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Final Part of Two-part Feature on ECU Recruit David Jorgensen
<<<  Click Here to Read Part One.  >>>


Pirate Notebook No. 55
Monday, March 4, 2002

By Denny O'Brien
Staff Writer and Columnist

Scotland High Connection to ECU Keeps Flowing


East Carolina recruit David Jorgensen, an All-Conference lineman at Scotland County High School, cuts upfield in the 2001 North-South Shrine Bowl in Rock Hill, SC.
[Photo: The Laurinburg Exchange}

For Jorgensen, Pirate Football Makes Perfect Fit

LAURINBURG — For David Jorgensen, finding the perfect pair of jeans can be a difficult task. Selecting the appropriate college, on the other hand, was easy as pie.

Since his freshman year, Jorgensen has had his sights set on East Carolina, envisioning himself sprinting into Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium amidst the sounds of "Purple Haze." That's been his dream since he first attended one of head coach Steve Logan's increasingly popular summer camps, where he had the opportunity to work with the ECU staff.

Now, with the dream about to become a reality, the future Pirate has turned his attention toward securing a starting position — something he hopes to obtain as early as next season.

"The (ECU) coaching staff said I'm as ready physically as anybody they've seen come through there at my age," Jorgensen said. "They've invited me to come up early to work out, and I plan to do that.

"They talked to me earlier about redshirting, but I'm going to do what I can to position myself for a starting job. Everybody's got to have goals, and that's mine."

Such a goal might seem unrealistic, even for a player of Jorgensen's stature. Logan annually redshirts the majority of his incoming freshmen, with the occasional exception made to fill immediate needs.

But Scotland head coach Mark Barnes is quick to point that we aren't dealing with your average freshman here. At six-foot-three, 300-pounds, Jorgensen already has the size to play at the next level, and with a world-record bench press under his belt, he certainly has the muscle.

"The thing that David really brings to the table is the strength factor," Barnes said. "He will be way ahead of the other freshmen at the next level.

"He is a very athletic person — he's never been fat. David has very good footwork, and is very quick for a kid his size."

Physically, there's no debating that Jorgensen is ready for big-time college ball. It's the mental and emotional strains of adjusting to college life that concern his parents most, which is why they'd prefer their youngest son take advantage of his redshirt year.

For the time being, though, Jorgensen continues to work toward his goal — and is doing everything in his power to achieve it.

"Right now, I feel like I'm there with my upper body," he said. "But I need to get quicker. I'm working hard on my lower body to strengthen my legs."

One factor in Jorgensen's favor is the high school program in which he played. Scotland County competes in arguably the state's toughest conference — Mid-Southeastern 4A — where the Scots tied traditional powers Douglas Byrd and Richmond County for the league crown last season.

While at Scotland, Jorgensen had the opportunity to learn from former ECU standout Norman Quick, widely considered one of the state's best offensive line coaches. Under Quick's tutelage, Jorgensen blossomed into an All-Conference tackle, one good enough to earn an invitation to the Shrine Bowl last season.

Sound fundamentals were one of the biggest selling points for ECU offensive line coach Steve Shankweiler, who projects the Laurinburg product as a guard in the Pirates' complex blocking system.

"One of the things I really look for in offensive linemen is whether or not they have what we call a good bend," Shankweiler said. " A lot of times, kids that size can't get a good bend in their knees. They are so top-heavy that they just tip right over.

"David can really get down and play in a low plain. He has powerful hips and legs. He really fits what we look for in our guards."

Jorgensen (right), teammate and friend Akeem Hale (left) and personal fitness coach Brooks Hale display awards after a July weightlifting competition in Hickory in which Jorgensen set a world bench press record for his age class.
[Photo: The Laurinburg Exchange}

Jorgensen accentuated his diverse skill set in the Scots' versatile offense, which underwent a major overhaul this past season. Throughout the first nine years of Barnes' tenure, the Scots were defined by their smash-mouth style, which changed last year when they deployed a high-octane spread attack.

The experience of playing in two different offensive systems should come in handy for Jorgensen in Greenville.

"He's been in two different offenses since he's been at Scotland," said Barnes, who has compiled an 81-35 record in ten seasons at the school. "I think that diversity will really help him at the next level.

"When he was a sophomore and junior, we were more of a straight-ahead power running team, which gave him the chance to use his strength to knock people down. During his senior year, we ran a spread offense, which gave him the opportunity to fine-tune his skills in the five-step passing game. I think that experience will really pay dividends at East Carolina."

And if Jorgensen has anything to say about it, the pay-off will begin next season.

Laurinburg Bloodlines

Of all the in-state Division I-A schools, East Carolina is the most distant from Laurinburg. The 170-mile trek is highlighted by a 90-mile stretch of I-95, which can sometimes transform a three-hour drive into a four-hour nightmare.

Yet, the inconvenient haul hasn't turned away some of Scotland's finest players, who played integral roles in creating Pirate football lore at various times over the last couple of decades.

"If you really do your research," Barnes said, "you'll see that the bloodlines from Scotland County to East Carolina go way back to the 80s with Norman Quick and Jeff Pegues.

"I think the relationship is quite a tribute to the two schools. They have a very good program up there, and so do we. I'm happy anytime we can get a player looked at by East Carolina."

Both Quick and Pegues were members of the legendary ECU team of 1983 that finished nationally-ranked at 8-3, with the three losses coming against Miami, Florida, and Florida State by a combined 13 points. Quick combined with consensus All-American Terry Long to anchor a stout offensive front, while Pegues shined as a dominant defensive end, earning honorable mention All-America honors during that remarkable season.

There was a lengthy span in the 90s, however, when the Pirates' roster was missing that hint of Scotland flavor. It's not that Barnes wasn't manufacturing Division-I talent, rather the school's blue chippers were heading elsewhere.

But that trend has changed of late, as February 6 marked the third-consecutive year the Pirates have gathered a signature from a Laurinburg native. Defensive back Brandon Rainer and receiver Garrett Peterkin signed in 2000 and 2001, respectively, and should figure prominently into the Pirates' plans next season.

Now, Shankweiler hopes East Carolina can maintain that momentum, plucking Laurinburg's finest on an annual basis. To do so, he'll continue to sell the Pirates' winning tradition, not to mention Greenville's down-home atmosphere.

"We've always recruited the Scotland County area really hard, and we will continue to do so," Shankweiler said. "It is a strong football culture, one that gets a lot of support from the community.

"Our recent success down there is a tribute to where our program is right now. I think those kids are surprised by what we have to offer — the facilities that we have. And I think kids from towns like Laurinburg feel a sense of home up here."

And if Vicky Jorgensen has told her son once, she's told him a thousand times — there's no place like home.

Final Part of a Two-Part Feature on Pirate Football Recruit David Jorgensen
<<<  Click Here to Read Part One.  >>>

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02/23/2007 01:46:13 AM

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