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Tracking the Stars of the Future

Football Recruiting Report
Wednesday, April 7, 2010

By Sammy Batten

Air Raid offense lures Havelock star

By Sammy Batten
All rights reserved.

Anyone wondering what kind of athlete Ruffin McNeill will be recruiting for East Carolina got a peak last weekend when the first-year head coach beat out three Atlantic Coast Conference schools and one Southeastern Conference program for a top in-state prospect.

Danny Webster Jr., a multi-purpose player from Havelock, NC, turned down scholarships to play for Georgia Tech, North Carolina, N.C. State and South Carolina in favor of an offer from McNeill and the Pirates. Webster came to the spontaneous decision after watching ECU's first full-scale scrimmage under McNeill on April 3 at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

“I wasn't planning to make up my mind this early at all,'' Webster said. “I was going to be open to anything. But I attended practice on Friday and then met with the coaches. Saturday morning I got up and hung out with the coaches again and watched film. Then I went into Coach McNeill's office and talked about the offense. I just wanted to tell him I wanted to commit right then, but I really didn't want to make a decision too early.

“Well, through the whole scrimmage I was thinking it over. I finally realized I couldn't think of myself playing anywhere else. After the scrimmage I went back and gave them (coaches) my verbal commitment.''

Webster is the second player to join the ECU class, following Durham Hillside linebacker Treshawn Council who committed on March 31.

Council had yet to receive any other scholarship offers. Webster, however, was offered as a quarterback by Georgia Tech, while North Carolina, N.C. State and South Carolina wanted him as a defensive back.

The Pirates plan to convert the high school quarterback-defensive back to wide receiver. The new offense being installed at ECU by coordinator Lincoln Riley utilizes a large number of receivers, so that position has become a priority in recruiting.

“They guaranteed me early playing time, which, of course, was real big for me,’’ Webster said. “Any high school kid wants a chance to play early at the collegiate level. I’ve seen some of the games he (Riley) coached at Texas Tech. I know his offense works and I’m just flattered he wants me there to play in it.’’

Webster has grown up around the game. His father, Danny, was a college fullback and punter at Chowan University. The elder Webster had several tryouts with NFL teams and was was recommended for NFL Europe, but declined the opportunity.

It became a family ritual in the Webster household for father and son to spend Sundays watching NFL football together on television.

“That’s how I spent my Sundays growing up. Me, my father and his friends sitting on the couch in our den watching football,’’ Webster said. “I just fell in love with the sport.’’

Webster went from watching to playing, starting out in the local recreation league at his father’s old position, fullback. He moved to quarterback during his second rec season before shifting back to running back as a middle school player.

But when the Havelock program shifted from a run-oriented Wing-T system to the spread under head coach Jim Bob Bryant, Webster was moved back to quarterback and has remained there since. He’s started on the Havelock varsity at quarterback and safety since his sophomore season.

The 5-foot-11, 170-pounder completed 174 of 302 passes for 2,722 yards and 25 touchdowns as a junior. He also scored 22 times rushing and accumulated 1,426 yards on 200 carries.

Defensively, Webster was also a major contributor on a Havelock team that reached the state 3-A semifinals, making 68 tackles and six interceptions. He returned two of those picks for touchdowns.

The performance earned Webster Coastal 3-A Conference Player of the Year honors.

Despite having seen little action at wide receiver, Webster is anxious to play the position in college.

“Ever since I came into high school I wanted to play receiver,’’ he said. “But with the offense we run, our coach feels I can help the team better at quarterback. I do get to play a little receiver every now and then. But I knew my best chance to be successful at the next level would be at receiver or in the secondary. I knew it wouldn’t be as a quarterback.’’

So what does Webster bring to the table as a receiver?

“I think one thing I’m really looking forward to being able to do is block,’’ Webster said. “That would probably be my favorite thing to help our team score, just by blocking.’’

Our guess is that in Riley’s offense, Webster will be doing a lot more than blocking.

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Sammy Batten's Archives

08/06/2010 01:56:05 AM


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