Success Off the Field
ECU Focuses on Improving Talent Despite Season Set Backs
4* Fr RB Samuel Baldwin III commits to ECU
If you've been following the Pirates at all this season, you will already know this is one to forget. At least on the field. Following the 62-41 defeat at home against conference rival Memphis, East Carolina sits at 1-5(1-3) on the season. While not mathematically eliminated from a bowl game appearance...at this point in time it is unlikely. Especially since they still have UCF and USF still on the schedule. A 1-1 split with this two teams would be a gift from the football gods as the rest of the schedule is manageable. But the way they have played over the last three weeks...a split would be hard to imagine. The coaching staff needs to change up what they have been doing.
The defense has suffered a tremendous loss, losing FS Andrew Oliver for the season with a Severe Ankle Fracture. While the team has not announced who the starter will be, true freshman Da'Quan Eason could possibly make his collegiate start. The only other possibility is redshirt sophomore SS Chase Swann. Ideally neither would start as one is still learning to play the college game, and the other is a special team player. However, then you are thin at the position, this is what they're left with.
Offensively, the team has gotten slightly better in recent weeks. Despite the brutal loss, the Pirates put up a season high 41 points. Liam Carver threw for over 300 yards and four touchdowns. He has started to look like the QB we expected him to be this season. While down, he continued to drive and move the ball downfield. It has however become clear that without a steady run game, his play will suffer. The run game has improved since So Xavier Stanley got promoted to the starter, but it hasn't been enough to take away some of the pressure off Carver. The team this season is desperately missing the legendary Eli Tuitama in the backfield. Despite the improvement in the run game, Stanley has only managed 196 yards in four starts at 3.77 yard per carry, and 2 touchdowns. That state line hurts even more when you consider it is an improvement.
5* Fr K Brian McLane and 4.5* Fr G Lucas Aragon Commits to ECU
Despite the on-field issues, the Pirates continue to succeed in recruiting future stars. Last season, they unexpectedly had one of the best recruiting classes in the country. They landed recruits like 5* QB Kyler Wilson, 4* DE Theo Guinn, 4.5* OLB Richard Jack and 4* SS Joshua Hollis. They picked up this season right where they left off last season. In a continued effort to build a powerful defense, they added future play makers 4.5* ILB Mario Redd, 4* OLB Oliver Hood, and of course a great steal from rival NC State, 4.5* DT Rory McLaughlin. 6 potential NFL players on that list. And all on defense. If they can coach up their corners, and continue to add Defensive line depth, this could be an elite Defense in the AAC. But they have not forgotten about the offensive side of the ball. Kyler Wilson was a big story last season. The five star QB was perhaps the biggest offensive name in the state coming out of high school. ECU made sure he wasn't leaving the state as they locked him down.
While he sits this season and prepares for the coming years, he sits and studies with Carver to learn what the all time school passing leader can teach him.
"It has honestly been great to sit under, and learn what he has to teach me. We've become pretty close, and i can't imagine what this would be like if Liam wasn't here to guide me." Wilson said of Carver. But he hasn't just been watching film, Wilson has also been watching the recruiting war going on around the country and what his team is doing.
"I mean you try not to pay attention to it, especially since we have so much to do, but you can't help be see news and things on social media." Wilson has stated that he has been watching who the team has manage to recruit, and is excited for some of the additions the team has made.
"Obviously i like some of the defense guys they have added..but i'm really excited by some of the moves they have made on this side of the ball." And Excited he should be. The team has locked down 4.5* TE Bryan Munnerlyn, 4.5* OG Lucas Aragon, and probably the most important addition right now, 4* RB Samuel Baldwin III. Given the teams struggle with running the ball, and the thin depth at the position, a strong power runner like Baldwin means everything isn't on Wilson. Baldwin at 6-1, 198lbs, isn't the biggest guy, but he gets low and lays the boom. He should be a big improvement over what the team has now.
The team continues to battle over a couple other big names this season, but for the most part, teams are done with major targets. ECU has done well for itself despite the current season. If they can continue to recruit like they have, they should improve greatly and get back to fighting for their first Conference Championship despite several appearances. While the hope of a championship appearance is gone this season, there is still a hope for a Bowl game, however small. If the football gods are kind, and can beat UCF or USF(shoot why not both!), they might just sneak in for their fourth consecutive bowl appearance.