Bonesville: The Authoritative Independent Voice of East Carolina
Daily News & Features from East Carolina, Conference USA and Beyond

Mobile Alpha Roundup Daily Beat Recruiting The Seasons Multimedia Historical Data Pirate Time Machine SportByte™ Weather





Put your ad message in front of 1,000's and 1,000's of Pirate fans. Call 252.637.2944 for flexible options & rates.




Tracking the Stars of the Future

Football Recruiting Report
Friday, January 9, 2009

By Sammy Batten

THUMBNAILS:  2006  •  2007  •  2008  •  2009

Early offer to James pays off for ECU

By Sammy Batten
All rights reserved.

Two years ago Doug Illing coached one of the nation's best high school cornerbacks in Raeshon McNeil, who is now a sophomore starter at Notre Dame.

Illing, the veteran head coach at Davie County High in Mocksville, believes Perry James may be a better athlete than McNeil.

That's excellent news for East Carolina Pirate fans who can now count the speedy, 6-foot-1, 180-pound James as part of the football program's next recruiting class.

The Pirates took a gamble by offering James a scholarship after a 2007 season in which he didn't play due to shoulder problems. But the gamble paid off in November when James made a verbal commitment to ECU after an all-star senior campaign with Davie County.

James has been recruited to play a “cover'' cornerback position at ECU, which is exactly the position McNeil manned alongside James, then a sophomore, in '06. It was then the comparisons between the two began.

“They are very similar,'' Illing said. “Raeshon probably has a better knack for covering and breaking on people where as Perry is more athletically gifted. Raeshon is a hard worker who has developed his skills and talents. Perry is more natural and fluent. Raeshon is more inclined to be a student of the game, and I'm sure Perry will develop that trait, too, as he gets more mature.

“They both definitely have that skill to be out there on an island, one-on-one with the best (receiver) on the other team.''

James displayed that skill so well as a senior that he was rewarded with a spot on the North Carolina squad for the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas all-star game. He wound up being unable to play after getting a staph infection in his palm, but still created some plays worthy of a highlight film during Davie's regular season.

“There were a couple of plays he made in our Thomasville games where he broke quickly on a pass and just physically leveled the receiver when the ball arrived,'' Illing said. “He did that twice in that game. Then he also reeled in a long interceptions that he chased down, and that showed his speed.

“That's what he does. He's a fast, physical, aggressive defensive back.''

You could say Illing is an expert on James. He's watched James, whose blessed with 4.4-second speed in the 40-yard dash, since his youth league days in Davie County.

“He always stood out,'' Illing said. “He was always bigger and faster and playing at a level above everybody else. It was that way up through the ranks and right into middle school. He was special there and he continued to be special when he got up here (varsity).''

James became a rarity at Davie County when he made the varsity as a freshman. He became a starter as a sophomore, working at wide receiver, cornerback and returning kicks. But James would suffer a shoulder injury during a state playoff game that season which would also force him to sit out his junior year.

Without any junior video to study on James, most major-college programs took a wait-and-see attitude about offering scholarships. But ECU saw enough of James from his sophomore season to extend an offer.

“East Carolina was going to give him a chance to play without seeing junior film on him,'' Illing said. “Most people were not willing to take a chance without seeing him physically play. But East Carolina thought, after seeing his sophomore film, that he was skilled enough to play on their level. So they took a chance and gave him an early offer.

"They showed confidence in him, and I think that had a big impact on Perry.''

Since the Shrine Bowl, Illing said programs like Clemson, Illinois and Notre Dame have all inquired about James. But James is solid with the Pirates.

“He's definitely a Pirate,'' Illing said. “He was sold on their program and the things they're doing there.''

James is the fourth defensive back prospect who has made a verbal commitment to ECU. He joins Ty Holmes from Lexington, Torrance Hunt from Durham and Kyle Tudor from Evans. GA.

The Pirates now have 16 players verbally committed for the Class of 2009.

Send an e-mail message to Sammy Batten.

Dig into Sammy Batten's archives.

01/09/2009 01:49:14 AM


©2001-2002-2003-2004-2005-2006-2007-2008-2009-2010-2011-2012-2013 All rights reserved.
Articles, logos, graphics, photos, audio files, video files and other content originated on this site are the proprietary property of
None of the articles, logos, graphics, photos, audio files, video files or other content originated on this site may be reproduced without written permission.
This site is not affiliated with East Carolina University. View's Privacy Policy. Advertising contact: 252-349-3280; Editorial contact:; 252-444-1905.