An emphasis on adding size, weight and personnel on both lines of scrimmage and the continued strengthening of relationships inside the state of North Carolina were fourth-year East Carolina Head Football Coach Skip Holtz' top priorities as the Pirates announced their 18-member 2008 signing class Wednesday.
Of the 18, 11 are projected to play on offense while seven will play on defense. Offensively, the Pirates signed five linemen, three wide receivers, one quarterback, one tight end and one multi-purpose athlete. On defense, ECU is looking forward to adding three linemen, three secondary performers and one linebacker to its roster.
"We're at a point where the emphasis has turned to increasing the bulk on our offensive and defensive lines," Holtz said. "We need beef in the program with program-type players who develop and are here for the duration. It's a smaller class, but when you have the opportunity to redshirt 19 players last year who were predominately skill performers, our needs shift in this direction and we can't be any happier about this particular group of young men."
Mid-year junior college transfer T.J. Harper, an offensive lineman who signed with East Carolina in December, represents the overall class' only upperclassmen. Seventeen of the 18 signees played at the high school level last fall while wide receiver Dayon Arrington will join the Pirate program from Hargrave Military Academy.
"In addition to meeting our positional needs, we also feel that we addressed qualities like character, athleticism, speed, toughness and height that are becoming consistent staples in our program," Holtz added. "We also wanted to keep in-state recruiting as a top priority and that loyalty on both sides has certainly paid dividends for all of us over the past three years."
While the 18 newcomers hail from six different states, 11 played at the prep level in North Carolina. The Pirates ranked 16th out of 119 programs nationally a year ago with the highest percentage of in-state players.
The Pirates turned in their highest win total since 2000 last season with an 8-5 record and have now posted back-to-back winning campaigns for the first time since 1999-2000. East Carolina capped the year with a 41-38 triumph over No. 22 Boise State at the Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl on Dec. 23 - the program's first bowl victory in seven years.
2008 EAST CAROLINA FOOTBALL SIGNEE BIOS
Dayon Arrington, WR, 6-2, 205, Fr., Silver Spring, Md. (Hargrave Military Academy) Junior College: Will join six other active Pirates who prepped at Hargrave Military Academy - an institution that featured 57 former players who experienced action in bowl games during December and January ... Scored first touchdown of the season on a 20-yard run vs. Robert Morris College Sept. 3 ... Made one catch for seven yards against Tennessee JV squad at Neyland Stadium Sept. 27 ... Recorded six catches for 115 yards and a pair of touchdowns vs. Louisburg Oct. 14 ... Helped lead HMA to a 5-3-1 record in 2007 ... Reportedly turned in a 31-inch vertical jump and a 300+ bench press during program's testing day ... Earned three-star rating by Rivals.com ... Also recruited by Illinois and Virginia. High School: An all-conference performer at Paint Branch High School in Burtonsville, Md. ... Logged 40 catches for 914 yards and three TDs as a senior at PBHS ... Also gained 114 rushing yards on 11 carries.
C.J. Brown, OL, 6-4, 315, Fr., Wilmington, N.C. (New Hanover)
High School: A three-year letterman and starter at right tackle for coach Kevin Motsinger at New Hanover High School ... A second-team all-conference selection as a senior ... Also named to the all-area squad (honorable mention) in 2007 ... Credited as playing a key role for line which produced the Wildcats' first 1,000-yard rusher since 1995 ... Lists overtime win vs. Laney as most memorable football moment to date. Personal: Full name is Christopher Jorge Brown, but prefers to go by C.J. ... Born June 6, 1990 at Washington, D.C. ... Son of Albert Fitchett, Jr., and Nona Brown-Fitchett ... Plans to major in business administration ... Hobbies include reading, movies and cooking ... Cousin Shawn Brown was a basketball letterman at The Citadel (1978-82) while another cousin, Tiera Brown, is currently a member of the Miami (Fla.) track program.
Mike Brown, TE, 6-4, 230, Fr., Reidsville, N.C. (Reidsville)
High School: A three-year starter for coach Jimmy Teague at Reidsville High School ... Opened varsity career on the offensive line as a sophomore before move to the tight end position during junior and senior seasons ... Helped lead Rams to a combined 29-2 record in 2006 and 2007, which included a 16-0 state championship mark in the latter campaign ... Earned all-conference honors ... Topped squad and conference in both catches and touchdown receptions ... Picked up a total of eight letters (three football, three basketball), two track) during prep career ... Was a two-year starter on hardwood and advanced to the state track finals in the discus and shot put.
