ECU's All Decade Team:
A Look Back at the Best of the Past 10 Seasons
The Home of Pirate Football, Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
The 10 season of CFBHC has finally ended! For the Pirates of East Carolina, it was not a season they were hoping for, but a season that saw a lot of promising talent and a glimpse of what this team very well could be going into 2023 and beyond. CFBHC began play in 2013 and has seen many teams rise and fall during that span. It has grown dramatically over those ten years and has seen a lot of movement in different conferences. The AAC for example use to include Georgia State and Boise State, among other teams. The American however was not apart of the original conferences in 2013, Instead it began play in 2014, with ECU being one of the founding members. Over the Past nine seasons, ECU has seen three different coaches. Karosi was the original Pirate coach in 2014, going 3-5 before being fired and replaced by Headcoach OblivousLax who went on a four game win streak to secure the AAC East. The Pirates would lose to #1 Boise State in the AAC Conference Championship game 34-24. A few weeks later though, ECU would beat #7 Ole Miss in an amazing 17-16 finish. The Fiesta Bowl win would be their last Bowl win however till the 2019 season, beating instate Rival, NC State 38-28.
The Pirates over 9 seasons would collect an over record of 55-61. The've only had 3 losing seasons, and if you subtract those games from their record, you see a dramatic 48-32 improvement. They've been to 2 Conference Championship games, 2014 and 2018, as well as being close 2 other times. ECU has seen plenty of good and bad times. They've had numerous All-AAC players and numerous awards for individual players. The Past few seasons have seen an explosion in their passing offense, and their offense in general, which has lead to numerous School records being broken and set. A Revival of heavy hitters in their Defense over the past few seasons as well is seeing their football program return to what they once were. A Player in the AAC conference.
Writers and staff at The East Carolinian have complied stats and game tape in an attempt to create an All-Decade team for ECU in celebration of the CFBHC tenth season coming to an end after a former AAC coach in Rome(Cincinnati), lead Auburn to a National Title.
Liam Carver, QB, 2018-2021, 53 Games, 980 of 1649 for 11,561 yards, 86 Touchdowns and 37 Ints.
48 Games, 202 attempts for 1080 yards rushing. 11 touchdowns. 5.35 YPC.
The first position you talk about when you discuss a team is always Quarterback. It is vital to have a quarterback who can lead your team. ECU probably knows that better than anyone else after this pass season. They would not have been able to do as well as they did had it not been for the arm of their QB in Kyler Wilson. But it is Wilson's predecessor that we are talking about. Liam Carver. For years he was the fact of the Program. Carver was a dual threat QB and an easy favorite for the QB spot for an All-Decade team. In a few years there could be a discussion for who the best QB in ECU history is. Wilson has come out and almost broke every single season record set by Carver with the lone exception being the Touchdown record. Though he has three more years to show he can do that. Carver's 11,561 passing yards far exceeds anyone else who has ever thrown the ball for ECU. As well as his 86 touchdown passes. But it wasn't just his arm that helped the Pirates. it was his legs. A true dual threat quarterback, he earned over a 1000 yards on the ground, and 11 touchdowns in 4 seasons. His mobile style and quick finesse was something the Pirates sorely needed this season as Wilson was sacked 29 times this season. While it is much easier for a quarterback to get this than other positions, his 53 game appearances is the most in school history. While his numbers may not be as impressive as some of the bigger time schools, the school in Greenville North Carolina sees Carver as one of the greatest players to have ever worn the jersey.
Eli Tuitama, FB, 2016-2020, 39 Games, 796 Attempts for 3648 Yards, 45 Touchdowns, 4.58 YPC, 93.54 YPG, 2 Games, 7 Catches for 68 Yards, 3 Touchdowns
If Liam Carver was the heart of ECU, Eli Tuitama was most diffidently the soul of the Program. We cheated a little bit in this as Eli was always listed a s FB on the ECU depth chart. Yet he made 39 game appearances as the starting Running Back for the purple and gold. Eli made several appearances at running back during the 2016 season for the hurt( and almost listed) James Haines. Haines, who is second in career rushing yards and touchdowns, saw himself replaced as the starter late 2016. During the 2017 season, Tuitama was redshirted and spent most of the season practicing at the Running Back position. When he was eligible to play again in 2018, the FB came out with a bang. The 1560 yards rushing is a single season record that still stands, and one of the reasons why the Pirates made it to the CCG in 2018. His 3600 career yards and 45 touchdowns are reasons why he is, and always will be a fan favorite. Many Pirate fans have been spotted wearing New York Jets jersey in support of their hometown hero.
