Football Recruiting Report
Monday, March 9, 2015

By Sammy Batten

Long-term recruiting effort lands tackle


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By Sammy Batten
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A connection with East Carolina that didn't originally pay off for the Pirates helped produce an important late addition to the football recruiting Class of 2015.

Junior college defensive tackle Darius Commissiong became the 19th member of the ECU Class of '15 on February 26 when he signed a national letter of intent. A 6-foot-1, 270-pounder for Iowa Western's national junior college runner-ups last season, Commissiong chose the Pirates over offers from Georgia State, Idaho, Iowa State, Louisiana-Monroe, Memphis, Middle Tennessee State, Southern Miss and Troy.

The Pirates and a whole different set of programs also pursued Commissiong heavily between July 2011 and May 2012 while he was playing at Bishop McNamara High School located just outside his hometown of Washington, D.C.

Born and raised in the D.C. area, Commissiong had been focused on creating a football career for himself since picking up the sport at age 7.

“I come from a very athletic family,'' Commissiong said during a telephone interview last week from Iowa Western's campus in Council Bluffs, which is just outside of Omaha. “Both my grandparents were athletes. Everybody on my mother's side played football or basketball.

“My mother put me in football around 7, and I was always pretty good at it. Since I started playing my mentality has always been that I was going to play college football. It's been my goal since I was a kid to do that, and play in the NFL.''

Commissiong had transferred from well-known DeMatha High to Bishop McNamara prior to his sophomore season and immediately became a full-time starter on the varsity football team. Syracuse became the first major program to extend a scholarship offer in July following his sophomore year and others like Boston College, Duke, Georgia Tech, Iowa, Maryland, N.C. State, North Carolina, Purdue, Syracuse, Virginia and Wake Forest would follow.

But ECU beat all but Syracuse to the punch when it came to offering Commissiong a scholarship.

“They were my second offer after Syracuse,'' Commissiong said. “(Defensive line) Coach (Marc) Yellock came and sat down with me and another teammate they were recruiting heavily. I also went down to Coach (Ruffin) McNeill's clinic and had a discussion with him as well. I had a good relationship with both (Yellock and McNeill).

“But at that moment I was convinced the best place for me was another school.''

That school was Georgia Tech, where Commissiong verbally committed in May 2012 after a junior season in which he made 12 quarterback sacks and averaged eight tackles a game. He would wind up signing with the Yellow Jackets in February 2013.

Commissiong's time in Atlanta was cut short when, after a red-shirt freshman season in 2013, he was dismissed from the program in July 2014 for a violating Georgia Tech's student-athlete code of conduct.

The dismissal led Commissiong to Council Bluffs where he revived his career in one season.

Playing for an Iowa Western team that finished 11-1 and reached the junior college national championship game, Commissiong made 63 total tackles, 3.5 sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss. The performance earned him second-team all-league honors and again had many college recruiters vying for his services.

ECU's Yellock had continued to follow Commissiong's career even after he signed with Georgia Tech. When Yellock heard Commissiong had transferred to Iowa Western, he quickly re-established contact.

“Coach Yellock reached out to me just after our first game and told me they were going to recruit me,'' Commissiong said. “Once they offered again, they were pretty high on my list because of the fact I was already familiar with them. Plus, I knew it was a good program and close to home, which I wanted to be.''

An official visit to Greenville just before national signing day in early February convinced Commissiong he wanted to be a Pirate.

“Coach McNeill and the whole staff are very genuine,'' he said. “It's a very good academic school. I knew I'd be able to go there and get a degree, and I know I can come in and be a very good asset to the (football) team. I expect to compete for a starting position from the first day I'm there.

“My trademark is getting after the quarterback. I think I'm be an asset to them automatically as a third-down pass rusher. But I can contribute in the run game as well.''

Commissiong isn't likely to arrive in Greenville until July. He has to complete requirements for an Associate of Arts degree at Iowa Western before he's eligible to enroll at ECU.

“I'm taking online classes now because I have to get the associate's degree before I go there (ECU),'' he said. “But I should be done taking those so I can be there in July.''

Although Commissiong has benefited greatly from his time at Iowa Western, he won't mind leaving the harsh Iowa winter behind.

“Football-wise, academically, it's been a good experience,'' he said. “We finished number two in the nation and played in the national championship game.

“But the weather here has been a little bit of an adjustment. I remember one practice I wore a trench coat and jacket underneath my shoulder pads to keep warm. I couldn't feel my toes.''

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03/10/2015 03:14 AM