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ECU football inks 16 early signees on National Signing Day

Mike Houston National Signing Day 2020
Mike Houston National Signing Day 2020(WITN Sports)
Published: Dec. 16, 2020 at 5:19 PM EST
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – East Carolina head football coach Mike Houston announced Wednesday that 12 student-athletes have signed a national letter-of-intent and four (4) others have officially confirmed their enrollment status with the Pirates. The NCAA’s early football signing period extends through Friday.

Mike Houston Comments: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0HQQwD2LbUU

Jayden Chalmers, DB, 6-0, 170, Fr., Sanford, N.C. (Lee County HS/Fork Union Military)

Verbally committed to East Carolina on Dec. 9, 2020 ... Will officially enroll early at ECU (January, 2021) and is expected to participate with the Pirates in spring drills … Originally signed with North Carolina on Dec. 18, 2019. Prep School: Listed on Fork Union Military’s post-graduate roster as a cornerback and wide receiver in 2020 ... Blue Devils compiled a 5-1 record during the fall, opening the campaign with a 28-21 loss to Jireh Prep before rolling off five wins in a row to close season (Steel City Prep/20-19, Myrtle Beach Prep/32-0 & 46-8, Georgia Prep/26-6, Ahop Christian Academy/34-9). High School: Booked a combined 63 stops, a tackle for lost yardage, six interceptions, 35 pass breakups and a pair of fumble recoveries during his last two prep campaigns for coach Steve Burdeau at Lee County ... Earned second-team all-state honors by MaxPreps.com as a senior after helping lead the Yellow Jackets to a 15-1 record and a spot in the state title game ... Tallied 41 tackles, four picks, 20 pass breakups and a fumble recovery on defense, while making 23 receptions for 445 yards and nine touchdowns offensively as a senior in 2019 ... Played key role for a LCHS program that rolled to an 11-1 mark, captured a conference championship and made a state playoff appearance as a junior ... Collected 22 stops, two interceptions, 15 batted passes and a fumble scoop in 2018 ... Also caught eight passes for 133 yards and two scores, while averaging 29.3 yards per kickoff return during junior year ... A three-star prospect who was rated as the No. 56 player in North Carolina according to 247Sports Composite ... Was also tabbed as the state’s No. 40 overall player per ESPN.com ... Earned additional varsity letters as a track & field standout ... Also recruited by Air Force, Appalachian State, Georgia State, Georgia Southern, Liberty and Tulane as a prep prospect. Personal: Son of Jerry and Trista Chalmers.

Canaan Clark, OL, 6-6, 310, Fr., Cumming, Ga. (Forsyth Central HS)

Verbally committed to East Carolina on July 11, 2020. High School: A two-time all-county performer as a two-way starter for coach Frank Hepler at Forsyth Central, which competed in Region 6 (Class 7A) ... As a tight end, helped Bulldogs to a 4-4 mark in 2020 and played key role for a unit that averaged 178.1 rushing yards per game ... As a defensive tackle, tallied 29 stops (12 solo), 2.0 TFLs and two quarterback hurries ... Logged a season-high six tackles on three occasions as a senior (vs. Loganville, Gainesville and North Forsyth), while booking five against Cambridge ... Played in eight contests during junior campaign (TE/DE) ... Bulldogs averaged 175.0 ground yards per game in 2019 ... Credited with 30 tackles (15 solo), 4.0 TFL, three QB pressures, a pass breakup and a blocked punt (Clarkston) ... Contributed at least three stops in each outing, including a season-best six against North Forsyth ... Also on receiving end of a two-point conversion vs. Lambert ... Played primarily on the defensive line as a sophomore to earn first varsity letter, recording 15 tackles (four solo) as the Bulldogs went 7-4 ... A three-star prospect according to 247Sports Composite and ESPN.com ... Earned two stars from Rivals.com ... Also recruited by Georgia State.

