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Tracking the Stars of the Future

Football Recruiting Report
Monday, May 31, 2010

By Sammy Batten

Myrtle Beach star finds a fit in Greenville

By Sammy Batten
All rights reserved.

Donte Sumpter already knows what it’s like to play with a great quarterback in a passing offense.

That’s one of the reasons the East Carolina Pirates immediately became interested in the Myrtle Beach, SC, wide receiver when they received video highlights of Sumpter’s junior season. The result was a scholarship offer, which Sumpter accepted May 18th to become the third member of ECU’s recruiting Class of 2011.

The 6-foot, 175-pounder was on the receiving end of 78 passes from highly touted quarterback Everett Golston a year ago. Golston made a verbal commitment to North Carolina in early February.

Sumpter carried those receptions for 1,103 yards and 14 touchdowns as Myrtle Beach reached the state AAA championship game and finished with a 13-2 record.

The performance marked Sumpter's first full season on the varsity after playing on the junior varsity as a freshman and rotating between the JV and varsity squads as a sophomore.

Sumpter spent that sophomore year playing behind another outstanding receiver, Jamere Valentine, who was the Myrtle Beach Sun News Player of the Year and state AA player of the year in 2009. Valentine was a freshman at Georgia Southern this season.

“He had to wait his turn a bit,'' Myrtle Beach coach Mickey Wilson said. “But once his junior year rolled around he came through with a big year for us. He's the X position in our offense, and that's usually our best receiver. He's the guy we want to put pressure on the defense and he does a good job with that.

“It was a little bit of a surprise that he had such a big year. We knew he was capable, but to come out and have over 1,000 yards receiving was impressive for a guy stepping up from the JV level.''

The fact that Sumpter eventually emerged as a football star isn’t surprising, considering his pedigree. Four of his uncles have played major college football, including Levon Sumpter who lettered at Georgia Tech in 1978 and former Tennessee running back Nate Sumpter (1977-79). Older brother, James, played cornerback at NCAA Division III Averett College for two years.

“My family is big on football,’’ Donte Sumpter said. “Growing up, you couldn’t take the football out of my brother’s hands. Now you can’t take it out of my hands.’’

Wilson said Sumpter’s recruitment began slowly because of his sudden emergence as a junior. But once schools got a chance to see the highlight video Wilson sent out in March, his telephone starting ringing with interested schools.

East Carolina, however, was the first school to step out and invite Sumpter to campus for a visit. He traveled to Greenville on March 12 and was immediately impressed by the school, the coaching staff and the Pirates' new offensive style.

“I just loved it all,’’ Sumpter said. “I felt like the campus lifestyle was perfect for me. It kind of reminds me of home.

“But what really influenced my decision when I went up there to visit was the coaching staff. They talked about wanting me to come and play football, but mostly they were interested in getting me ready for life. That really influenced me to go there.’’

It didn’t hurt that ECU will be employing a spread offense that emphasizes the passing game.

“It’s the same thing we run here,’’ Sumpter said. “I think it gives me an advantage over some guys who may run a pro-style offense. I’m used to most of the routes because we run them down here.’’

Wilson calls Sumpter a “relentless worker,’’ who always gives “100 percent.’’

“He’s the type who wants to stay after practice and run extra routes, or he’ll do extra reps on the weight room when he’s working out,’’ Wilson said. “He works his tail off to be a good football player.’’

Sumpter agrees with that assessment, and adds that his strength may be his ability to operate in the open field.

“I think I’m at my best in the open field, which is why I was able to score 14 touchdowns last year,’’ Sumpter said. “But about that 14 touchdowns ... I was upset about that because I was shooting for 20. I didn’t feel like 14 was enough. My goal this year will be 20 again.’’

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08/06/2010 01:56:02 AM


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