Josh Clark, OL, 6-4, 265, Fr., Gastonia, N.C. (North Gaston)
High School: A three-year letterman at North Gaston High School ... Played for his father, head coach Bruce Clark, during his prep career ... Earned all-state honors ... Helped lead Wildcats to a 10-2 record and a deep run (third round) into the Class 3A playoffs as a senior ... Brother Justin was Western Carolina's starting quarterback in 2004 and 2005 ... Also recruited by Navy and Southeastern Conference member Vanderbilt.
Allen Crowder, DL, 6-2, 260, Fr., Mebane, N.C. (Eastern Alamance)
High School: Selected as the Mid-State Conference's MVP as a senior at Eastern Alamance High School ... Played for coach John Kirby ... Credited with 102 tackles, eight sacks and four forced fumbles as a senior to play key role in squad's 9-3 record ... Named to all-conference, all-region and all-state squads in 2007 ... Helped lead Eagles to 9-4 and 11-4 ledgers as a sophomore and junior, earning all-conference and all-region accolades both seasons ... Has produced a 405-pound bench press and a 615-squat lift during program testing ... Listed among North Carolina's top 40 recruits by SuperPrep Magazine ... Earned three-star rating by Rivals.com ... Was selected to represent North Carolina and participated in the 2007 Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas All-Star Game ... Also recruited by South Carolina. Personal: Full name is Allen Rex Crowder II ... Born November 18, 1989 at Mebane, N.C. ... Would like to major in exercise science
Dalton Faulds, OL, 6-3, 285, Fr., Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. (Nease)
High School: Rated as one of the top 25 offensive guard prospects nationally according to ESPN Insider ... Easily topped all Nease linemen in pancake (4.1 per game average) and downfield blocks (7.3) as a senior ... Part of Panther program that captured three consecutive state titles ... Ranked by scout.com among the top five guards nationally in speed and agility tests (combine/40 time, shuttle and three-cone) ... Also listed as one of the country's top 100 offensive lineman by scout.com ... Prep coach was Craig Howard ... Played in same prep program as current ECU offensive lineman Doug Polochak and Florida quarterback Tim Tebow. Personal: Full name is Christopher Dalton Faulds ... Prefers to be called by middle name ... Born June 18, 1990 at Cincinnati, Ohio ... Son of John and Mary Faulds ... Undecided on college major ... Lists current Jacksonville Jaguars' quarterback David Garrard as favorite all-time Pirate player ... Hobbies include fishing and ping-pong.
Anthony Garner, DL, 6-1, 290, Fr., Siler City, N.C. (Jordan-Matthews)
High School: A three-year starter for coach Marty Scotten at Jordan-Matthews High School ... Suffered a season-ending injury (leg) during fourth game of senior year after getting off to a quick start with eight sacks and 11 tackles for lost yardage ... Team captain ... An All-Yadkin Valley Conference (1-A) and team MVP selection as a junior ... Booked 95 tackles, 23 of which resulted in lost yardage, and 15 sacks to lead the Jets to an 11-2 record in 2006 ... Ranked among the state's top 35 defensive linemen according to scout.com ... Listed among North Carolina's top 35 overall recruits by SuperPrep Magazine ... Early size and strength enabled action as a short-yardage back during middle school ... In all, earned eight varsity letters during prep career (three basketball, two tennis in addition to football). Personal: Full name is Henry Anthony Garner, Jr. ... Prefers to be called by middle name ... Born November 28, 1989 at Sanford, N.C. ... Son of Henry and Brenda Garner ... Undecided on college major ... Lists current Pirate defensive lineman Linval Joseph as favorite all-time ECU player ... Lists playing basketball as a top hobby.
Grant Harner, OL, 6-6, 300, Fr., Jacksonville, Fla. (Bartram Trail)
High School: Played a key role in leading Bartram Trail High School to back-to-back district championships as a junior and senior ... Guided the Bears to a regional title in 2007 ... Earned two football letters at BTHS under coach Darrell Sutherland ... Also picked up a pair of letters as a standout golf performer. Personal: Full name is Grant Gregory Harner ... Born August 1, 1990 at Jacksonville, Fla. ... Son of Greg and Margie Harner ... Plans to major in business with a minor in sports management or sports medicine ... Lists current Jacksonville Jaguars' quarterback David Garrard as all-time favorite Pirate player ... Hobbies of choice are golf and fishing ... Always exceeded Pop Warner League size limitations as a child, thus was not allowed to play at the developmental level.