Jacob Coleman, TE, 6-4, 215, Fr., Chesterfield, Va. (Matoaca HS)

Verbally committed to East Carolina on July 3, 2020. High School: Did not compete as a senior as season was postponed due to COVID-19 ... A four-year varsity letterman at Matoaca who experienced action at a multitude of positions, including quarterback, running back, tight end, fullback, outside receiver, outside linebacker and punter ... Primarily played at tight end as a junior for coach Jay Parker, making 35 receptions for 391 yards (11.2 ypr) and four touchdowns to guide the Warriors to a 5-5 mark (after opening the campaign winning four of their first five) ... Defensively, made eight tackles, 2.0 TFL, a sack, a forced fumble and blocked a field goal attempt ... Also returned five kickoffs for 60 yards ... Earned First-Team All-Region 5B honors on offense and was a second-team selection on special teams as a punter, averaging 38.5 yards per boot (and exceeding the 40 ypp clip in five separate contests, including a 47.0 performance vs. Prince George) ... Top pass catching outings came against Meadowbrook (4-103, 2 TD), Hopewell (8-66), Dinwiddie (5-64), Varina (5-24) and Petersburg (4-66, 1 TD) ... A consensus three-star selection according 247Sports Composite, Rivals.com and ESPN.com ... Listed among the Top 25 recruits in Virginia per Rivals.com (22nd) and 247Sports.com (24th) ... In addition to ECU, recruited by FBS programs Boston College, Buffalo, Coastal Carolina, Kent State, Liberty, Massachusetts, Ohio, Old Dominion, Rutgers and Temple. Personal: Younger brother of current Pirate defensive back and special teams performer Jonathan Coleman, who played in six games and logged two tackles as a redshirt freshman in 2020.

Avery Durham, DL, 6-7, 305, Fr., Yadkinville, N.C (Forbush HS)

Verbally committed to East Carolina on December 3, 2020. High School: Did not play as a senior during the 2020 fall semester as season was postponed due to COVID-19 ... Experienced action in a combined 13 contests as a two-way starter on both lines of scrimmage for the Falcons during his sophomore and junior seasons at Forbush ... Defensively, tallied 42 tackles (21 solo) with 11.0 stops for lost yardage, which included 4.0 sacks during those two campaigns for coach Chris Johnson ... Also credited with a pair of batted passes ... Turned in a 22-tackle (10 solo) performance as a junior in 2019, adding 8.0 TFLs and three sacks ... As a sophomore, recorded 20 stops (11 solo) and contributed 3.0 TFLs along with a one-yard sack in 2018.

D.J. Ford, DB, 6-3, 215, Gr., Ashland, Ala. (Clay Central HS/North Carolina)Verbally committed to East Carolina on December 11, 2020 ... Will officially enroll early at ECU (January, 2021) and is expected to participate with the Pirates in spring drills … Has one year of eligibility remaining ... Originally a member of North Carolina’s 2016 signing class and played in the Tar Heels’ program for four seasonsUNC (career): Helped UNC post 20 wins and was part of two bowl appearances during his time in Chapel Hill ... Appeared in 33 games and made 11 starts ... Tallied 72 tackles (38 solo), four pass breakups and three quarterback pressures ... Also credited with 2.5 TFLs (-11 yards), which included one sack (-7 yards) ... Added an interception, a forced fumble and recovery along with a blocked field goal attempt. 2020: Did not play (opted out prior to the beginning of the season). 2019: Experienced action in 13 games and made seven starts in the secondary ... Booked 54 tackles, 2.5 TFLs, one sack, three hurries, two breakups, one fumble recovery and one interception ... Logged a career-high 12 tackles and a fumble recovery at Virginia Tech ... Credited with six stops and a QBH against Duke ... Other notable outings include five-tackle performances vs. South Carolina, Wake Forest, Virginia, Pittsburgh and Appalachian State ... Collected four hits vs. Miami and two vs. Clemson ... Picked off his first career pass during road win at Georgia Tech and registered first sack against Cavaliers. 2018: Appeared in nine contests, starting two ... Tallied 15 tackles, two pass breakups and a forced fumble ... Recorded a season-high five stops and a batted pass at Duke, while contributing three tackles in tilts against East Carolina and Miami ... Had single stops vs. California, Pittsburgh, Virginia and Western Carolina ... Broke up other pass at Syracuse and forced a fumble at Virginia. 2017: Played in opener against California before suffering a season-ending injury (redshirted). 2016: Notched three tackles (one solo) while playing in 10 games as a true freshman ... Credited with a blocked field goal in a 48-20 win over Georgia Tech. High School: Started at safety on defense and split end on offense for coach Kris Herron at Clay Central ... Topped the team in tackles and intercepted three passes ... Earned all-area honors as a senior in 2015 and was selected to the PrepStar All-Southeast Region squad ... A consensus three-star prospect according to ESPN.com247Sports.com and Rivals.com ... Beta Club member. Personal: Son of John Garrett and Asheika Ford.

