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