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Tracking the Stars of the Future

Football Recruiting Report
Tuesday, May 30, 2006

By Sammy Batten

Offensive Report Card • Defensive Report Card • Profiles

QB's & Receivers • Offensive Linemen & RB's

Pirates in the chase for stellar QB's, receivers


Many of East Carolina’s football recruiting targets for the Class of 2007 are being determined right now as perhaps the most important evaluation period of the process reaches it conclusion.

With the exception of Sundays and Memorial Day, coaches could visit the high school campus of a potential recruit twice between April 15 and May 31 in order to evaluate the player’s ability and academic qualifications. So it’s been one long road trip after another for the ECU coaching staff as it scours the country in search of new talent.

Those travels have no doubt included stops in Angier, Ahoskie, Elizabeth City, Thomasville, Tucker, GA, Columbia, SC, and other towns where players who have already received scholarship offers from the Pirates reside.

Four quarterbacks with varied skills, including one from the West Coast, are among a group of about 22 players who have confirmed offers from ECU.

Defensive coordinator Greg Hudson is the man responsible for courting Redlands, CA, passer Ronnie Fouch, a 6-foot-2, 185-pounder who received an ECU offer in April. Despite an injury that limited his season to 10 games, Fouch completed 171 of 274 passes for 34 touchdowns as a junior at East Valley High School. He was intercepted just four times and threw for 2,379 yards overall. In one game against Arroyo Valley, Fouch threw for 381 yards and six touchdowns.

But after completing a pass in game ten, Fouch was hit by two defenders and suffered a shoulder separation. He’s on his way to a full recovery after undergoing surgery in November.

The Pirates are the only NCAA Division I-A programs to have offered him at this point, but Fouch is receiving interest from schools such as Nebraska, Notre Dame, Southern Cal, UCLA and Washington.

A pro-style quarterback who does most of his damage from the pocket, Fouch does have adequate speed (4.8 in 40) and will run if needed.

Running is exactly what Rodney Cox, a 6-6, 228-pounder from Harnett Central High in Angier, prefers to do. And he’s darn good at it.

Cox, who runs a consistent 4.7 40, piled up 2,295 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns as a junior in Harnett Central’s spread offense. He also completed 70 of 132 passes for 1,471 yards and 17 scores.

Many recruiting analysts believe Cox is also athletic enough to play another position in college, like current Pirate Devon Drew who came to school as a quarterback but is now making the transition to tight end. But Cox is adamant about wanting a chance to play quarterback first.

N.C. State was Cox’s childhood favorite, so the Wolfpack looms as the team to beat. But so far East Carolina is the only other team to have offered and we expect them to be in it with Cox until the end.

Another Eastern North Carolina quarterback being eyed by the Pirates is 6-3, 190-pound Danny Dembry from Ahoskie’s Hertford County High, the same school that produced current ECU defensive lineman Wendell Chavis.

Dembry, like Cox, is a gifted athlete who can run or pass the football. He compiled more than 1,500 yards of total offense and scored 17 touchdowns as a junior on a team that featured N.C. State signee LaMarcus Bond and a top recruit for this season, Tydreke Powell.

Because of his 4.6 speed in the 40, Dembry is being recruited as an athlete who could play quarterback, wide receiver or safety in college. N.C. State has offered him a scholarship to play safety or wide receiver, while Kentucky and Buffalo have recruited him at quarterback.

ECU likes Dembry as a quarterback or wide receiver. A tall, lanky athlete, Dembry has excellent ballhandling skills when running the option and can throw on the move.

Last, but certainly not least among the Pirates quarterback prospects, is 6-2, 215-pound Darryl McFadden, who led Charlotte’s Independence High to its sixth straight state title last December in only his first year as the starter. McFadden took over for Georgia signee Joe Cox and completed 230 of 464 passes for 3,877 yards and 33 touchdowns after backing up Cox for two seasons.

East Carolina and Vanderbilt were the first schools to offer McFadden, but you can expect the recruitment to pick up even more as the summer progresses.

Quarterback isn’t the only offensive skill position ECU is seeking help. Wide receiver and tight end are also two priorities for head coach Skip Holtz and his staff for 2007.

Adding speed to the receiver corps is a must and to that end the Pirates have already offered scholarships to Anson County’s Michael Bowman, Waynelle Gravesande of Irvington, NJ, and Sidney Haynes from Suwanee, GA. All three have been timed at 4.5 seconds or better in the 40-yard dash.

Bowman (5-11, 165, 4.48) actually plays running back at Anson and rushed for 1,246 yards last season. He’s a very shifty, elusive runner with excellent vision, but because he doesn’t catch the ball much out of the backfield in the Bearcats’ offense it’s been hard to evaluate his pass-catching skills on video to date.

But schools such as ECU, South Carolina and Tennessee know enough to have already offered him scholarships.

The 5-10, 155-pound Gravesande (4.49 40) proved a prolific receiver as a junior when he caught 61 passes for 819 yards and 10 touchdowns. East Carolina, Hofstra and Michigan State were the first schools to extend offers.

Hayes is a big receiver at 6-4, 195 pounds who still has 4.5 speed and a 33-inch vertical leap. He used those assets to make 34 catches for 668 yards and five scores as a junior.

The tight end position may be ECU’s No. 1 focus in recruiting for the Class of 2007. The Pirates have already offered 6-5, 250-pound Brandon Lampkin from Tucker, GA, and 6-5, 225-pound Michael Byrd of Thomasville High.

Byrd has 4.8 speed, good agility and strong hands. He’s also being looked at by Boston College, Clemson, N.C. State, North Carolina and South Carolina.

Lampkin has nice, big hands and runs well with the ball after he catches it. Because of his size, he’s also a solid blocker. Lampkin is so agile that he often lines up at wide receiver for his prep team.

The Pirates are his only offer at this stage, but Auburn, Clemson, Georgia and Michigan State are also showing major interest.

In my next column, I’ll take a look at the running backs and offensive linemen the Pirates are zeroing in on in recruiting.

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02/23/2007 02:37:35 PM


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