Damian Calderon, FB, 2019-2022, 3 Games, 27 attempts for 35 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1.3 YPC
FB is a position that is heavily underestimated by many in the league. Honestly it is a position that only those who play it truly understand. Damian Calderon has been a silent hero for the Pirates for the last 4 years. A Four year starter, he has blocked for 3 different starting running backs, 2 different quarterbacks, and started at the running back position himself for a couple games during the 2021 season in an attempt to help jump start the run offense. The move itself wasn't bad, but the teams they were going up against, he just wasn't gonna do much. He has been the only Four year starting FB in school history, though he is not the only 4*(or higher) FB they've had. Obviously Tuitama, but ECU(or should we say FBU?) have had a number of great fullbacks over the years, including a 4.5* FB that should be starting next season with the departure of senior Damian Calderon at the end of this season. Though he has stated he may comeback as a grad assistant with the hope of one day going into coaching.
Terry Jones, TE, 2014-2015, 25 Games, 82 catches for 1160 yards, 8 Touchdowns, 14.15 YPC
Benjamin Carter, TE, 2015-2016, 20 Games, 59 receptions for 903 yards, 10 Touchdowns, 15.31 YPC
If Fullback is a position that the Pirates have always been able to find good players for, Tightend is a group that they haven't had much luck with in recent years. Both players chosen for this list played in the early years of ECU football. In fact, the only other player considered didn't do much in his three years as a starter, with his final season being in 2019. The Tight ends the last 3 seasons have been..adequate. While Jones and Carter don't have eye popping numbers at all, when you consider that ECU only threw the ball 310 times in 2014, 278 and 268 respectively in 2015 and 2016, the fact they managed to get what they did is impressive. The duo both had their best season when playing together in 2015. Their combined 82 catches that season also represented almost 50% of completed passes as well. In the early years, ECU was not a pass heavy offense. They ran the ball..and they ran the ball well. it wasn't until 2021 that the Pirates didn't have a rusher over 1000 yards. While they were productive when they needed to be through the passing game(well productive considering the average receiver at the time), it was their blocking abilities and their abilty to open up the run game during the golden age of rushing for the Pirates. Eli Tuitama may have been the career leader in rushing, but players like James Haines and Christopher Welch were just as good, both going well over 1000 yards in their seasons, not to mention the other runners who had good seasons considering they were backups.
Leon Burris, WR, 2020-2022*, 38 Games, 196 Catches for 2592 Yards, 24 Touchdowns, 13.22 YPC
Patrick Cornett, WR, 2017-2020, 47 Games, 164 catches for 2324 yards, 19 touchdowns, 14.17 YPC
Maxwell Grubb, WR, 2017-2020, 36 Games, 149 Catches for 2019 Yards, 12 Touchdowns, 13.55 YPC
As mentioned earlier, ECU was not a pass heavy team at all before 2019. Current Coach, Weeze, brought with him the Spread system and updated philosophy of college football. While the system has changed since 2019, the pass was still the heavy focus of the team, and the receiving numbers show it. The top five career receiving leaders for the school have all played in 2019 or later. But fans of the program may look at the names chosen for the All-Decade team and recognize something about them. They all played together in 2020. 2020 Was Liam Carvers best season. over 3100 yards passing, set a team single season record for passing touchdowns, 5 on the ground himself, and he did great spreading the ball around. Patrick Cornette at the time set a record for single season receiving yards at 948. His teammate at the time, Burris, would break that record the following season, and then again this pass season becoming the first receiver to break 1000 yards. All three of these players are also the first players in team history to break the 2000 career mark as well. Cornetts 19 touchdowns use to be a career record, but two players, Burris and Talbert, have both exceeded this mark as well.
2018 OL, 14 Games, 6.3 Rating, 14 Sacks allowed,
The 2018 Offensive line is perhaps one of the best units this school has ever seen. The 14 sacks allowed is third, with the fewest allowed sacks being 10 in both 2019 and 2016. The 2018 unit however had an overall rating of 6.3 after 14 games. A rating that could be higher had it not been for a very weird game against Uconn where they gave up 5 sacks. The most sacks ever allowed in a single game. Other than that one game, they were a solid unit that opened up the running lanes and kept the freshman quarterback upright. ECU has had some struggles recruiting line players since coach Weeze took over. But that has been changing the last two seasons. The hope is they can get back to this 2018 form in the coming seasons.
