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Tracking the College Gridiron Stars of the Future

Football Recruiting Report
Saturday, January 29, 2005

By Sammy Batten

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Holtz hauling in offensive weapons



Maybe it’s just a coincidence. Or maybe it’s just a reflection of where Skip Holtz’s priorities are for his first recruiting class at East Carolina.

Either way, the Pirates continued to stock offensive talent in their Class of 2005 this week by adding verbal commitments from Rocky Mount quarterback Terrell Hudgins as well as running back Dominique Lindsay and wide receiver Kyle Johnson from Charlotte.

The trio joined Florida quarterback Rob Kass as four of the first five players pledging to ECU since Holtz took over for John Thompson in December. New Bern defensive back Chris Mattocks is the fifth member of that quartet.

The early emphasis on offensive talent, especially at quarterback, has been out of necessity for Holtz because of the untimely exit of last year’s starter James Pinkney from ECU due to academic problems.

Hudgins won’t be ready to compete for Pinkney’s spot next fall, but he will bring some valuable athleticism and a penchant for helping his teams win – in any sport.

As a junior, Hudgins was picked as the most valuable player on an 8-3 football team, for a basketball squad that won 20-plus games and for the successful Gryphons’ baseball club. In his final prep season, Hudgins sparked the football squad to an unbeaten regular season for the first time in 40 years.

“I think that says quite a bit about him,’’ Rocky Mount football coach B.W. Holt said. “He’s a winner, and I really think his best days are ahead of him.’’

The 6-foot-2, 212-pounder has some pretty good days behind him on the football field, too.

Hudgins served three seasons as Rocky Mount’s starting quarterback and set school career records for passing yards (5,524), attempts (587), completions (292) and touchdowns (61). He capped his career by throwing for 1,687 yards and 22 touchdowns in leading the Gryphons into the third round of the 4-A playoffs.

Despite those impressive statistics, major college recruiters paid minimal interest to Hudgins before Holtz arrived at ECU. Elon University, a I-AA program, had been the only school to offer Hudgins a scholarship until his official visit to Greenville on Jan. 21. Patrick Pinkney, a red-shirt freshman who may be the leading contender to start at quarterback for the Pirates next fall, was Hudgins’ host for the weekend.

“Coach Holtz said he thought I was a great athlete and that he wanted me to come to ECU,’’ Hudgins said. “He asked me if I needed time to think about it. I said, ‘Yes,’ but really I just wanted to tell my mother first. So when we were walking out I told her I was going to accept. I went back and told him I wanted to be a Pirate.’’

Hudgins describes himself as a quarterback “who makes people go ‘Wow!’’’

“I have a great arm, good speed and I just make great plays,’’ Hudgins said. “I make plays that when most people see them they don’t have too many words to describe it except, ‘Wow!’’’

The departure of James Pinkney left ECU with only Patrick Pinkney and red-shirt freshman Davon Drew as the only scholarship quarterbacks on the roster. Like Kass, Hudgins expects to join that competition for the starting job next fall.

But Holt said even if Hudgins doesn’t work out at quarterback, he’ll still be an asset to the ECU program.

“I would think they’d probably look at him at quarterback,’’ Holt said. “If I were a betting guy, I’d say he’ll probably be red-shirted, and he needs to be.

“But there are a number of places he could play. He could be an outside linebacker. He could be a wide receiver or a defensive back. He could put on 45 pounds and be one heck of a tight end because he’s got great hands.

“I’m sure he’d like to play quarterback, though. But more than anything he wants to be on the field.’’

Lindsay was a major cog on the Independence High School team that extended its national-best winning streak to 77 straight and won a fifth consecutive state 4-A championship this season. He led a pass-oriented Patriots team in rushing with 1,084 yards and 17 touchdowns on 121 carries.

The 5-101/2, 185-pounder broke into the Independence lineup as a junior, producing 1,875 yards and 32 touchdowns while splitting time at tailback.

“That’s pretty amazing considering our quarterback threw for over 4,000 yards each of those seasons,’’ Independence coach Bill Geiler said.

Lindsay had also been mainly a I-AA or Division II target with Appalachian State, James Madison, Eastern Kentucky, Catawba and Wingate offering scholarships before the Pirates came calling.

“Most schools are trying to get the 6-1, 220-pound guys running 4.4s,’’ Geiler said. “That’s not Dominique. That’s not what he does. He has great vision as a runner and can make very quick cuts. He is very hard to tackle. I don’t think he’s been tackled one-on-one in two years.

“He’s 5-101/2, 185 pounds and his body fat is about one or two percent. He’s just cut. But he’s not big. He doesn’t look like a big running back.’’

Because Lindsay has played in a passing offense at Independence, Geiler believes he'll fit perfectly into Holtz’s backfield at ECU.

“I think he felt like Coach Holtz is going to use him the way we liked to in our offense,’’ Geiler said. “We run a one-back set and throw to him some. He catches the ball real well, and he blocks well.’’

The Pirates also landed a quality receiver in Johnson, a 6-2, 185-pounder who played at Hopewell High in Charlotte.

Johnson played two seasons at Hopewell after moving with his family from Minnesota. His father is a former chaplain for the Minnesota Vikings football team and he served as spokesman for Reggie White’s family after the NFL great’s death last month.

The younger Johnson distinguished himself as a senior at Hopewell by catching 42 passes for 720 yards and six touchdowns. He also produced six interceptions playing defense.

“He passes the look test,’’ Hopewell coach Mike Bradley said. “He looks like an athlete. He’s real fluid and runs well. He returned two interceptions for touchdowns this season and he averaged about 10 or 15 yards running with the football.’’

Johnson fielded scholarship offers from Appalachian State, Richmond, Western Carolina and Wingate, according to Bradley.

“He was lining up an official visit to North Carolina, but cancelled,’’ Bradley said. “Everybody kind of started to learn about Kyle after he ran a 4.38 at one of the Shrine Bowl combines last summer. That speed gives him the ability to turn a 6-yard curl pattern into a 60-yard play. He has big-play potential.’’

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02/23/2007 02:36:41 PM

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