Ryan Jones, TE, 6-2, 231, Jr., Charlotte, N.C (Mallard Creek HS/Oklahoma)

Originally a member of Oklahoma’s 2017 signing class and played in the Sooners’ program for three seasons (18 games) ... Opened collegiate career on defense (OLB) but is expected to move to tight end upon arrival at ECU … Will officially enroll early at ECU (January, 2021) and is expected to participate with the Pirates in spring drills2020: Did not compete while completing transfer requirements. 2019: Recorded nine total tackles (eight solo) and one interception in seven contests at Oklahoma ... Notched a season-high four solo stops vs. American Athletic Conference member Houston in the season opener ... Followed with two tackles at Kansas State and single hits against Kansas and Texas Tech ... Netted first career interception and added a solo tackle at UCLA. 2018: Experience action in 11 games and made three starts as a redshirt freshman ... Booked 19 tackles, 2.5 resulting in lost yardage ... Opened contests against Florida Atlantic (first career start), Army and Texas Tech ... Established a career-best with eight stops and a TFL against the Black Knights ... Contributed six tackles, one behind the line of scrimmage, vs. UCLA ... Collected two tackles in Sooners’ debut against FAU and matched total again vs. Kansas State. 2017: Redshirted as a true freshman ... Signed as a defensive back. High School: Rated as a four-star recruit by ESPN.comRivals.com and Scout.com, and a three-star prospect by 247Sports.com ... Stood among the nation’s Top 175 (171) overall players according to ESPN.com ... Tabbed as the 24th-best receiver in the nation by ESPN.com, 49th by Rivals.com and 50th by Scout.com ... Ranked as the No. 50 athlete nationally per 247Sports.com ... Among North Carolina recruits, earned a No. 2 standing by ESPN.com, No. 10 by Rivals.com and No. 50 by 247Sports.com ... A USA Today First-Team All-State selection ... Offensively, logged 31 catches for 541 yards and seven touchdowns, while tallying 21 tackles and four pass breakups as a defender in the secondary during senior campaign ... Had 23 receptions for 679 yards and seven scores as a junior ... Initially chose Oklahoma over Clemson, Florida, North Carolina and others.

Troy Lewis, WR, 6-3, 195, Fr., Chesterfield, Va. (Matoaca HS)

Verbally committed to East Carolina on July 6, 2020. High School: Did not compete as a senior as season was postponed (COVID-19) ... Selected as Matoaca’s Offensive Player of the Year and earned Third-Team All-Region 5B honors as a junior for coach Jay Parker ... Made 35 receptions for 672 yards (19.2 ypr) and five touchdowns in 10 games during the 2019 campaign as the Warriors posted a 5-5 record ... Outings of note came in successive contests against Meadowbrook (6-107, TD) and Dinwiddie (6-105) ... Pulled in a 70-yard scoring grab vs. Varina before finishing with 99 yards on three catches ... Added 96 yards and a TD (five receptions) vs. Hopewell ... Caught at least one pass in all 10 outings and had three or more receptions on nine occasions ... Defensively, tallied 16 tackles (13 solo), one interception (33-yard return for a TD vs. Colonial Heights) and one forced fumble that resulted in a safety ... Booked four tackles in contests vs. Powhatan and Petersburg ... Also returned a pair of kickoffs for 12 yards ... Earned starting position and lettered as a sophomore after spending freshman season on junior varsity unit ... Rated as a three-star prospect according to 247Sports Composite and ESPN.com ... Earned two stars from Rivals.com ... Ranked among the Top 50 (44) recruits in the state of Virginia per 247Sports.com ... Also recruited by other FBS programs Air Force, Charlotte, Coastal Carolina, Kent State, Liberty, Massachusetts, Navy, Old Dominion, Rice, Western Michigan (along with a number of Ivy League schools).

