ECU is taking full advantage of its second bye week of the season as far as recruiting goes. With signing day 2014 only a couple of months down the road, the Pirate coaching staff is beginning to step up its game.
Head coach Ruffin McNeill knows recruiting is essential to any football program.
“We work hard on recruiting here,” said ECU head coach Ruffin McNeill. “It’s a major lifeline of any football program and we’ll attack it each day. It’s tougher during a game week, but every day we’ll attack some part of recruiting.”
Every season brings change and 2013 brought with it an additional bye week. Whether it’s to help keep players safe or simply extend the season, McNeill is an adamant supporter of the extra time for recruiting.
“The open week gives us a chance to recruit even more,” McNeill said. “We’ve been talking about official visits and where I’ll be going during the contact period. (Director of football operations) Brian Overton and (inside receivers coach/recruiting coordinator) Donnie Kirkpatrick plan scenarios ahead of time for when I can get on the road. Us coaches are bulldogs and we get after recruiting.”
Like McNeill, inside receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Donnie Kirkpatrick mentioned the time is being put to good use early on.
“We’ve already used it a lot,” Kirkpatrick said. “Monday is usually a full day of game film for opponents, this Monday we used it for 10-12 hours of just watching recruiting film. We’re going back and re-evaluating kids we’ve already seen and getting new film in now that it’s far along enough to watch seniors. We have really put in a lot of time and got on the phones to talk with kids. Another thing we’re doing is getting coaches out of practice (Wednesday) night. We’ll have four coaches on the road Thursday and all nine of our coaches on the road Friday.”
Kirkpatrick mentioned he was skeptical at first about the extra bye week, but has since changed his mind. Overall he thinks the pros outweigh the cons.
“I didn’t (like it) at first because it extends the season,” said Kirkpatrick. “But it has been a really good thing for recruiting. We like to watch kids on film, we like to talk to their coaches and people in the community, but nothing beats going to see a kid personally. Watching them play and seeing him on the sideline and how he reacts is really going to help us recruit better.”
ECU landed a late 2013 commit in Lexington (N.C.) running back Marquez Grayson. A standout at running back in high school, Grayson collected eleven offers during his recruitment.
The talented factor-back chose the Pirates over South Carolina, Tennessee, Miami and six other Atlantic Coast Conference schools. He’s a perfect example of how Ruffin McNeill’s current system is paying off.
“It was a lot of different things, but the main reason is coach Ruff,” the 6-foot-1, 200-pound Grayson said. “I love that guy to death, I love the community and I love what he’s doing here. My running back coach told me I need to develop so that’s why I’m red-shirting. I’m working to get better every day.”
Grayson had an impressive fall camp for ECU and nearly earned himself playing time as a true freshman.