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Signing Day Special

Pirate Notebook No. 49
Thursday, February 7, 2002

By Denny O'Brien
Staff Writer and Columnist

Signing Day a Clear Reflection of Progress at ECU


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 better.

"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 program."

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 regional kids.

"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.

Williamston Pipeline

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

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