T.J. Lockley, WR, 6-0, 175, Fr., Daytona Beach, Fla. (Mainland HS)

Verbally committed to East Carolina on September 1, 2020. High School: A key performer for coach Brooke Wilson’s Buccaneers, who finished the 2020 season with an 8-2 mark after opening the state 6A playoffs with wins over Gainesville and Matanzas ... Racked up 1,528 total yards in nine contests as a senior ... Completed 85-of-160 passes for 1,071 yards and 13 touchdowns with a long of 75, while rushing for 410 yards on 69 carries (5.9 ypr) and one TD ... Also caught three passes for 47 yards and a pair of scores, and contributed on special teams with two kickoff returns (16 yards) and one punt return (18) ... Passed for 100-plus yards on five occasions, which included a career-best 213-yard, 5-TD outing (15-of-26) vs. Matanzas in second-round playoff action ... Was a combined 30-of-50 for 377 yards and seven scores in the first two postseason contests ... Added 107 rushing yards on 18 carries vs. Matanzas (320 total yards), which topped a regular-season high of 85 yards (four attempts) against Deltona ... Had receptions vs. New Smyrna Beach, The Bolles School and Deltona ... Earned Daytona Beach News-Journal All-Area honors as a senior and junior ... Helped Bucs to a 6-5 record and second-round playoff appearance as a junior in 2019 ... Racked up 1,132 all-purpose yards (193 rushing, 673 receiving, 266 kickoff returns) and 1,166 total yards ... Was 24-of-48 passing for 300 yards and four TDs, while averaging 8.0 yards per rush (24-193, 2 TD) and 20.0 yards per reception (29-673, 7 TD) ... Recorded 266 kickoff return yards on 10 attempts and scored on an 89-yarder ... Opened prep career as a two-year starting quarterback at Father Lopez High School during freshman and sophomore seasons ... A key member of coach Matt Knauss’ Green Wave program that produced a 9-3 mark and reached the second round of the state playoffs in 2018 ... Rushed for 77 yards and threw for another 98 (and two touchdowns) as a freshman in 2017 when Father Lopez went 6-4 ... Awarded three stars by both 247Sports.com and ESPN.com ... Rated as a two-star prospect by Rivals.com ... Also considered FBS programs Appalachian State, Boston College, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Central Michigan, Cincinnati, Coastal Carolina, Connecticut, Florida International, Florida Atlantic, Illinois, Kansas, Kent State, Liberty, Marshall, Middle Tennessee State, Rutgers, South Alabama, Southern Mississippi, Temple, Toledo, Troy, Tulane, UAB, Utah and Western Kentucky before opting to sign with the Pirates.

Laith Marjan, PK/P, 6-3, 194, Fr., Cary, N.C. (Enloe HS)

