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Tracking the Stars of the Future

Football Recruiting Report
Thursday, August 19, 2010

By Sammy Batten

Early courtship by ECU mattered to Hinson

By Sammy Batten
All rights reserved.

Stewart Hinson has never had much trouble attracting attention.

Frank Ambrose, the head football coach at Piedmont High School in Monroe, NC, remembers when Hinson was a mere sophomore and all he had to do was point him out to visiting college recruiters to pique their interest.

“They (recruiters) were on him right away,'' Ambrose said. “Anytime they see a 6-foot-6 kid they're going to be interested. You can't teach that, especially that big frame and long arms.''

East Carolina was the very first to take that interest to a more serious level, offering the now 6-foot-7, 285-pound offensive lineman a scholarship after his junior season. Hinson accepted the offer on July 2 to become the second offensive lineman to pick the Pirates along with Tre Robertson from Roxboro.

Hinson was already a member of the Piedmont varsity when Ambrose arrived to take over as head coach in 2008, but was playing tight end. He started 2009 at that position as well before moving to the offensive line out of necessity.

“He was a real lanky kid,'' Ambrose said. “He started his junior year weighing about 225 pounds. He looked like a center for the basketball team.

“But injuries and how well he was blocking caused us to move him inside because we knew he'd be recruited for college as a tackle. He just ate it up. He loved it. And he just kept getting bigger. The boy can put away some food.''

In addition to his duty at tight end and offensive tackle last season, Hinson also played defensive end, was the Panthers long snapper and toiled on the kickoff return unit. He produced 22 tackles, seven tackles for loss and two sacks on defense.

But it's as an offensive tackle that Ambrose sees Hinson's future at the college level.

“He's got a tremendous upside,'' Ambrose said. “He's a huge individual. He's a senior, but he's young. He just turned 17, so he's still filling out that big body. That's a big plus.

“He's also got really good feet. I think it really helped him in that area to have started out as a tight end.

“To show you what kind of athlete he is, we play a team called West Stanly. They are just a strong, powerful team, sort of mirror image of us. They are hard nosed and like to run the ball. Well, we ran a toss sweep against them to his side with an unbalanced (line) look. He pinned the defensive end, then went to the next level and picked up the safety. We ended up scoring.''

But Hinson's talents don't end with his physical abilities, according to Ambrose.

“The other thing, and we use him as an example for the other kids on our team who want to be recruited, is that he has great grades,'' he said. “He can't miss getting into school. He made it easy for schools to recruit him.

“He's a great kid in the locker room, too. He's a natural leader. I think he's done it vocally and by example. We lost in the first round of the state playoffs last year, and the first day we had the weight room open he was right there. He hasn't missed a day since. Our kids pick up on that and everyone follows him in there.''

Hinson is the second Piedmont player to make a verbal commitment to a major-college program. Defensive end Lucas Fisher made a pledge to Duke in early July.

The Blue Devils, North Carolina and N.C. State were also showing interest in Hinson before he chose the Pirates. Ambrose said there's no looking back for Hinson.

“East Carolina was the one that recruited him from the get go, and (that) says a lot to a kid,'' Ambrose said. “They took time to get to know him. I think that showed Stewart a lot of how they'll treat him down the road. He knows he's going to be a Pirate and he's excited about it.''

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08/19/2010 02:55:07 AM


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