East Carolina University students, fans and alumni were in for a treat yesterday as football head coach Mike Houston introduced the incoming 2019 signees.
Houston announced that 21 players will join the ECU roster on the field in the fall. The players were named with their accomplishments prior to signing with the Pirates. This has gave fans and spectators hope on where the program could potentially go moving forward on top of some of the returning players coming back.
“This team is looking good,” assistant coach De’Rail Sims said. “They are working hard in the weight room. Everybody is coming together as a team. That’s the No. 1 deal, coming together as a family and attacking each day. They are hungry, they want to win and they are putting in the work right now to get that done.”
Of the incoming players, 18 of the 21 are freshmen while the other three players are transferring from community colleges. The immediate impact of the freshman class is unknown. Assistant coach Steve Shankweiler believes that when spring training starts they will be more familiar with the players on the roster.
“Freshmen take time,” Shankweiler said. “It takes time to see how they acclimate to being in college, how they acclimate to this level of football. When you watch the video and you get to know the kids in the recruiting process, it’s a group of guys that I think are more mature than I would've thought. There’s some really good football players that are going to come in and have a competitive mentality. It all depends on how fast they learn, players that make mistakes do not do well for coaches.”
Houston has been on the road recruiting players from different parts of the country. Eleven of the 21 signed players are from North Carolina. Two of the freshmen chose to stay close to home in Greenville where one played at D.H. Conley High School and the other played at South Central High School.
The incoming class is comprised of two new quarterbacks, two wide receivers, one running back, one tight end, one offensive lineman, one defensive lineman, one linebacker, one defensive back, one kicker and one player who can play multiple positions.
Houston went out and got a few three and four star recruits. Houston got kicker Patrick Nations, who according to prokicker.com was the No. 1 kicker nationally, and No. 4 kicker in the country, according to Kohl’s kicking.
Houston is excited to start working with his new team, to begin coaching them and to get ready during the spring season. Houston has had assistant coach John Williams Jr. get the players in the best shape possible to enter the spring season while he was out getting recruits to sign.
“We want to get to know our current roster better and have one on one sit downs with our returning players,” Houston said. “We want to get to know them as people and getting our assistant coaches with their position groups. We want to start talking our language, start teaching them our offense, defense and special teams. We want to develop our identity of what we want to try to be as a team. The most enjoyable part for us as coaches is the time we get to have with the players during spring training.”
Houston and the Pirates are ready and look to kick off spring training on March 15 before taking on North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina on Aug. 31.