Verbally committed to East Carolina on December 14, 2020. High School: Did not play as a senior during the 2020 fall semester as season was postponed due to COVID-19 ... Selected as the Eagles’ team captain prior to the postponement ... Earned a pair of varsity letters for coach Nick Night at Enloe in 2018 and 2019 ... Connected on 14-of-22 field goal tries and 69-of-75 PAT attempts in 23 contests as a sophomore and junior during two-year career as EHS’s top specialist ... Also kicked off 113 times for 4,532 yards with 33 touchbacks and logged 70 punts for 2,489 yards (35.6 avg.), landing the ball inside the opponents’ 20-yard line on 24 occasions ... Tallied 111 career points ... An eight-time MaxPreps.com Player-of-the-Game honoree ... During junior campaign, hit 11-of-14 FGAs with a long of 46 against Southeast Raleigh ... Made 40-of-41 PATs with a season-high of six twice (South Garner, Apex) ... Recorded multiple PATs in a game nine times in 2019 ... Accumulated 73 total points, reaching double-digits twice (15 vs. Apex, 11 vs. Southeast Raleigh) ... Delivered 68 kickoffs for 2,786 yards and 27 TBs with a career-high of 11 coming vs. South Garner ... Established a personal-best 493 kickoff yards (with five touchbacks) against Apex ... Cleared 32 punts for 1,209 yards (37.8 avg), placing 13 inside the 20-yard line ... As a sophomore, connected on 3-of-8 FGAs with a long of 38 yards against Apex Friendship ... Successfully made 29-of-34 PATs, which included six against Sanderson ... In all, made at least one PAT in 11 games (multiple seven times) in 2018 ... Kicked off 45 times for 1,746 yards and six TBs ... Added 38 punts for 1,280 yards (33.7 avg.), putting 11 inside the 20 ... A two-star prospect according to Rivals.com ... Received additional offers from Air Force, Army and Oklahoma.

Joseph McKay, RB, 6-0, 216, Fr., Phenix City, Ala. (Central HS)

Verbally committed to East Carolina on December 10, 2020. High School: A key figure in Central’s success that included a four-year record of 44-9 (22-2 in league play), two state championship game appearances and one title ... Averaged 7.2 yard per carry (259-1,859) and accounted for 30 touchdowns during his first three seasons of varsity action under coach Jamey DuBose from 2017 to 2019 ... Earned inclusion on Sports Illustrated’s 2020 Preseason All-America squad and was listed among Alabama’s Top 30 prospects per MaxPreps.com heading into his senior campaign ... Helped Red Devils to an 8-5 overall record (5-1 league) and a state 7A semifinals appearance under first-year head coach Patrick Nix ... Tallied 200-plus ground yards in outings vs. Enterprise (13-208, 2 TD) and Prattville (16-200, 2 TD) ... A second-team all-state pick as a junior, rushing for 1,263 yards and 20 touchdowns on 178 attempts (7.1 ypr) to help guide CHS to the 7A state championship game and an 11-3 overall mark (5-1 league) ... Became the first Red Devil in program history to have three 200-plus-yard rushing games in one season ... Ran for a personal-best 245 yards vs. Opelika, 221 vs. Auburn and 208 vs. Enterprise (scored on runs of 90 and 61 yards against Opelika and tallied five ground scores in matchup vs. Auburn) in 2019 ... Other notable effort was a 170-yard night against Hoover ... Also caught six passes out of the backfield for 22 yards and a TD ... As a sophomore, helped play integral role in CHS’s state championship and undefeated season (14-0, 6-0) in 2018 ... Picked up 299 rushing yards and five touchdowns on 53 carries (5.6 ypr) ... Added 105 yards on 12 attempts vs. Park Crossing and contributed two ground scores against Prattville ... Caught three passes for 23 yards ... Experienced significant action as a freshman in 2017, playing in six games and rushing for 297 yards and four touchdowns on 28 carries (10.6 ypr) as the Red Devils posted an 11-1 record (6-0 in league action) and made a deep run into the state playoffs ... Turned in his first century-mark ground effort, racking up 119 yards and three TDs on eight attempts against Enterprise ... Utilized on special teams as a kick returner (4-89) ... Earned 15-plus FBS scholarship offers, which included Alabama, Arkansas, Florida State, LSU, Memphis, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Texas A&M and others ... A three-star recruit by 247Sports.comRivals.com and ESPN.com ... Rated as the 58th-best running back nationally and 38th-best player in Alabama in the 2021 class per 247Sports.com ... Cited as the 16th-best athlete (state) and No. 33 running back (nationally) according to ESPN.com ... Rivals.com rankings include 28th (state prospect) and 35th (national running backs).

