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Tracking the Stars of the Future

Football Recruiting Report
Monday, February 21, 2011

By Sammy Batten

Arizona Western star fits just right at ECU

National JUCO player of the year expected to hit the
ground running in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium next fall

Reggie Bullock

( image)


Thumbnail Sketches of ECU's Recruiting Class of 2011


Conference USA School-by-School Recruiting Classes


By Sammy Batten
All rights reserved.

The doubters have always been there, telling Reggie Bullock he wasn't big enough to become a football star.

They started when Bullock made the varsity as a freshman at Weston High School in Las Vegas, and again when college recruiters began pursuing him as a senior at Las Vegas High. Over the past year, Bullock's size — he's 5-foot-9 and weighs about 180 pounds — has also come into question as he completed his sophomore season at Arizona Western College in Yuma, AZ.

“I hear it all the time,'' Bullock said. “A lot of people are always criticizing me (for) my size and telling me I'm not big enough to play at this school or that school. But I always prove them wrong once I get the opportunity to play.''

The dynamic running back surprised his doubters by rushing for more than 1,000 yards in three straight high school seasons. He did it again with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons at Arizona Western where in 2010 he was named the national junior college offensive player of the year.

But despite those accolades at Arizona Western, many major-college programs shied away from Bullock because — you guessed it — his size.

“I think a lot of schools, like in the Pac-10 and Big Ten, looked at him and didn't think he was tough enough or big enough. They were afraid of his size,'' Matadors coach Tom Minnick said. “But those schools made a mistake.''

One school that focused on Bullock's physical skills instead of his drawbacks was East Carolina. The Pirates considered him one of the prizes in the recruiting class they signed earlier this month and are expecting him to make an immediate impact in their backfield next fall.

The Pirates needed to acquire a back in recruiting who could be ready to play next fall due to graduation losses that have claimed their top two running backs from 2010, Jonathan Williams and Giavanni Ruffin.

Bullock hopes to continue his success at ECU after turning down offers from Arkansas State, Hawaii, Memphis, New Mexico State, North Texas and Utah State.

“I'm going to bring a winning attitude, a team player, explosiveness, a great work ethic and absolute excitement,'' Bullock said. “It really doesn't matter what type of offense it is, I'll work into it. I've played in the I formation, the spread, the pistol ... I can adjust.''

Bullock is used to making adjustments in football and life.

He grew up around the glitz and glamour of the Las Vegas strip as one of seven children (five girls, two boys). Bullock's father, Reggie Hicks, had been a star running back at Las Vegas' Chaparral High School. But Reggie himself didn't get his first chance to play the game until after his father died suddenly of a heart attack at age 33.

“I was in the sixth grade ... June 19, 2000,'' Bullock said. “My Dad passed away in 2000 and I decided to play football that year.''

Bullock's uncle, John, and mother, Mia Hicks, encouraged Reggie to try football to help him overcome his father's passing. He has played every down since inspired by his father's memory.

“I know he'd be excited if he were here at this time,'' said Bullock, who first played wide receiver for his Pop Warner squad, then wide receiver and safety before moving to running back his third season.

Bullock would develop so fast that he earned a starting job at running back for Weston High as a freshman. He'd play two more seasons for Weston before transferring to Las Vegas High for his senior year.

The final prep statistics for Bullock are impressive. He finished with 4,242 yards rushing and 49 touchdowns. He also added 951 yards and 11 scores receiving and was all-league three times on defense, too.

College football powers like Alabama, LSU, Oregon, Florida State and Florida all came to Las Vegas to recruit Bullock by his senior year. But he failed to qualify academically and couldn't accept any offers from those schools.

Instead, Bullock headed off to Arizona Western where he was a starter from the moment he walked onto campus.

“He made a play that freshman year that sticks in everyone's mind,'' Minnick said. “We're running power. He took a step in the A gap, popped back out and then back into the A gap again. He went back inside for a 40-yard touchdown run.

“That's the signature play we all kind of remember about Reggie.''

Bullock completed his two-year career at Arizona Western with 3,004 career rushing yards and 37 touchdowns. He capped his stay by earning national JUCO offensive player of the year honors for gaining 1,707 yards on 272 carries and scoring 20 touchdowns as a sophomore.

Numerous schools were recruiting Bullock, but East Carolina wasn't one of them until early January. When the Pirates came calling the first time, he thought “East Carolina was in Charlotte. I had no idea where Greenville was located.''

Bullock received a strong recommendation about ECU's coaching staff from Arizona Western running backs coach John Norman. Norman played for Pirate head coach Ruffin McNeill and many of his assistants during his college career as a linebacker at Texas Tech.

“He (Norman) said it (ECU) would be a good fit for me,'' said Bullock, who immediately set up an official visit to Greenville on Jan. 14.

“I was kind of surprised. I didn't think it would be as much as it turned out to be,'' Bullock said. “The coaches talked about academics. They made it clear that academics come first, and I liked that. The facilities were outstanding. I just liked everything about it.''

Bullock will complete his Associate of Arts degree from Arizona Western in May and plans to arrive in Greenville this summer.

Minnick thinks Bullock is a perfect fit for ECU's passing offense.

“He's got great hands,'' Minnick said. “We used him in our five-receiver sets, and he played inside receiver for us a bunch. He can run the ball or catch it out of the backfield.

“East Carolina is getting a great steal. He's a great football player and a great person.''

E-mail Sammy Batten

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02/21/2011 04:01:02 AM


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