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Football Recruiting Report
Tuesday, April 17, 2012

By Sammy Batten

Statesville star Mumford goes with his heart

Future Pirate linebacker excels at multiple positions

By Sammy Batten
All rights reserved.

Randall Gusler was about to conduct the first day of football practice at Statesville (NC) High School in August 2008 when he noticed a potential player standing on the hill above field watching.

“With his back to me, he was this great looking kid,'' Gusler said. “ The team was in the stretching line already, so I as I came up I said to him, 'Let's go!'

“He said, 'Coach, I can't. I'm only an eighth grader.' ''

Tristan Mumford already looked like a varsity player as an eighth grader. A year later, he would be one.

Mumford became a varsity starter on the Statesville varsity at defensive end as a freshman, moved to running back as a sophomore and wound up playing quarterback for the last half of his junior year. His athleticism and versatility resulted in scholarship offers from Duke, North Carolina and Wake Forest before he'd even played the 2011 season.

But longtime favorite East Carolina secured the pledge from Mumford last weekend while he visited campus for the annual spring scrimmage. Gusler said Monday that Mumford has been a Pirate fan since attending summer camp in Greenville as a freshman.

“He went there as a freshman and really enjoyed it,'' Gusler said. “Every time he would visit another school, one of the things that always came up afterward was, 'Coach, I still like East Carolina.' He and his father went up for the spring game and I guess they felt that was the right fit for him.''

The 6-foot-1 1/2, 235-pounder has been recruited to play inside linebacker at ECU, according to Gusler. But Mumford has the ability to play any number of positions, which he's done through the years for Statesville.

After starting at defensive end as a freshman, Mumford ran for 1,164 yards as a sophomore at running back. He was scheduled to carry the rushing load again last season when injuries sidelined the Greyhounds first- and second-team quarterbacks. The original starter was junior Carlis Parker, another college prospect who suffered torn knee ligaments in the season opener.

Gusler made the decision to shift Mumford to quarterback, where his first pass attempt went 55 yards for a touchdown. Mumford went on to complete 108 of 199 passes (54.3%) for 1,427 yards and 16 touchdowns, while also rushing 172 times for 750 yards and 10 more scores while leading the Greyhounds to a 6-2 record over their final eight games.

“Tristan was our only mainstay left on offense from the year before. Honestly, he was the only starter out of 11 still in position from the year before,'' Gusler said. “So our thought when our first quarterback was injured was, 'Let's keep him (Mumford) consistent. Let's leave him where he's been.'

“Then we got into a situation where our second quarterback went down with a high ankle sprain, so we moved him there the last eight games. He did a tremendous job at quarterback.

“That's the real neat thing about Tristan,'' he said. “He can play running back, quarterback, defensive end, nose guard, linebacker, and the truth be known, he's a heck of a long snapper and punter, too.''

Mumford becomes the second player to join the ECU recruiting Class of 2013, and is also the second linebacker. He joins Jamieon Moss from Northeastern High in Elizabeth City, NC, who made a verbal commitment to the Pirates in late March.

One of the biggest priorities for ECU in the Class of 2013 will be to sign a quarterback. In addition to Mumford, the Pirates have also been in hot pursuit of Parker, a 6-4, 185-pounder with offers from Duke, ECU, North Carolina, N.C. State, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest.

Parker passed for 1,792 yards and 11 scores, and rushed for 1,180 and 13 touchdowns as a sophomore quarterback.

“Athletically, he's another kid who could play anywhere on the football field,'' Gusler said of Parker. “He has phenomenal speed, great height and long arms. He could play quarterback, wide receiver or free safety. What really impresses me about him is that he's 6-4, 186 pounds and he still benches 315 pounds.''

Gusler said Parker is close to 100 percent recovered from his knee injury and that the college interest in him continues to grow.

“He has an interest in everyone right now,'' Gusler said. “He's very open. He has not told me one school over another or who he likes better. He's going to keep an open mind and look for an offense where he's going to fit in.''

And it can't hurt ECU's case that Mumford is already committed.

“We have a group of guys who will be seniors who have come up together,'' Gusler said. “They are a very close group and great kids.''

E-mail Sammy Batten

PAGE UPDATED 04/17/12 04:15 AM.

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