Kingston McKinstry, DB, 6-1, 190, Soph., Grove City, Ohio (Grove City HS/Iowa Central CC)

Verbally committed to East Carolina on December 12, 2020 ... Will have three years of eligibility remaining. Junior College: Did not compete as a sophomore during the 2020 fall semester as season was postponed due to COVID-19 ... Expected to participate in an eight-game 2021 spring season for coach Jesse Mantalto and the Tritons (March 27-May 22) ... Played in nine games as a freshman in 2019, booking 21 tackles (17 solo), 2.5 TFLs and four pass breakups ... Led ICCC to a 7-6 record, a conference championship (following wins over Iowa Western and Ellsworth) and a 31-28 victory over Nassau CC in the Graphic Edge Bowl ... Produced a season-best four stops (all solo) vs. Highland CC (regular season) and Nassau CC (bowl) ... Also added three hits against Garden City CC ... Tallied at least one tackle in eight of nine contests ... Rated as the No. 7 junior college safety nationally according to ESPN.com ... A three-star JuCo prospect and the No. 5 safety in the country per 247Sports.comHigh School: Earned three prep letters at Grove City as a key defensive standout for the Greyhounds ... Recruited primarily by Ball State and Toledo out of high school.

Richard Pearce, OL, 6-3, 305, Fr., Hueytown, Ala. (Hueytown HS)

Verbally committed to East Carolina on July 30, 2020 … Will officially enroll early at ECU (January, 2021) and is expected to participate with the Pirates in spring drillsHigh School: A four-year letterman and two-year full-time starter for coach Greg Patterson and the Golden Gophers ... Credited with playing a key interior role for a HHS program that advanced to postseason and rolled to a combined 17-0 record in the highly-regarded Region 4 (Class 6A) during sophomore, junior and senior years ... Top campaign was an 11-2 mark (6-0 region) in 2019 in which the Golden Gophers downed Selma and Eufaula in the first two round of the playoffs and garnered a No. 24 state rank ... Cited as one of the top blockers for Roydell Williams, one of the nation’s top running back prospects who rushed for 1,289 yards before signing with Alabama ... Initially was projected as a defensive lineman at the start of his prep career before moving to the offensive side of the ball as a freshman and experiencing significant snaps as a sophomore ... Selected to participate in the annual Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic ... Rated as a three-star prospect according to 247Sports Composite and listed among Alabama’s Top 50 recruits ... Also earned three stars from ESPN.com and was designated two stars per Rivals.com ... Chose East Carolina over Middle Tennessee State among others.

Walter Simmons III, QB, 6-2, 180, Fr., Orange Park, Fla. (Oakleaf HS)

