Pirates bolster defense on national signing day
East Carolina focused on restocking its defensive line and secondary with its latest recruiting haul on national signing day.
The Pirates unveiled a 24-player class on Wednesday, with 14 coming on the defensive side. East Carolina brought in five signees on both the line and the secondary, with four more coming at linebacker for a unit making the transition to a new coordinator.
"We feel that the edge — whether it's the rush guys to apply pressure up front or the back end (at cornerback) — is very vital," said coach Ruffin McNeill, who is heading into his fourth season. "We felt like we had to address that."
The Pirates had transitioned to a 3-4 defense under Brian Mitchell, but East Carolina allowed at least 40 points in five games. McNeill fired Mitchell as defensive coordinator and hired Rick Smith, who McNeill said will use multiple alignments.
The Pirates also sought to bolster themselves up front on offensive with four offensive linemen, including January enrollee Brandon Smith (6-foot-8, 330 pounds) of Kernersville, N.C. East Carolina had just two seniors on its two-deep depth chart for the New Orleans Bowl, so McNeill is hoping that this group can develop over time and improve depth.
"They're bringing in size, great footwork and the potential to be really special there," McNeill said. "If you're strong up front offensively and defensively, that gives you a chance to be in every football game."
Eleven of East Carolina's signees are from North Carolina, while four are from Virginia.
East Carolina has three other recruits who enrolled in January: defensive lineman Randall Anderson of New Castle, Del.; quarterback Kurt Benkert of Cape Coral, Fla.; and linebacker Tristan Mumford of Statesville, N.C.
Football signees announced Wednesday by East Carolina, with name, position, height, weight, school and hometown:
Randall Anderson, dl, 6-4, 245, Fork Union MA, New Castle, Del.
Malcom Ashley, dl, 6-4, 260, Havelock (N.C.) HS
Demage Bailey, dl, 6-5, 250, Clayton (N.C.) HS
Kurt Benkert, qb, 6-3, 205, Island Coast HS, Cape Coral, Fla.
DaShawn Benton, db, 6-0, 175, Grady HS, Atlanta
Trevon Brown, wr, 6-3, 190, New Hanover HS, Wilmington, N.C.
Devaris Brunson, lb, 6-1, 210, Lake City (S.C.) HS
A.J. Coplon, db, 5-11, 175, Havelock (N.C.) HS
Kirk Donaldson, de, 6-3, 250, Vance HS, Charlotte, N.C.
Darren Dowdell, te, 6-4, 225, Grady HS, Atlanta
Davon Grayson, wr, 6-2, 175, Kings Fork HS, Suffolk, Va.
Patrick Green, lb, 6-2, 200, North Forsyth HS, Winston-Salem, N.C.
Isaiah Jones, wr, 6-1, 170, Stephen F. Austin, Austin, Tex.
Terrell Lane, rb, 5-11, 225, Hutchinson CC, Norton, Kan.
Christian Matau, ol, 6-3, 315, New Bern (N.C.) HS
Demetri McGill, dl, 6-1, 300, Ocean Lakes HS, Virginia Beach, Va.
Tristan Mumford, lb, 6-1, 225, Statesville (N.C.) HS
Mike Myers, dl, 6-0, 285, Goose Creek (S.C.) HS
Travis Phillips, db, 5-11, 175, Patrick Henry HS, Montpelier, Va.
Travon Simmons, db, 5-10, 170, Hillgrove HS, Powder Springs, Ga.
Brandon Smith, ol, 6-8, 330, East Forsyth HS, Kernersville, N.C.
Xavier Smith, db, 6-2, 190, Wakefield HS, Raleigh, N.C.
Marquise Wallace, ol, 6-5, 305, Lackawanna CC, Henrico, Va.
Larry Williams, ol, 6-5, 290, Laney HS, Wilmington, N.C.