Isiah Townsend, DE, 2020-2021, 16 Games, 58 Tackles, 3TFL, 15 Sacks, 3 FF, 1 FR
Jeremey Jones, DE, 2014-2016, 8 Games, 22 Tackles, 9 Sacks
The ECU Pirates have had some good secondaries, and great linebackers. the front four(or 3) have been something of a disappointment over the years. Large part due to the fact that they've been unable to recruit at that position. One of the things Coach Weeze promised to change was improving the men in the trenches. So far we've seen that. The talent level that has been injected into the front four position group has been night and day different. Never before have the Pirates had a 4* or higher DE. Last season we saw Theo Guinn make his debut as the first and saw what a difference it made. The true freshman got after the quarterback and ended the season with seven sacks, while his partner Aiden Daniels(a true sophomore) ended the season with 5. Not only that but the Pirates managed to recruit another 4* DE. Needless to say the DE position stat numbers reflect a lot of what we have said. With 7 sacks and a 5 sack season being a good season, its not hard to imagine that the rest of the players in school history haven't put up big numbers. So while the staff here at the East Carolinian debated who to put in, the argument became numbers or productivity? Do you put in someone who played in less games but came away with more sacks? Or should the person who made the statsheet a little more, with a few more tackles but less sacks? In the end, the choice was obvious. Isiah Townsend, DE who started during the 2020 and 2021 season was an unanimous decision by the staff. 16 Game appearances, he made more appearances than any other DE. He currently also holds the career record for sacks at 15. Theo Guinn was a half sack short of tying, and a full sack short of breaking the record set by Townsend in 2020 for most sacks in a single season. He tied that record the following season with 7.5 sacks. Who the second DE would be was not as easy. Finally, Jeremy Jones was decided on as the most obvious choice. He only made 8 appearances, but his 9 sacks in 8 games was enough to give him the nod.
Liam Childers, DT, 2020-2022, 15 Games, 62 tackles, 5 TFL, 7 sacks, 2 FF, 2 FR Mateo Graft-Hart, DT, 2018-2021, 13 Games, 55 Tackles, 7.5 Sacks, 1 FR and 1 Safety
While the DT unit isn't much better, it was much easier to decide who should earn the All-Decade honors for DT. It has had some great players, including recently retired(2021) DT Jeffery Bryant. Recent Grad Liam Childers, and former player Mateo Graft-Hart earned the honors. Childers has been a consistent presence for the Pirates. Despite the poor Run defense of recent years, Childers has been a bright spot. Often taking on double teams, the big man has still made his presence felt racking up 62 tackles, 5 TFL, 7 sacks and a couple forced fumbles. His defense unanimously voted to make him a team captain this season and he has shown everyone he's earned that. Graft-Hart was a little harder to decide on. His first two seasons, 2019 in particular, he came out with a bang. The 2020 season, you almost didn't know he was on the field. However, in the end his performance and numbers he put up in 2019 just couldn't be ignored. The big man was everywhere, multiple sacks, continuously stopping the run before it got started, he was a great player who perhaps just got overshadowed by other even better players during that time span.
Arthur Rossi, ROLB, 2020-2022, 17 Games, 81 Tackles, 1 TFL, 1 Sack, 1 Int, 1 PD
Alex Hogue, LOLB, 2017-2019, 14 Games, 76 Tackles, 4.5 Sacks
The Linebackers over the years at ECU have been very productive. Not all have been great in interceptions or sack artist, but they've been great none the less tackling the ball carrier. ROLB Arthur Rossi, recently graduated was picked as the best ROLB. His 81 tackles is the most among OLB in school history. Rossi was a right place, right time starter for the Pirates. He was initially recruited as a special teams player who got a chance to start when the initial starter couldn't make the cut during spring and fall camps. When given the chance he made the most of the opportunities. 3 years later he graduates as one of the best tacklers in school history(fifth all time). The best of his position as already stated. Alex Hogue played both positions in his time at ECU, though made the best impact at the LOLB position. He finished 6th all time in tackles in school history. He was a little more productive in getting to the QB, however he was just as quick, and maybe even a better tackler. Much like the Quarterback position, Who is best in school history may quickly change as Richard Jack had a successful freshman season. The rookie came out and got 30 tackles, 4 sacks, and made some other big plays. Another couple seasons like that and in 2030, maybe he gets included on a list of all time players in school history. It will be interesting to watch his production however as two more great Linebackers redshirted this season. They should also be big time play makers.
