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From staff and ECU
(Photo: ECU SID)
Donnie Thompson will have
to acquaint himself with an array of new landmarks when he rejoins the
East Carolina football staff for the first time in 16 years.
The defensive coordinator
of the Pirates during the last two years of the Art Baker era, Thompson
was named Tuesday as assistant head coach and defensive line coach on
the staff of new ECU skipper Skip Holtz.
Thompson returns to East
Carolina from Illinois, where he was defensive line coach the last four
seasons. He helped lead the Fighting Illini to a 10-2 record and a Sugar
Bowl appearance in 2001, his initial season in Champaign. He also served
as that program's video coordinator all four years.
Thompson left ECU in 1989
for a 12-year stint as defensive line coach at North Carolina, which
during that stretch advanced to seven bowl games under head coaches Mack
Brown (1989-1997) and Carl Torbush (1998-2000).
When Thompson departed
Greenville, the Pirate football staff and the team's locker room was
still crammed into the decades-old Scales Fieldhouse, a modest building
which the football Pirates shared with several other ECU sports teams.
The limited weight-training facilities were located several blocks away.
The school's athletics
complex has undergone a massive upgrade since that time, benefiting from
an infusion of tens of millions of dollars for new facilities
construction and capital improvements.
Among the changes near
Charles Street that will greet Thompson on his return are the Ward
Sports Medicine Building, which houses the athletic department staff and
the football team's locker room, the upper deck, club level and jumbo
video scoreboard at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, and the Murphy Center,
generally considered on the nation's finer strength and conditioning
"I'm excited that someone
with Donnie's experience, character and integrity will be in a position
to make an impact, not only to our program, but to the entire eastern
North Carolina region," said Holtz in a statement.
"His reputation as a
recruiter and coach speak for itself, as do his values as a leader of
young men. The fact that he chose to return to the East Carolina
University family serves as a true testament to the outstanding support
of the Greenville community and Pirate Nation."
reinforces the notion that Holtz intends to build his staff around a
core of seasoned veterans with long track records of success.
Monday that Steve Shankweiler, who worked with Holtz at South Carolina,
expected to be returning to the
Pirates staff in his former position as offensive line coach.
Shankweiler served as offensive line coach under former ECU head coaches
Bill Lewis and Steve Logan during some of the most successful seasons in
Longtime ECU running backs
Jerry McManus has also been
retained by Holtz, at least for the time being, to maintain the
recruiting efforts the school had underway under John Thompson, who
stepped down as coach of the Pirates at the end of the recent season.
Over the years, Donnie
Thompson has been credited with the development or recruitment of a
number of marquee players that went on to success with the National
Football League, including first round draft choices Julius Peppers
(DE), Ryan Simms (DL) and Ebenezer Ekuban (DE).
After leaving ECU in 1989,
Thompson was a part of a North Carolina staff that led the Tar Heels to
four bowl victories (1993 Peach Bowl, 1995 Carquest Bowl, 1997 Gator
Bowl and 1998 Gator Bowl).
During that span, North
Carolina also captured national statistical titles in turnover margin
(1996) and scoring defense (1997).
Before his move to Chapel
Hill, in addition to acting as ECU's defensive coordinator, Thompson
served as administrative assistant to Baker, was responsible for the
defensive line and worked with linebackers.
In the earlier years of
his coaching career, Thompson spent time on the staffs at Western
Kentucky (defensive coordinator 1985-86) and Pittsburgh (defensive line
1981-84). While at Pitt, he helped the Panthers to the 1983 Cotton Bowl
and the 1984 Fiesta Bowl.
A native of Bogalusa, La.,
Thompson began his coaching career as a linebackers and ends coach at
Connecticut from 1975 to 1981, where he had been a four-year letterman
as a defensive standout. He earned his bachelor's degree in business
administration from UConn in 1974 and added a master's in psychology in
02/23/07 11:30 AM
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Bonesville.net contributed to this report. An
ECU Athletics press release was used as a reference in
compiling this report.