Jacobi Jenkins, WR, 6-0, 175, Fr., Rocky Mount, N.C. (Rocky Mount)
High School: A multi-dimensional standout who played three different positions and handled additional special teams work for coach B.W. Holt at Rocky Mount High School ... In addition to wide receiver, also played defensive back, wingback and returned kicks for the Gryphons ... A four-year letterman and two-time all-state selection ... Was a primary contributor for a RMHS program that rolled to a combined 47-6 record in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007 ... Completed career with 17 interceptions and 10 blocked kicks ... Earned all-state honors as a sophomore with nine interceptions before following with four each as a junior and senior .... Posted 47 stops, recorded touchdown returns on a pair of interceptions and averaged 27.9 yards per reception (15) on offense during senior campaign ... Netted 46 tackles on defense and tallied 10 catches for 176 yards and a TD as a junior ... Remains a noted track athlete at Rocky Mount, competing in the 55-meter dash, 55-meter hurdles, 100-meter dash, 110-meter hurdles, 200-meter dash, 300-meter dash, 300-meter hurdles, 4x100 relay, 4x200 relay and the 4x400 relay events ... Turned in a state runner-up finish in the 110-meter high hurdles and a fifth-place standing in the 300-meter hurdles as a junior ... Also qualified for state competition in the 4x100 and 4x200 relays ... Registered personal-best times of 14.4 in the 110-meter high hurdles and 10.5 in the 100-meter dash ... Ranked among nation's top wide receivers by scout.com ... Also recruited by North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest. Personal: Full name is Byron Jacobi Jenkins ... Prefers to go by nickname of Cobi ... Born December 17, 1988 at Rocky Mount, N.C. ... Son of Carl and Erma Jenkins ... Undecided on college major ...Older brother Marcus, who is listed as the person most influential on his career, played collegiate football at Norfolk State and Shaw.
Adrian Jones, ATH, 5-11, 180, Fr., Laurinburg, N.C. (Scotland)
High School: Racked up 667 all-purpose yards (208 rushing, 139 receiving, 177 kickoff return, 143 punt return) for coach Mark Barnes at Scotland High School despite missing over half the season because of injury (foot) ... Rated among scout.com's top 30 wide receivers in the state and top 150 nationally ... Stands among North Carolina's top 25 overall recruits according to SuperPrep Magazine ... Earned three-star rating by Rivals.com ... Played quarterback as a junior, passing for 1,050 yards and six touchdowns ... Also rushed for 783 yards and five TDs in 2006 ... Clocked at 4.4 in the 40-yard dash by prep coaching staff ... Is the defending Mid-Southeastern 4-A Conference champion in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, booking top times of 10.59 (100) and 21.2 (200) in those events ... Also recruited by Clemson, Georgia, Miami and North Carolina ... Father (Steve Williams) was a running back at Scotland in the 1980s.
Robert Jones, DL, 6-3, 260, Fr., Tucker, Ga. (Tucker)
High School: Enjoyed stellar prep career, contributing to a Tucker High School program that rolled to a combined four-year record of 42-6 and picked up three region titles ... Franklin Stephens' squad was chosen as the DeKalb County 2007 Team-of-the-Year ... Earned three football letters ... Played key role during the Tigers' 13-1 mark as a senior team captain, picking up all-county honors ... Selected to play on the DeKalb County All-Star Team. Personal: Full name is Robert Roosevelt Jones ... Born April 19, 1990 at Lafayette, Ind. ... Son of Robert and Jana Jones ... Indicates an interest to major in computer science (business minor) ... Active in scouting for the past nine years, earning a rank of Life (after meeting requirements for an Arrow of Light Badge at 15) ... Father was a defensive end at Purdue during the Boillermakers' Peach Bowl (1978) and Bluebonnet Bowl wins (1979) ... Hobbies include chess and video games.
Josh Jordan, QB, 6-4, 210, Fr., St. Amant, La. (St. Amant)
High School: Completed 142-of-254 passes for 1,809 yards and 20 touchdowns as a senior team captain at St. Amant High School (Ascension Parish) to earn all-district honors ... Turned in a career-high 392-yard, seven-touchdown performance during contest against St. Charles in 2007 and was selected as the Rivals.com National Player-of-the-Week ... Threw for 1,350 yards and 11 TDs on 102-of-209 passing while rushing for 333 yards on 84 carries as a junior in 2006 ... In all, earned three football letters and left St. Amant as the holder of five offensive records ... Nominated for the Warrick Dunn Award and was named program's Iron Man Award winner ... Chosen to play in the Red Stick All-Star Game (in Baton Rouge, La.) ... Gators' offensive coordinator David Oliver previously served on Conference USA rival Tulane's staff with current Pirate defensive backs coach Rick Smith ... Also recruited by Iowa State, Virginia and Connecticut ... Also a track letterman who captured a state title in the javelin throw. Personal: Worked as a ball boy while father (Jeff Jordan) was on the coaching staff at Southwestern Louisiana (University of Louisiana-Lafayette), which featured current Carolina Panthers' quarterback Jake Delhomme on its roster.