Sebastian Chaney, ILB, 2018-2019, 106 Tackles, 1 Int, 1 FF, 1 FR
There were only two other positions that were decided on quicker than ILB. They were FS and QB. Inside Linebacker could only go to Sebastian Chaney. There was no other option. Sean Gomez may disagree and say he should have gotten more consideration. And maybe yes. The same could be said as well for Jerome Rowell. Both were fantastic linebackers. Chaney however was the first player to get over 100 tackles. Running it toward him only meant you were going to get hit. And get hit hard. He was very productive in his two seasons and the Pirates have been showing a lot of his game tape to Mario Redd, a redshirting freshman who one day should be an NFL star. He was very good at reading the offense and calling out adjustments to his team mates. Logan Birdd has been a great player, and the hope is Redd can be a star. But both have a long way to go if they wish to reach the level of success this man had in only two seasons.
Jasiah Francis, CB, 2019-2020, 11 Games, 34 Tackles, 9 Ints, 2 Touchdowns Josh Miller, CB, 2016-2017, 9 Games, 41 Tackles, 2 Ints
Jasiah Francis, a JuCo transfer in 2018, was an easy favorite for All-Decade honors. Honestly, maybe he was the only player at the position to really earn it. It quickly became evident as the stats were analyzed that very few of the interceptions in Pirate history came from corners. Most came from Safeties and Linebackers. With a few sprinkled in at corner. Francis was the only one whoever truly was productive at the position. His 9 interceptions is the most by any corner in school history. Josh Miller was a decent corner. He was a hard hitter, and great in run support. He didn't allow a lot of yards after a catch either. Unfortunately for him the secondary was just young. He was never able to get comfortable and play a natural game. Francis on the other hand had the benefit of playing with a much more experienced secondary. Not to mention a better front seven. As such he had better interception numbers. But there is no denying the strength and the passion Josh miller played with during the two worst seasons in school history. If he had that same passion with the 2014, or 2018-19 seasons, how different could his numbers have been?
Devin Lloyd, FS, 2017-2020, 27 Games, 116 Tackles, 12 Ints, 1 FR, 3 Touchdowns
Devin Lloyd. That was it. When FS came up, anyone who said anything differently was fired. For 3 seasons, Lloyd was a terror for opposing offenses and for his own team during fall training camp. He played at 100% all the time. He had been yelled at on multiple occasions supposedly for hitting the QB and tackling at full during practice. But coaches were reluctant to say anything as he is perhaps the best defensive player to ever play for ECU. He leads the school in tackles, as well as interceptions. He also is tied for most touchdowns. How can you even look at anyone else?
Ashton Best, SS, 2016-2019, 18 Games, 86 Tackles, 1 Sack, 8 Ints, 3 Touchdowns
Ashton Best is the other half of the Dynamic Duo that haunted the AAC during the 2017-2019 seasons. Best and Lloyd would start at different points during the 2017 season. It wasn't until 2018 that they both were full time starters. They quickly formed a great relationship and worked well together. For two seasons the duo wrecked havoc on offenses and allowed Carter to have all the chances he needed to become remembered as the best QB in school history. This Duos ability peaked in 2019 when Jasiah Francis entered the scene and secured the corner position. Best and Lloyd are tied for most defensive touchdowns with 3 a piece. Since these great players have graduated, the ECU secondary has been a shadow of what it once was. Best is fourth all time in total tackles, and has been debated as being better of the two. With almost ten fewer appearances, he has almost as many tackles, interceptions and touchdowns.
Patrick Gaffney, K, 2019-2021, 39 Games, 274 Points, 127 XPM, 49 of 62 FGM, 51 Longest
The All-Decade Kicker was an interesting discussion among the East Carolinian. There were different angels and different stats to look at who to decided was the best kicker. In the nine years that East Carolina has been running a football program, they've never had a bad kicker. This only made it harder. In the end, Patrick Gaffney was elected. The interesting part about this is, he is the lowest rated kicker of the four kickers to play for ECU. The 3* kicker however holds the record for most points. And holds its by a very large margin. 72 points to be exact. He has also made and attempted more extra points than any other kicker, made more field goals and has the longest made kick of 51. He was a kicker who maybe should have been graded higher than a 3 star, but fans of the program will remember him for years as he helped win some of the greatest games in their history. Including a win over a 15th ranked Kansas, 38-35.
William Cochran, P, 2017-2018, 26 Games, 42.17 Average.
And finally, we reached the last player on the ECU All-Decade team in celebration of the CFBHC 10th season coming to an end. William Cochran narrowly wins this one. With a 42.17 average, he earns the All-Decade honor.
And thats it! We've finally come to a close on this article that has taken us far longer to write than we initially thought. Still, it was great to revisit some of the great and amazing players who have been apart of this program over the last 9 seasons. Some of these talented individuals have gone on to play at the professional level. Others finished their senior season and would never suit up again. Never the less, they are all great in our eyes because they were apart of this great university. They did their best and some continue to do their best to represent ECU. Here looking to another ten years of college football!