,
junior nose tackle Ronald Pou, emerged as a formidable force along the
Pirates' defensive front last season, and is primed to assume an expanded
role next year.
This year, Logan has once again tapped into Williamston, securing the
services of a tall, rangy receiver. At six-foot-five, 190-pounds, Kevin
Roach has prototypical size, which should come in handy in those
head-to-head battles with smaller defenders.
The task come August will be to identify the perfect slot for the sizable
target. With a diverse array of talents, Roach could emerge into a speedy
tight end, one likely to outrun opposing linebackers. Then again, he could
assume a more familiar role, providing the Pirates with one of their taller
targets on the outside.
Regardless, the options are aplenty for the sure-handed receiver.
"He's (Roach) kind of an Arnie Powell type player from a body
standpoint," Logan said. "He's a very gifted, hand-eye coordinated kid. He
can catch the football beautifully.
"He's been in our camp for two or three years, and I've watched him grow
up. He may end up being our version of a tight end, meaning he'll end up
being an inside receiver for us. Or, he could end up being a split end, a
Larry Shannon-type guy that we can get mismatched on a small corner."
No matter what, Logan expects big things out of Roach, who committed
early in the recruiting process.
"I'll be shocked if he doesn't have a great career at whatever position
he ends up being," Logan said. "Kevin is a 4.0 student — he's everything in
the world you'd ever want to find in a recruit."
That's the kind of luxury Logan enjoys these days. But he'll be the first
to tell you — it wasn't always this way.
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02/23/2007 01:45:42 AM