GREENVILLE, N.C. - First-year East Carolina Head Football Coach Ruffin McNeill welcomed 105 players on his preseason roster to campus Thursday afternoon as the Pirates officially reported for work to kick off the 2010 campaign.
After handling traditional check-in responsibilities such as physicals, equipment-fitting sessions and mandated NCAA meetings, ECU will prepare for its initial practice of camp Friday afternoon before hosting media day activities late Saturday morning.
The two-time defending Conference USA champions return only six of 22 starters on both sides of the ball and have just a 19-member senior class. In addition to national honors candidate Dwayne Harris at inside receiver, the Pirates' offensive unit brings back a combined 82 career starts in guards Cory Dowless (36) and D.J. Scott (32), and tackle Willie Smith (14) to help with its continuing transition to a spread attack. Defensively, cornerbacks Travis Simmons and Emanuel Davis represent East Carolina's lone returning starters.
The Pirates' entire mid-December and February signing classes are among the 105, including 15 newcomers who did not enroll early in classes in January or have the opportunity to participate in spring drills such as Detric Allen (DB), Desi Brown (DB), Shane Carden (QB), Dominique Davis (QB), Jacob Geary (LB), Drew Gentry (OL), Mack Helms (OL), Taylor Hudson (OL), Lamar Ivey (DB), Lance Lewis (WR), Damon Magazu (DB), Lee Peques (DL), Torian Richardson (WR), Chrishon Rose (DL) and Terry Williams (LB).
In addition to the signees, the Pirates' camp roster is also bolstered by six new invited walk-ons - half of which will compete for special teams roles. Junior kicker Michael Barbour, a transfer from Maryland, joined freshman punter Trent Tignor and rookie deep snapper Charlie Coggins as Thursday arrivals, while defensive end Terry Biles and wide receivers Justin Hardy and Desmond Lawrence were added as freshmen position players. Lawrence, a versatile athlete who recently signed with the ECU track program as a short sprinter, could face a move to the defensive secondary once camp opens.
McNeill also announced two additional roster moves prior to the start of preseason workouts, both involving veteran departures. Senior tight end/fullback Kevin Gidrey, who opened all 14 games a year ago in the Pirates' former multiple offensive scheme, notified McNeill of his intention to transfer to South Florida and has officially left the East Carolina program. Senior cornerback Darryl Reynolds is not enrolled for classes this fall, marking the end of his ECU career.
From an injury standpoint, junior defensive tackle Diavalo Simpson (lower leg) and sophomore defensive tackle Michael Brooks (knee) are still in a rehabilitation process and remain out indefinitely.