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Tracking the Stars of the Future

Football Recruiting Report
Friday, June 23, 2006

By Sammy Batten

Offensive Report Card • Defensive Report Card • Profiles

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

Pirates uncover early treasure in recruiting wars


Steve Spence came to East Carolina twice in the past month to improve his football skills. Spence left with an intense desire to return to Greenville as a member of the Pirate football program.

Desire met reality on Monday when Spence became the first member of ECU’s recruiting Class of 2007. The 6-foot-2, 221-pound linebacker from Norfolk, VA, made a verbal commitment to play for the Pirates following a whirlwind recruitment that began in earnest only last Wednesday.

Spence, who plays for former ECU defensive lineman Dealton Cotton (90-92, 94) at Maury High School, attended the individual skills camp run by Coach Skip Holtz’s staff on June 14-16 in Greenville. The Pirates were so impressed with his talent that they invited Spence back to participate in the inaugural Beast of the East Passing Tournament on June 17.

“The talk was after my second visit they might offer me a scholarship,’’ Spence said Thursday. “They didn’t offer then and there. But they did say, ‘If we can get you here, we want you.’

“I went home and started thinking about that. I started to think about the atmosphere there, the facilities and how the coaches had talked with me honestly. I had a relationship and a bond with them (ECU coaches) within the first couple of hours of meeting them. So I called (defensive coordinator) Coach (Greg) Hudson on Monday and told him I was feeling maybe I should go ahead and do this. I was waiting on some other schools to get back to me when East Carolina already offered everything I wanted.

“Coach Hudson talked to me about getting my transcripts together, and said I had done the right thing by calling, and he would stay in touch. It wasn’t very long before my high school coach called to say they wanted to offer me. One thing led to another. I called their coaches and they said they were willing to offer tonight. I told them I was willing to commit.

“When I spoke with Coach Holtz his reaction was almost like it was Christmas in June.’’

Holtz had a reason to be excited, according to Cotton, who has been the head coach at Maury for two seasons.

Spence is expected to start at Maury for a fourth straight season next fall. He joined the varsity as a ninth grader and was a first-team offensive tackle and second-string linebacker. The next two seasons he would become a starter both ways.

As a junior, Spence earned first-team all-district honors on the offensive line. He also contributed about 60 tackles at linebacker for a squad that went 9-2 and reached the first round of the state playoffs. The Commodores’ lineup last season also included Virginia Tech signee Kam Chancellor.

“He’s a physical kid who is very mobile,’’ Cotton said. “He works on learning the game. He wants to know what’s going on with the calls and all that stuff. He’s one of those tough kids who hates to lose, but at the same time he’s very humble. He has a lot of good qualities about him.’’

Delaware and James Madison were also recruiting Spence and Cotton felt many others would get involved in the near future. Despite close ties to ECU — Cotton was a teammate of Pirate running backs coach Junior Smith — he didn’t try to influence Spence toward Greenville.

“I’ll be totally honest. I don’t think Steve even knew I was a player at East Carolina until I told him at the camp,’’ Cotton said. “I try not to be biased. I love East Carolina. But I try to let the kids make their own decisions.

“I won’t take credit for it, but I am very excited about his decision.’’

Spence is carrying on a family football tradition. His father, Steve Brantley, is a former Norfolk prep star who started his son’s interest in the sport.

“My Dad didn’t really push me or force me into football,’’ Spence said. “But he did say, ‘Steve, I did play football and this is what I did. They called me The Beast or The Monster.’ So I took that and ran with it on my own. I started playing back in the fourth grade in recreation leagues.’’

By the time he reached the ninth grade at Maury, Spence was sure he wanted to play the sport for a living some day.

“I went from this porky kid playing the offensive line and in rec ball to this dude who had sculpted his body into a linebacker,’’ Spence said. “It just really clicked for me. I want to be one of the best in the world, and I’ll do whatever it takes to get there.’’

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02/23/2007 02:37:37 PM


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