Relations File Photos)
Bonesville features writer Ron Cherubini
conducted one-on-one interviews with East Carolina
offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley (left) and
Pirate defensive boss Brian Mitchell (right).
Links to the wide-ranging Q&A sessions:
Lincoln Riley Q&A
Brian Mitchell Q&A
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East Carolina added one
dynamic athlete to its recruiting Class of 2012 over the weekend, but
also lost a significant prospect.
The Pirates received a
verbal commitment from Midlothian, VA, defensive back Deshaun Amos while
he was still on campus last Sunday completing an official recruiting
visit to Greenville. About 24 hours later, ECU lost Flowery Branch, GA,
quarterback Kanler Coker to in-state rival North Carolina.
The 6-4, 217-pound Coker
had given an oral commitment to the Pirates back in December. But when
UNC's new offensive coordinator Blake Anderson visited Flowery Branch
High School earlier this month in hopes of talking with the team's
Oklahoma State-bound receiver, C.J. Curry, he got a glimpse at Coker's
senior highlight film.
Coker threw for 2,809
yards and 31 touchdowns after transferring to Flowery Branch for his
senior season. He amassed 3,800 yards of total offense, according to
Coach Chris Griffin.
Griffin said Coker
struggled with the decision to switch his commitment because the ECU
staff had done such a great job recruiting.
“He's the type of kid who
doesn't like to disappoint anybody,'' Griffin said. “Until North
Carolina came into the picture, he was totally committed to East
Carolina. They are good people there at ECU. So I know it was tough on
Coker told the ECU
coaching staff personally in a phone call about his decision.
“I'll say the East
Carolina coaches were really good to me,'' he said. “It wasn't the best
situation, but at the same time they wished me the best. They hoped that
I have a bright future and wished me the best of luck. I told them the
The loss of Coker was
offset somewhat by the addition of Amos, a versatile three-sport athlete
who earned All-Dominion District football honors at three positions as a
senior for Manchester High School. Amos was a first-team selection at
wide receiver and kick returner, and a second-team pick as a defensive
ECU was the first school
to offer a scholarship to the 6-1, 175-pounder, who has also starred for
the Manchester basketball and baseball teams. But it's on the football
field where Amos showed his promise as a freshman playing for the
A “family decision'' sent
him to the sidelines as a sophomore, and that was followed by an
injury-plagued junior season. The setbacks caused Amos to have limited
exposure to college scouts entering his senior season.
“We saw him play in middle
school, and we knew he had potential,'' Manchester coach Tom Hall said.
“But what happens is as a sophomore playing three sports, sometimes a
kid gets overwhelmed, and his family gets overwhelmed. So the family
made the decision for him not to play his sophomore season.
“Then he gets injured his
junior year, so he flew under a lot of (college) people's radar. But I
was always telling (college) coaches, 'If this kid steps up and plays
the way I know he can, he's going to be something special. And he was.
His senior year was incredible.''
Griffin said Amos scored
12 touchdowns on the season — five on offense, five on special teams and
two on defense.
The performance didn't
just happen. Amos spent much of the time between his junior and senior
years training hard in preparation for the 2011 season.
“He bought into everything
we did in our off season program,'' Griffin said. “He didn't miss a
single play his senior year. He was the only kid on our team who played
both ways full time.''
Amos developed a knack of
making big plays for Manchester when it needed them most. Perhaps the
biggest of those came in a 21-13 early season upset of rival L.C. Bird.
Bird was riding a streak of 33 straight district victories, but was
deadlocked 0-0 with Manchester at halftime.
Bird seized momentum early
in the third period with a long touchdown drive.
“It pretty much took our
momentum away,'' Griffin said. “But then they kicked off to us. Deshaun
returned the kick 80 yards for a touchdown and we took it from there.
“In our biggest games, he
had the biggest plays.''
The Pirates are hoping
Amos can continue his big plays next fall playing cornerback or safety,
both of which he played in high school. ECU loses both its starters at
cornerback and one at safety to graduation.
“I think one of the things
that is attractive about Deshaun is he's a tall, long kid with great
speed who could play cover corner or the free safety spot,'' Griffin
said. “He's excited about getting to East Carolina. He's already talking
about going up this summer and taking classes, so he can be ready to
compete next fall.''