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Tracking the Stars of the Future

Football Recruiting Report
Friday, August 12, 2011

By Sammy Batten

Furr sets sail from Chapel Hill to Greenville

Bucking the Star System

The Tenth Anniversary Edition of Bonesville The Magazine has rolled off the presses. Both the traditional print and online Flash versions of the magazine may be ordered through links elsewhere on this page. Among the wide-ranging features in its 100 pages is an eye-opening report by Fayetteville Observer and Bonesville columnist Sammy Batten on East Carolina's propensity for out-witting the so-called recruiting experts by attracting players that excel beyond their "star system" projections. — Editor


By Sammy Batten
All rights reserved.

Hunter Furr has experienced football from a fan's perspective in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, but someday in the not-so-distant future he plans to have a view from the field.

Furr, who never really got an opportunity to showcase his running skills the last two seasons at North Carolina, announced Thursday his plans to enroll at East Carolina for the fall semester. The 6-foot, 210-pound running back will have to sit out the coming season under NCAA transfer rules, but will be eligible to join the Pirates for the 2012 and 2013 season.

The decision to leave UNC-Chapel Hill was announced by Furr on August 3, just days after the Tar Heels unexpectedly fired Butch Davis as their head coach. Furr said Thursday evening that Davis's situation was no factor in his departure.

“That's not why I left. I think that was clear,'' Furr said. “I just wanted an opportunity to play.''

East Carolina provided that opportunity in a swift process that began with Furr's former high school coach helping find other options once he decided to leave Chapel Hill. Furr piled up 6,187 yards and scored a Forsyth County record 94 touchdowns in a four-year career at Mount Tabor High School in Winston-Salem.

Although listed as North Carolina's No. 2 tailback behind senior Ryan Houston coming out of spring practice, it appeared Furr would have to fight to hang onto that position this fall with the emergence of redshirt freshman Gio Bernard. Furr appeared in 24 games as a special teams player in his first two years with the Tar Heels, but had only logged eight carries for 35 yards in the backfield.

Mount Tabor coach Laymarr Marshall began contacting other schools when Furr opted to leave North Carolina. Elon, Marshall and West Virginia were some of the schools under consideration by Furr.

“It all happened really quickly,'' Furr said. “My coach at Mount Tabor got in contact with them (ECU coaching staff). They looked at my transcript. Then I went and took a visit down there, and they (coaches) told me I had a spot on the team. I made up my mind today and decided it was East Carolina.''

East Carolina is no stranger to Furr. He's played against the Pirates the last two seasons and has enjoyed games at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium as a spectator.

“It's such a great atmosphere and East Carolina is a big-time football school,'' Furr said. “I think the coaches there are going to give me a fair shot to play. It will be tough sitting out this season. But I'll do all I can to help the team this fall, then come out next spring and compete for a starting job.''

One of the selling points for East Carolina was a relationship Furr already had with the Pirates new assistant athletic director for strength and conditioning, Jeff Connors. Connors spent the last 10 years in a similar capacity at North Carolina before accepting the position at ECU in January.

Furr worked closely in Chapel Hill with both Connors and new ECU strength and conditioning assistant, Robert Tate.

“I had a great relationship with Coach Connors and also with Coach Tate,'' Furr said. “I have nothing but respect for them. I really took it hard when they left (UNC). It will be good to be back working with those guys.''

Furr is also acquainted with ECU linebacker Justin Dixon, who was once a North Carolina recruit, and Pirate wide receiver Andrew Bodenheimer. Furr and Bodenheimer were high school rivals.

East Carolina has stocked its roster with some solid backs for the 2011 season, including junior college transfer Reggie Bullock, redshirt freshman Alex Owah, and sophomores Michael Dobson and Torrance Hunt. Hunt and Dobson were at the top of the depth chart at the end of spring practice, but no one has been declared the starter yet this preseason.

Furr believes his skills will fit nicely into ECU's offense, which requires its backs to both run and catch the football.

“I think it's a very running back-friendly offense,'' Furr said. “You can make a lot of plays catching the ball out of the backfield. (Running backs) Coach (Clay) McGuire told me one year at Texas Tech they had a running back make 70 catches.''

The offensive style plays to one of Furr's best strengths — speed.

He was one of the fastest players on the Tar Heels' roster the last two years and in high school was a state 4-A champion in the 100- and 200-meter dashes as well as the long jump. Furr was fast enough to also compete for the North Carolina track squad.

But Furr's focus at ECU will be football.

“My No. 1 goal is to be the starting tailback,'' he said.

Furr said he'll travel to Greenville on Monday to enroll for classes.

E-mail Sammy Batten

Sammy Batten's Archives

08/12/2011 03:25:05 AM


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