Verbally committed to East Carolina on August 1, 2020 … Will officially enroll early at ECU (January, 2021) and is expected to participate with the Pirates in spring drills. High School: A four-year starter as a dual-threat quarterback for Oakleaf from 2017 to 2020 ... Accounted for 2,274 total yards and 28 touchdowns as a senior while leading the Knights to a 7-4 record and second-round playoff appearance under coach Frank Garis ... Completed 128-of-235 passes for 1,747 yards and 20 touchdowns ... Had a long completion of 71 yards vs. Camden County ... Tossed three TDs in a game on three occasions (Fleming Island, Mandarin, Clay) and surpassed 200 yards three times (20-of-33 for 316 vs. Lowndes, 13-of-20 for 251 vs. Clay and 13-of-30 for 238 vs. Camden County) ... Rushed for 527 yards on 108 carries (4.9 ypr) with eight scores ... Top ground outing was a regular season matchup vs. Bartram Trail (17-156, 2 TD, long of 80), while another notable effort came against the same opponent in a postseason clash (13-75) ... Eclipsed 50-plus rushing yards in five contests ... Charged with just two fumbles all season ... Had key role in the Knights’ 7-3 campaign in 2019 as a junior ... Produced a pair of 200-yard passing performances - 15-of-23 for 291 yards with four TD vs. Orange Park and 9-of-12 for 215 yards and a TD vs. Nease ... Rushing efforts of note was a four-carry, 117-yard, one-score outing against Gainesville and a 151-yard (20 attempts) night vs. Sandalwood ... Accounted for 300 of OHS’s 396 total yards during a 34-20 victory over Clay ... Passed for 2,187 yards (141-of-287) and 18 TDs, while adding 210 rushing yards (75 carries) and four ground scores during sophomore campaign in 2019 ... Authored five 200-plus-yard passing outings and surpassed the 300-yard milestone twice - 15-of-31 for 318 yards and four TDs vs. Vanguard, 16-of-30 for 302 yards vs. Bartram Trail ... Picked up 74 rushing yards on eight attempts in the playoff opener vs. Lincoln to headline top ground effort ... Began prep career as a starter for coach Steve Reynolds, completing 87-of-197 passes for 1,108 yards and five touchdowns in 2017 ... Was 10-of-25 for 146 yards and a TD in prep debut vs. Camden County and followed with five other triple-digit aerial performances, which included a season-best 224-yard effort vs. Vanguard ... A consensus three-star prospect (247Sports.comRivals.comESPN.com) ... Rated No. 18 among all dual-threat quarterbacks nationally per ESPN.com (33rd by 247Sports.com) ... Also recruited by Central Florida, Coastal Carolina, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Georgia Tech, Illinois, LSU, Marshall, Memphis, Old Dominion, South Florida, Southern Miss, UAB, Virginia, Virginia Tech and West Virginia. Personal: Grandfather (Walter Simmons, Sr.) was a defensive end at Edward Waters College, an NAIA school in Jacksonville, while father (Simmons, Jr.) was a defensive tackle for Bethune-Cookman ... Made the transition to quarterback at age 11 after beginning Pop Warner career as a defensive end and linebacker.

Jacoby Simpson, ILB, 6-0, 225, Soph., Houston, Texas (Aldine-MacArthur HS/TCU/Cisco CC)

Verbally committed to East Carolina on September 4, 2020 ... Will have three years of eligibility remaining ... Will officially enroll early at ECU (January, 2021) and is expected to participate with the Pirates in spring drills … Originally a member of TCU’s 2018 signing class and played in the Horned Frogs’ program for two seasons (11 games). Junior College: Did not compete as a sophomore during the 2020 fall semester as season was postponed due to COVID-19 ... Rated as the No. 4 junior college inside linebacker nationally according to ESPN.com ... Also recruited by SMU, Texas Tech and Tulsa out of junior college. 2019: Experienced action in seven contests as a redshirt freshman at TCU, playing in tilts against Iowa State, Kansas State, Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma State, Baylor and Texas Tech ... Tallied lone tackle of campaign vs. Jayhawks. 2018: Played in four games as a true freshman, primarily on special teams, to preserve redshirt season ... Made collegiate debut in Week 2 against SMU before competing in the season’s final three games against Baylor, Oklahoma State and California in the 2018 Cheez-It Bowl (which the Horned Frogs won 10-7 in OT) ... Booked two solo tackles against the Mustangs. High School: A four-year all-district selection and an Associated Press Class 6A All-State (honorable mention) choice as a senior at Aldine-MacArthur ... Tallied 116 tackles (76 solo), 19.0 TFLs, eight sacks, three forced fumbles and two interceptions during senior season in 2017 ... Garnered MacArthur “Overall Player-of-the-Game” honors on four occasions as a senior and garnered top defensive accolades once ... A three-star prep prospect according to 247Sports.com, which also ranked him as the No. 3 inside linebacker in Texas and No. 28 in the nation ... Chose TCU over Kansas State, Texas Tech, Arkansas, Louisville and Arizona State during initial recruiting process.

