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Tracking the Stars of the Future

Football Recruiting Report
Tuesday, August 18, 2009

By Sammy Batten

Swift defensive end 'Falls' Pirates' way

By Sammy Batten
All rights reserved.

Maurice Falls has been part of the South Point High School football program since his freshman year. But it wasn't until 2008 as a junior that Falls developed into a special player, according to head coach John Devine.

“Maurice is one of those late bloomers,'' Devine said. “Actually, his first year starting was last year. He's one of those kids whose body outgrew his feet for a while. He could always run, but a lot of his change of direction and agility didn't mature until last fall.''

The development turned Falls into an All-Big South 3-A Conference selection as a junior. The 6-foot-3, 220-pounder collected 66 tackles, including 11 sacks, while playing his first season at defensive end for the Red Raiders.

East Carolina began recruiting Falls a short time later and eventually received a verbal commitment from him in July. But that interest began only after the Pirates missed connecting with Falls the first time around.

Devine said ECU receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Donnie Kirkpatrick visited South Point early last spring to check on potential prospects. But it happened to be the only day all year that Falls wasn't in school.

A video highlight tape sent of Falls' junior season sent by Devine eventually reached Kirkpatrick, who then made a return trip to Belmont in May.

“That happened to be the day Athletic Republic (sports training) from Charlotte was speed timing all my kids,'' Devine said. “Coach Kirkpatrick walked up and saw Maurice running a 4.5 and 4.52 (40-yard dash). That was on grass in football shoes.

“Coach Kirkpatrick poked me in the side and said, 'I'll see you later. I'm going to talk to that boy.' He offered him (Falls) a full ride before he left to go back to Greenville.''

Falls had also been offered scholarships by Navy and N.C. A&T, plus Duke was starting to show interest. But ECU's coaching staff made a strong impression on Falls.

“I developed a strong relationship with Coach Kirkpatrick and (defensive end) Coach (Vernon) Hargreaves,'' Falls said. “I just felt comfortable with them. It's pretty much like a family up there at East Carolina.''

Falls said the Pirates could use him as a defensive end or outside linebacker, the latter of which would be another in a long line of positions he's played the last three years.

After playing quarterback for a championship middle school squad in the eighth grade, Falls began his high school career on the varsity as a wide receiver. But he was soon sent back down to the junior varsity to play quarterback.

From there Falls was shifted from safety to cornerback, back to safety and finally defensive end last year.

“When I went to defensive end, I knew I had the size to be good at that position,'' Falls said. “I just used my speed and tried to [make] big plays for our defense.''

Devine recalls vividly two of the biggest plays Falls made last season.

“We were playing T.W. Andrews in the second round (of playoffs) last year and we called a little stunt inside for him,'' Devine said. “They were running an inside veer or option. He got there at the mesh point, knocked the ball loose and picked it up.

“Then, in the the third round against Asheville, we were ahead 7-0 or something in the third quarter. He comes in on a pass rush and knocks the ball loose. We get a turnover off of it.

“He probably made 100 other plays like that. That was routine for him as a pass rusher. He doesn't let the quarterback sit back there and relax.''

But as good as Falls was in 2008, Devine believes even greater performances are ahead.

“I think he'll probably grow another two or three inches and gain 20 more pounds,'' Devine said. “The sky is the limit for him. He's only going to get stronger, faster and tougher as a football player.

“We're just so tickled for Maurice. He's a hard worker in the classroom and a great citizen off the field. He's a great example for young kids. I'm proud he'll be able to take advantage of this offer because his grades are very good.''

Falls is such a good student that he plans to graduate from South Point in December and enroll at ECU in January so he can participate in spring football practice.

“That's the plan,'' he said. “I want to get up there for spring practice and become a Pirate as soon as possible.''

The commitment from Falls increased ECU's recruiting Class of 2010 to nine. Falls is the sixth North Carolinian to join the class.

E-mail Sammy Batten.

Sammy Batten's Archives

08/18/2009 04:13:45 AM


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