Max Joyner, LB, 6-2, 191, Fr., Greenville, N.C. (J.H. Rose)
High School: A two-year letterman that was a part of three (2004, 2005, 2006) 4-A state championship squads at J.H. Rose High School ... In all, played a role for a program that tallied a combined four-year record of 54-7 ... Netted seven interceptions for a 16-0 Rampants team as a junior ... Earned all-county (first-team) and all-conference (second-team) honors in 2006 ... Selected as Rose's defensive game MVP during campaign ... Recorded a pair of interceptions as a senior and was chosen to all-county and all-state (honorable mention) squads ... Picked off a late pass in the state championship game to secure one of Rose's titles ... Experienced majority of action in the secondary but also handled linebacking duties for coach Greg Thomas ... A product of Skip Holtz' Summer Football Camp program. Personal: Full name is Max Ray Joyner III ... Born August 31, 1989 at Greenville, N.C. ... Son of Max and Kelly Joyner ... Plans to major in business ... Lists Keith Stokes as favorite all-time Pirate player ... Hobbies include video games and working on cars.
Logan Kudlinski, OL, 6-5, 265, Fr., Orange Park, Fla. (Orange Park)
High School: A two-year starter and three-year letterman for coach Ted Leasor's Raiders at Orange Park High School ... Opened play on the defensive line as a junior before moving to offense in 2007 ... Earned all-conference honors on both sides of the ball and was named to the All-Clay County squad as a senior ... Selected to play in the Jacksonville Shrine Bowl All-Star Game ... Also lettered in track, competing in the shot put and discus events ... Captured conference title in the discus throw ... Did not play organized football until reaching the school system. Personal: Full name is Logan M. Kudlinski ... Born July 25, 1990 at Jacksonville, Fla. ... Son of Alan and Ann Stuckey ... Plans to major in general business ... Hobbies are swimming and metal music.
Rahkeem Morgan, DB, 6-0, 180, Fr., Asheville, N.C. (Asheville)
High School: A versatile athlete who was a two-year starter at quarterback for coach Danny Wilkins at Asheville High School ... Completed prep career with a school-record 3,084 passing yards ... Threw for 1,810 yards and 22 touchdowns while suffering only six interceptions as a senior to lead AHS to an 11-3 mark ... Added 1,173 rushing yards and 12 ground scores ... Helped guide squad deep into playoffs before suffering a third-round setback to North Gaston ... Selected as the Asheville Citizen-Times Western North Carolina Player-of-the-Year ... Chosen to play in the N.C. East-West All-Star Game later this summer ... Starred as a wide receiver during sophomore season in 2005 and made game-winning catch in state championship contest ... Part of AHS squads which qualified for post-season play for three consecutive years.
Leonard Paulk, DB, 5-11, 180, Fr., Columbia, S.C. (Richland Northeast)
High School: A three-year letterman, two-year starter and team captain for coach Jay Frye at Richland Northeast High School ... Booked 97 tackles (seven for lost yardage), two sacks, 13 pass deflections, three forced fumbles, two recovered fumbles, two interceptions and five quarterback pressures as a senior to help guide the Cavaliers to a 7-5 record and co-region championship ... Returned one interception back for 70 yards ... Also scored three touchdowns on returns as member of special teams ... Tallied 75 tackles, including six behind the line of scrimmage, along with two sacks, five pass breakups, five fumble recoveries and four pressures during junior campaign ... Turned one fumble recovery into a score in 2006 ... Racked up 10 stops as a sophomore during RNHS's 11-2 season that resulted in a region title and state runner-up finish ... Also picked up letters in track (three) and wrestling (one) ... Competed in the 100, 200 and 400-meter dash while also serving as a member of the 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams ... Rated among scout.com's top 25 defensive backs in the state of South Carolina and top 110 nationally ... Rated as the No. 32 overall recruit in South Carolina according to SuperPrep Magazine ... Attended Skip Holtz' ECU Summer Football Camp ... An outstanding student who is a member of the National Honor Society, Senior House, Palmetto Boys State and the Omicron Iota Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity ... Named Richland Northeast's Outstanding Senior, Most Athletic and Mr. Northeast ... Also holds membership in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Personal: Full name is Leonard Revell Paulk III ... Prefers to go by nickname of Scoota ... Born November 25, 1990 at Savannah, Ga., thus will play the majority of his freshman season at ECU as a 17-year-old ... Son of Leonard and Sonya Paulk ... Plans to major in education with a minor in athletic training ... Lists current Jacksonville Jaguars' quarterback David Garrard as all-time favorite Pirate player ... Lists drawing as top hobby ... Spent summer working as a recreational aide at the Boys and Girls Club (youth center) ... Brother Rodney earned freshman All-America honors last season as a member of the South Carolina football program while cousin Tim (Paulk) was an All-Southeastern Conference linebacker at Florida and a seventh-round draft choice of the Atlanta Falcons in 1991.