Cruz Temple, DB, 5-11, 205, Fr., Abbeville, S.C. (Abbeville High School)

Verbally committed to East Carolina on June 10, 2020 … Will officially enroll early at ECU (January, 2021) and is expected to participate with the Pirates in spring drills. High School: A key defender for a powerful prep program that has amassed an impressive 51-2 combined record, advanced to four state championship game appearances and captured two titles since 2017 under legendary coach Jamie Nickles ... Helped lead the Panthers to a perfect 10-0 record in 2020 ahead of Friday’s South Carolina Class AA Championship tilt against Marion ... Has anchored a unit that has posted seven shutouts, allowed just 38 total points (3.8 ppg) and owns a 437-point scoring margin (475-38) ... AHS opened 2020 playoff action with wins over Batesburg-Leesville (56-0), Chesnee (32-7) and Gray Collegiate Academy (28-10) before the title matchup ... As the Panthers’ starting safety in 2019, spearheaded a defense that surrendered only 11.9 points per game on the way to a 13-1 record and a state finals showing ... After downing Lewisville (85-22), Andrew Jackson (37-0) and Gray Collegiate Academy (38-35), Abbeville was upset by Saluda (32-28) in the championship tilt ... ... Logged 35 tackles, 2.0 TFL, two pass breakups and forced a fumble despite missing three contests due to an injury ... Earned All-Lakelands Region honors and was a South Carolina High School Coaches Association First-Team All-State selection ... Also used as a short-yardage back offensively during junior campaign ... Part of AHS’s 14-0 season in 2018 that culminated with a state championship- clinching 48-14 triumph over Barnwell ... Netted five interceptions, three of those coming during the Panthers’ postseason run ... Defensively, Abbeville limited its opponents to just 9.6 points per game in 2018 ... Began prep career on the junior varsity as a freshman in 2017, but was promoted to varsity unit after his first four contests and helped AHS compile a 14-1 record and claim another state championship trophy following a 14-7 decision over Bamberg-Ehrhardt ... Rated as a three-star prospect according to 247Sports.com and ESPN.com ... Designated as a two-star recruit per Rivals.com ... Ranked among the Top 35 prospects in the state of South Carolina by 247Sports.com ... Also received offers from Air Force, Army, Coastal Carolina, Georgia Southern, Georgia State and Navy. Personal: Began playing football at age seven, following in familial footsteps ... Father (Tony), who currently serves as an assistant coach on the Abbeville staff, was a walk-on at South Carolina, while older brother (Nate) was a Shrine Bowl All-Star Game participant and is now a redshirt freshman defensive end at Atlantic Coast Conference member Pittsburgh.

Julius Wood, DB,  6-2, 196, Soph., Columbus, Ohio (Walnut Ridge HS/Blinn CC)

Verbally committed to East Carolina on December 12, 2020 ... Will have three years of eligibility remaining ... Originally a member of Miami’s (Ohio) 2019 signing class but never experienced action with the RedHawks before transferring to Blinn (Texas). Junior College: Did not compete as a sophomore during the 2020 fall semester as season was postponed due to COVID-19 ... Played in nine games as a true freshman and tallied 36 stops (13 solo) ... Collected at least one tackle in all nine games and recorded multiple hits on seven occasions ... Credited with 1.5 TFLs (-13 yards) ... Recovered fumbles against Rezolution Prep Academy and Cisco College, while also blocking a kick in a matchup against RPA ...  Logged a 10-yard TFL at Kilgore and a half TFL at New Mexico Military Institute (-3 yards). High School: A two-time all-state and first-team all-district selection for coach Bryan Mattox at Walnut Ridge ... Named to the 2018 All-Ohio Preps Sports Writers Association squad (second-team) ... Was a two-way starter as a junior and senior (defensive back, wide receiver) ... Defensively, booked a combined 190 stops (94 solo) in 22 games during the 2017 and 2018 campaigns ... Added 8.5 sacks (-54 yards) and intercepted a pair of passes (18 return yards) ... On the offensive end, caught 45 passes for 709 yards and 13 scores ... Contributed 275 kickoff return yards for a two-year total of 1,002 yards ... A six-time MaxPreps.com Player-of-the-Game recipient ... Rated as a three-star prospect by 247Sports.com and a two-star recruit by Rivals.com ... Also earned varsity letters as a track & field standout ... An Honor Roll student in the classroom.

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