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Tracking the Stars of the Future

Football Recruiting Report
Tuesday, June 6, 2007

By Sammy Batten

Breakaway back Spencer finally makes the call

By Sammy Batten
All rights reserved.

Call it official, this time without reservation. Darius Spencer is now a member of East Carolina’s recruiting Class of 2008.

The star running back from A.C. Reynolds High School in Asheville, NC, told national recruiting websites last week he was going to make a verbal commitment to the Pirates. Those outlets naturally posted stories regarding Spencer’s decision.

The only problem was that Spencer hadn't notified the ECU coaching staff he was accepting their scholarship offer, according to Reynolds coach Shane Laws. Although just a formality, Spencer didn’t make that phone call until Tuesday.

“He called them officially today,’’ Laws said Tuesday afternoon. “I had to proctor an exam, but he used the phone in my office. So it’s official now.’’

The announcement signified another major in-state recruiting coup for the Pirates, who had received previous commitments from athlete Joseph Womack of Northside High in Jacksonville and running back-wide receiver Marquan Brown of Fayetteville Gray’s Creek. Both are regarded as two of the top rising senior prospects in the state for the 2007 season.

But Spencer, a 5-foot-10, 178-pounder, had been receiving even more recruiting interest than Brown or Womack. He chose ECU over scholarship offers from Marshall, North Carolina and N.C. State.

The Pirates have added another true burner to their backfield picture in Spencer, who was timed at 4.32 and 4.33 seconds during a Shrine Bowl All-Star Game combine at Reynolds back in April. He used those swift feet to rush for nearly 1,200 yards and 18 touchdowns as a junior last season, despite splitting time at tailback with teammate C.J. Davis.

“Because of his speed most people were recruiting him to play running back,’’ Reynolds coach Shane Laws. “He hits that top gear so quick. If he gets a little crack, he’s gone and it’s hard to run him down.

“I’ve never had a player with the speed he has. It’s almost freakish in some ways.’’

Laws cited a play made in last year’s game against rival Asheville High as a great example of Spencer’s skill as a running back.

“We had just turned the ball over and Asheville had scored to go ahead 7-0,’’ Laws said. “We were stuck deep in our own territory and were having a hard time moving the ball.

“We had a third-and-long play and called a draw. He took the ball at about our 30 and went 70 yards to tie the game. The thing is Asheville had a lot of guys with a lot of speed. But Darius made them look like they were playing at different speed than him. He just kind of ran away from them on that draw play.’’

Spencer was first spotted by the Reynolds coaching staff as a middle school player. Even as an eighth grader, Spencer was so dedicated to football that he asked to work out in the summer with the high school team.

“You could tell right then he didn’t look like an eighth grader in our weight room,’’ Laws said. “He loves the game. It’s such a huge part of his life. He’s relentless in the weight room. He’s a 180-pound guy who squats about 500 pounds. He’s incredibly strong.’’

After a freshman season on the junior varsity, Spencer started at cornerback on defense as a sophomore and was the backup at tailback. He became the No. 1 tailback last season and started at cornerback.

Scholarship offers began arriving this spring for Spencer, but the Pirates may have already had a head start on the field. ECU signed Reynolds tight end and Spencer’s close friend, Will Towery, in February and he’ll be a freshman next fall.

“Darius and Will are pretty good buddies,’’ Laws said. “They spent a lot of time together this season, and I think that helped East Carolina.

“He had a lot of other schools ready to offer. He was receiving about 10 to 15 letters a day from schools all over the country. Top 20 schools from last year are sending him mail. But some wanted to wait and see what happened (during Spencer’s senior year).’’

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08/12/2007 12:56:06 AM


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