Justin Venable, DB, 6-1, 185, Fr., Climax, N.C. (Southeast Guilford)
High School: Earned conference defensive player-of-the-year honors after booking 137 tackles, four interceptions and 23 pass breakups for coach Fritz Hessenthaler at Southeast Guilford High School ... Selected to play in the 2007 Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas All-Star Game and garnered defensive MVP honors while representing North Carolina ... Picked off a school-record nine passes and tallied 84 stops for a Falcon team that produced a 10-4 record, reaching the third round of the 3-AA playoffs in 2006. ... Chosen to the All-Mid-Piedmont Conference squad and the Greensboro News & Record's All-Guilford County team ... Clocked at 4.38 in the 40 during the Shrine Bowl combine during the spring of 2007 ... Starred in Southeast Guilford's secondary as a junior and senior after playing the linebacker position as a sophomore. ... Also experienced action on the offensive side of the ball as a wide receiver and on special teams as a kick returner ... In all, picked up three football letters ... Rated among scout.com's top 35 defensive backs in the state and top 130 nationally ... Stands among North Carolina's top 30 overall recruits according to SuperPrep Magazine ... Also recruited by North Carolina State, Wake Forest and Virginia ... Earned additional varsity letters in baseball, playing shortstop and in the outfield for the Falcons ... Batted .350 for a club that reached the state 3-A championship series in 2006.
Joe Womack, WR, 6-1, 195, Fr., Jacksonville, N.C. (Northside)
High School: A three-year starter at quarterback and two-way player for coach Bob Eason at Northside High School ... Rushed for 1,378 yards and 20 touchdowns while throwing for 715 yards and seven scores during senior campaign ... Defensively, netted a team-high nine interceptions as team captain ... Also served as one of the Monarchs' top kick returners on special teams ... Completed 55-of-124 passes for 992 yards and 11 touchdowns as a junior to help guide Northside to an 11-4 record ... Added 478 ground yards and 10 TDs on 126 carries in 2006 ... Also picked off five passes during junior year ... Rushed for 437 yards and passed for 658 more during first varsity season in 2005 (as a sophomore) ... Led Monarchs to three conference semifinal appearances ... Picked up a total of 10 varsity letters (three football, three baseball, four track) ... Rated among scout.com's top 40 wide receivers in the state and top 200 nationally ... Stands among North Carolina's top 32 overall recruits according to SuperPrep Magazine ... Earned invitation to play in the 2007 Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas All-Star Game ... Also recruited by Duke, North Carolina and North Carolina State ... A three-sport performer during prep career at NHS ... Named to the school's prestigious Academic Achievers list. Personal: Full name is Joseph Womack ... Born November 16, 1989 at Havelock, N.C. (MCAS Cherry Point) ... Son of Joe and Felicia Womack ... Would like to major in computer networking with a minor in computer software ... Cited ECU's new football facilities as one of the top reasons to sign with Pirate program ... Hobbies include fishing and video games ... Sister Johanna Womack is a freshman in the UNC Greensboro basketball program.
T.J. Harper, OL, 6-2, 315, Jr., Meridian, Miss. (Pearl River CC)
Signed with East Carolina on December 19 while the Pirates were in Honolulu preparing for the Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl ... Enrolled at ECU in January and is currently participating in the team's winter strength and conditioning program. Junior College: A two-year starter for coach Tim Hatten at Pearl River Community College, which is located in Poplarville, Miss. ... Helped lead Wildcats to an overall mark of 6-3 and a 3-3 Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) record in 2007 ... Earned All-Region 23 honors as a sophomore ... Part of PRCC program that captured a state title in 2006 ... Wildcats earned No. 1 national ranking in the National Junior College Athletic Association Preseason Poll in both 2006 and 2007 ... Reportedly turned in a bench press of 480 pounds and a squat lift of 600 during program testing ... Earned three-star rating by scout.com. High School: An all-state performer at Meridian (Miss.) High School. Personal: Interested in film career ... Has directed two short films, including a documentary on the dangers of steroid use.