Bonesville: The Authoritative Independent Voice of East Carolina
Daily News & Features from East Carolina, Conference USA and Beyond

Mobile Alpha Roundup Daily Beat Recruiting The Seasons Multimedia Historical Data Pirate Time Machine SportByte™ Weather





Put your ad message in front of 1,000's and 1,000's of Pirate fans. Call 252.354.2215 for flexible options & rates.




Tracking the Stars of the Future

Football Recruiting Report
Tuesday, April 25, 2012

By Sammy Batten

Pirates' long pursuit of Ashley pays off

ECU courting other stars from powerhouse HHS program


By Sammy Batten
All rights reserved.

View the Mobile Alpha version of this page.

Jim Bob Bryant has seen a lot of quality football players come and go at Havelock (NC) High School, and he knew he had another good one in Malcolm Ashley back in the fall of 2009.

But even though Ashley was a big, promising freshman junior varsity lineman, Bryant kicked him out of the program.

“In middle school he was allowed to do what he wanted to do because he was the best player down there,'' Bryant said. “But we have a set of rules here regarding how many practices you can miss. By the sixth week of the season he had missed the required number of days, so I kicked him off the team.

“I did that to teach him about work ethic, the importance of practice and commitment.''

Ashley sat outside the fence surrounding the practice field every day after his dismissal, watching the Rams run through their drills. When the season ended, he asked Bryant for a second chance.

“He hasn't missed a practice since,'' Bryant said. “He's been a joy to coach.''

Ashley became a varsity starter as a sophomore, playing on the offensive and defensive lines. East Carolina immediately recognized his talent and offered a scholarship.

The 6-foot-4, 245-pounder finally accepted the offer last week when ECU offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley dropped by the school on a recruiting visit.

“Lincoln Riley did a great job recruiting him,'' said Bryant, who attended ECU and played high school football in Williamston for the Pirates director of high school relations, Harold Robinson. “He felt like was a part of their team even before he became part of it. ..."

East Carolina was Ashley's only offer, but other schools like Clemson, Maryland, N.C. State, North Carolina and South Carolina had been showing interest. He becomes the third member of ECU's recruiting Class of 2013, joining linebackers Jamieon Moss of Elizabeth City and Tristan Mumford from Statesville.

Ashley has become a mainstay of Havelock's program and last season helped the Rams achieve the ultimate goal — becoming state 3-A champions. The 6-foot-4, 245-pound tight end-defensive end was named to the All-Coastal 3-A Conference and All-New Bern Sun Journal All-Area squads on defense where he made 58 tackles and two sacks.

The Pirates have recruited Ashley as an athlete who could wind up playing on the offensive or defensive lines, according to Bryant. His combination of speed (4.89 seconds in the 40-yard dash), size and strength (290 bench press, 490 squat) make him a candidate to play defensive end or offensive guard.

Bryant believes Ashley's best potential is on the offensive line.

“I'm an offensive line coach, so I would like to have him there because I know how good he is,'' Bryant said. “East Carolina offered him after seeing a highlight tape on which he was making blocks 20 or 30 yards down the field. I think that convinced them he is a special player.''

Ashley's versatility doesn't end on the line. His most memorable play during Havelock's drive to the state title came on the punt team.

“He loves contact,'' Bryant said. “In our game against South Central last year, he hit their punt returner and knocked him five yards in the air down the field. It's incredible to watch on film.

“He usually drew a double- or triple-team when he played on the defensive line for us. Because of that, our linebackers were free to make a lot of tackles. He is just hard to block, and not just because of his size. He's got great arm length, he's quick and he's powerful.''

The Pirates are also in hot pursuit of Havelock's multi-purpose athlete, Pharoh Cooper. The 5-11, 184-pound Cooper starred at wide receiver, defensive back and on special teams as a junior for the Rams. He caught 65 passes for 1,285 yards and 14 touchdowns on offense, had 41 tackles and five interceptions on defense and averaged 17.7 yards on 27 punt returns.

East Carolina was the first school to extend an offer to Cooper, but N.C. State and South Carolina have since offered.

A third Havelock player Bryant said has been offered by ECU is running back Derrell Scott, who will only be a junior next season. Scott, a 5-11, 175-pounder, rushed for 2,500 yards and scored 25 touchdowns during his rookie varsity season as a sophomore.

Even though he hasn't even started his junior year at Havelock, Scott already has scholarship offers from the Pirates, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia Tech.

With all that talent returning for 2012, Bryant is expecting another run at the state championship.

“We have 10 starters back on defense and six on offense,'' Bryant said. “On paper, we've got a chance to have another successful season.''

E-mail Sammy Batten

Sammy Batten's Archives

04/25/2012 03:03:53 PM


©2001-2002-2003-2004-2005-2006-2007-2008-2009-2010-2011-2012-2013 All rights reserved.
Articles, logos, graphics, photos, audio files, video files and other content originated on this site are the proprietary property of
None of the articles, logos, graphics, photos, audio files, video files or other content originated on this site may be reproduced without written permission.
This site is not affiliated with East Carolina University. View's Privacy Policy. Advertising contact: 252-349-3280; Editorial contact:; 252-444-1905.