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Tracking the Stars of the Future

Football Recruiting Report
Tuesday, July 1, 2008

By Sammy Batten

THUMBNAILS:  2006  •  2007  •  2008  •  2009

Pirates lure Georgia "bone crusher"

By Sammy Batten
All rights reserved.

Kyle Tudor enjoys the physical side of football so much that as an 8-year-old he traveled to the next county just so he could play a tackle brand of the sport.

“In Columbia County (GA), where I live, you could only play flag football at that age,’’ Tudor said. “So I went over to Richmond County so I could play tackle. I was obsessed with football. I ran home with my helmet on after the first practice.’’

That kind of passion helped Tudor become the leading tackler as a sophomore and junior at Lakeside High School in Evans, GA, and it was probably a factor when East Carolina’s coaching staff decided to offer him a scholarship in April.

The 6-foot-3 1/2-inch, 220-pound safety-linebacker accepted via verbal commitment on June 12 to become the sixth member of ECU’s recruiting Class of 2009.

“Bone crusher’’ is how Tudor describes the style he used to lead Columbia County with 109 tackles (32 solos) in 2008. The performance earned Tudor All-Area honors from The Augusta Chronicle.

“I like to knock people out,’’ Tudor said. “I’d rather hit somebody hard than to pick a ball off.’’

He’s not kidding.

Just ask the quarterback last year at Butler High, who had the unfortunate experience of meeting Tudor up close and personal in a scrimmage.

“It was at the very end of the scrimmage, they were leading us by two points and they were trying to drive to score again,’’ Tudor said. “The quarterback rolled out like he was going to pass, but instead he took off running. He tried a spin move off one of our players.

“I was playing safety. When he came out of that spin, I hit him and knocked him down. He tried to get up, but he stumbled and fell back over. He eventually had to crawl off the field.’’

Duke, Georgia, Louisville, Vanderbilt and several Mid-American Conference schools were showing interest in Tudor. East Carolina was the first school to offer, and that made an impression on Tudor, according to Lakeside coach Jody Grooms.

“East Carolina was one of the first schools to jump on Kyle and take an active interest in recruiting him,’’ Grooms said. “You’re talking about a kid in Kyle who is big on loyalty and commitment and trust. So when East Carolina stepped out on the limb early with an offer, that was big to him.’’

Grooms already knew a thing or two about how loyal the ECU coaching staff can be. In the spring of 2007, Grooms was finishing up the school year at Anson County High in Wadebsoro, NC, before moving to his new position at Lakeside.

One of Grooms’ players at Anson that season was Michael Bowman, a talented scat back who had signed a national letter-of-intent to play at South Carolina. But in July, after Grooms had moved on to Lakeside, Bowman was denied admission to South Carolina even though he was academically qualified under NCAA rules.

The ECU staff came to Bowman’s rescue, got him enrolled at Greenville and he’s expected to make a contribution at wide receiver as a redshirt freshman next fall.

“I couldn’t tell him anything bad about East Carolina,’’ Grooms said. “I have a lot of respect after what they did for Michael last year.’’

Tudor was used strictly at safety during his first two varsity seasons at Lakeside, but Grooms plans to shift him to inside linebacker in 2008. ECU has recruited him as a linebacker.

“East Carolina likes to recruit safeties for linebacker so they already have speed,’’ Tudor said. “They can always get you stronger and bigger.’’

The Pirates are expected to have Tudor on campus by the spring of 2009. He’s on schedule to graduate from high school in December and hopes to enroll early at ECU so he can participate in spring practice.

Grooms said the Pirates will be getting a player whose work ethic is second to none.

“The guy punches the clock every day,’’ he said. “He does not miss practice or workouts. When his family goes on summer vacations, he stays here to make sure the team is doing what it’s supposed to be doing. I’ve never coached any player who loves the game more than this kid. Some love it as much, but none more than he does.’’

Grooms also sees good things down the road for Bowman, who finished spring practice as the backup to Dwayne Harris at the H receiver spot.

“I still think Michael may be a year away,’’ Grooms said. “But I think he’s the kind of kid who could help them on special teams. He’s explosive when he gets the ball in his hands.

“He has to learn how to be a college receiver. And he has to get tougher and stronger. But Michael is adjusting well and I think he’s got a good future at East Carolina.’’

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07/01/2008 02:50:53 AM


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