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Tracking the Stars of the Future

Football Recruiting Report
Monday, January 17, 2011

By Sammy Batten

Family ties lead star linebacker to ECU

By Sammy Batten
All rights reserved.

The decision was a natural one for Montese Overton. Even though the talented prep linebacker had scholarship offers from the likes of Arkansas, N.C. State, South Carolina and Tennessee, it was a lifelong connection to East Carolina that led him to join the Pirates recruiting Class of 2011 on January 9.

Overton has played the last three years on the varsity squad at South Central High School located just outside Greenville in the Pitt County town of Winterville, which has given him a close-up perspective of the ECU program. But his connections to the school aren't just geographical.

His father, Darrell Overton, is a former Pirate basketball player who lettered under coaches Mike Steele and Eddie Payne from 1988-91.

“He gave serious thought to all the offers he was receiving,'' South Central defensive coordinator Lamont Gaddy said. “But because his dad and his mom both went there, ECU may have had the inside track all along.''

The decision by Overton gives the Pirates another significant boost through recruiting to upgrade its defense and bolster a position where they lose three players from the season-ending two-deep depth chart. Those include starters Melvin Patterson and Dustin Lineback as well as backup Wes Pittman.

ECU's current commit list of 17 players includes 11 who are expected to man defensive positions. Two of those are linebacker prospects in Overton and Treshawn Council from Durham's Hillside High School.

Overton has been a primary player on South Central's varsity since his sophomore season. But he was well known to the coaching staff there long before he arrived on campus.

“He was pretty good in middle school, so he was on our radar before he came over here,'' Gaddy said. “When he first stepped on campus his physical stature kind of set him apart from other kids. Also, he has a lot of intangibles and he was fast. He looked really good running. He stood out as a college prospect almost from the first day, physically.''

Overton would spend his first season with the Falcons on the junior varsity where played linebacker and wide receiver. But his career on offense didn't last long, according to Gaddy. “We tried him at wide receiver, but we realized his hands weren't good enough, so we limited him to defense on the varsity.''

Playing both inside and outside linebacker in South Central's 3-4 alignment, he helped the Falcons to the first winning season in the school's young history as a junior. He contributed 64 tackles and six quarterback sacks on a defensive unit that limited foes to 15 points a game. The performance was a key element in South Central's 8-4 finish.

The 6-foot-3, 210-pounder followed that up with an even more spectacular senior season. He made 200 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and five sacks to earn area defensive player of the year honors from the Greenville Reflector newspaper.

It was one of the top individual performances in South Central history and earned him a spot alongside Tyrell Worthington as the best football players ever at the school. Worthington, a running back-defensive back who was once committed to the Pirates, opted for a career in professional baseball. He was a fifth-round pick in the 2007 amateur draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks and spent three seasons in their minor league organization. Gaddy said Worthington may now be pondering a return to football.

“I'd say Montese is right up there as the best overall we've had here with Tyrell Worthington,'' Gaddy said. “He's a tremendous athlete.''

As an example of Overton's athleticism, Gaddy recalled two plays he made during the 2010 season.

“There was one against Washington where he threw off an offensive lineman, faked out another blocker and made the tackle,'' Gaddy said. “There were a couple of times he fought through and blocked extra points to show off his speed. Then there was one against West Craven where he busted into the backfield, kind of redirected, got off a couple of blocks and made a big tackle for loss.

“Those are the kind of things he did for us all year. He made the big plays for us on defense.''

ECU began recruiting Overton when Skip Holtz was still the head coach. When Holtz departed for South Florida after the 2009 season, Coach Ruffin McNeill's staff assumed his recruitment.

“Coach Holtz and his staff were on him hot and heavy,'' Gaddy said. “When Coach Holtz left, there was a period it slowed down as the new staff came in and got their feet wet. But once they got their eyes on him, they were on him heavy, too.''

Because of Overton's physical style of play, Gaddy believes he can compete for playing time at ECU as a true freshman on special teams, and perhaps at linebacker.

“He's going to do whatever it takes to be ready, I can tell you that,'' Gaddy said. “He's going to get bigger and stronger over the summer. With the way he works and the needs they have over there, I think he could see some time as a true freshman.''

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01/26/2011 02:10:14 AM


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