East Carolina University’s football team was picked to finish sixth in the East division of the American Athletic Conference by members of the media Tuesday morning.
ECU, entering into its fifth season in the AAC, received 41 points, putting it just behind the University of Connecticut (51). The University of Central Florida (175), last season’s AAC champion, was picked to finish first. UCF is followed by the University of South Florida (140), Temple University (132), the University of Cincinnati (91), with UConn and ECU rounding out the bottom.
The West division of the AAC was led by last year’s west champion, the University of Memphis with 171 points. Memphis was followed by the University of Houston (146), Navy (129), Southern Methodist University (72), Tulane University (68) and the University of Tulsa finishing last with 44 points.
Last season, ECU defeated the two teams which finished directly higher in the polls Tuesday, UConn and Cincinnati. ECU defeated UConn 41-38 on September 24 in Connecticut, and defeated Cincinnati 48-20 on November 18 at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
ECU finished with a 3-9 record, including going 2-6 in the AAC, finishing tied for fourth in the East division. It was the second season in a row the Pirates finished 3-9, but third-year head coach Scottie Montgomery and the Pirates return 40 letterman from last season’s team.
While ECU is ranked in last place, it doesn’t directly correlate to how they will actually finish in the regular season. Last season, USF was picked in the poll to win the AAC, but the championship was ultimately taken by UCF, who received 0 first place votes in the poll.
This comes on the heels of a week which featured players from some of ECU’s better seasons. Former ECU wide receiver Zay Jones was named to the AAC fifth anniversary team on Monday, and two former ECU football players are being inducted into the ECU Athletics Hall of Fame.
Jones finished his ECU career in 2016 as the NCAA FBS career and single season leader in receptions. Jones was a finalist for the 2016 Biletnikoff Award, the William V. Campbell Trophy and the Senior CLASS Award. In addition to being a finalist for numerous awards, Jones was named to 14 All-America teams and was recognized as a Heisman Trophy candidate by the Heisman Trophy Trust. Jones went on the be selected by the Buffalo Bills in the second round of the 2017 NFL draft.
Jimmy Creech and Chris Johnson, both former ECU football players, will also be inducted into the ECU Athletics Hall of Fame on October 12 inside of Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum for the 41st installment ceremony as part of annual Hall of Fame/Letterwinners’ Weekend.
ECU will hope to replicate the success of these former teams and players this season and prove the last-place prediction wrong when it opens the season on September 1 against North Carolina A&T at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.