Defense Adds Depth
Rick Smith's Return After coaching USF for the last three seasons, Rick Smith returned to East Carolina on Jan. 18, 2013 as the defensive coordinator and secondary coach. Smith held these same positions from 2005 to 2009; a time which produced two C-USA championships, four-straight bowl appearances and back-to-back defensive statistical titles. During that five year tenure with the Pirates, Smith raised the bar, producing a unit that finished the 2005 season as one of the nation's top twenty pass defenses. In his next season Smith followed up his defense's top twenty finish with a Pirate secondary whose four starters earned All-Conference USA honors while setting East Carolina season records for most interceptions returned as touchdowns. Rick Smith has a proven ability to produce defensive studs where ever he has coached. The 2013 recruiting class is filled with talent that should fit well with the multiple defensive packages Rick Smith will run. Smith will have his work cut out for him as the Pirates finished the 2011-2012 season giving up 31.6 points a game to opponents; a statistic that cost previous defensive coordinator Brian Mitchell his position. After last season's woes, this year's recruiting class emphasized building depth on the defensive side of the ball. Future Talent Lucas Thompson, S, 6-1, 190, Winter Garden, Fla. Safety Lucas Thompson signed with ECU in 2012 but failed to appear at fall camp, resulting in him sitting out last season. Thompson finished his high school career as an Under Armour All-American while also being ranked as the No.7 safety in the nation by ESPN. Lucas has the potential to develop into a game-changing defender at the college level; he turned down offers from Miami, South Carolina and others to come to ECU. After watching his recruiting tape it will be interesting to see what schemes Rick Smith draws up for this high caliber talent who should lead the way among the five defensive backs ECU signed. Demetri McGill, DL, 6-1, 300, Virginia Beach, Va. Demetri McGill is a talented defensive lineman who will add even more depth to a defensive front whose ability to stop the run last season kept them in multiple games. In his senior season McGill had 112 total tackles, 19 for loss, 12 sacks, a blocked punt and two blocked field goals. Demetri is just one of the five talented defensive linemen ECU signed in this class. The Pirates return DL/LB Derrell Johnson next season, who along with McGill and others should serve as a run-stopping wrecking crew for Rick Smith. The Pirates have done a good job of stockpiling young talent on their defensive line with the 2013 class, giving Rick Smith a multitude of talent to work with. Devarius Brunson, LB, 6-1, 210, Lake City, S.C. Devarius Brunson, a four star prospect who ranked among the top twenty linebackers nationally according to Scout.com, highlights the three line backers signed by ECU in this class. As a junior Brunson set a school single-season record with 172 total tackles, including 18 for loss, 10 sacks and 8 forced fumbles. Before signing with ECU Devarius considered offers from Syracuse and NC State. Rick Smith has a gifted linebacker in Brunson who has a 40-yard dash time of 4.47 seconds, adding another level of speed to an already talented linebacking unit led by Jeremy Grove.