GREENVILLE, N.C. – Third-year ECU Head Football Coach Scottie Montgomery announced Wednesday that 19 student-athletes have signed a national letter-of-intent with the Pirates.
The NCAA’s newly-implemented early football signing period, which now enables high school prospects to ink with collegiate programs in December, extends through Friday.
Some notables about ECU’s 2018 initial signing class:
Of the 19 newcomers, 13 are projected to play on the defensive side of the ball, while the remaining six (6) will line up on offense. Defensively, ECU is looking forward to bulking up its secondary by adding seven defensive backs, including two junior college transfers, while also addressing its front seven with a trio of linemen and linebackers each. On offense, the Pirates signed a pair of linemen, two wide receivers, one quarterback and a tight end.
BUILDING BY DEVELOPING
Freshmen (17) compose nearly 90 percent of ECU’s early signing class. The Pirates’ two junior college transfers – Warren Saba (3) and Michael Witherspoon (2) have a combined five seasons of eligibility remaining as well.
In addition to Saba and Witherspoon, seven incoming freshmen are expected to enroll early at ECU (January, 2018) and participate in spring drills with the Pirates – QB Holton Ahlers, DB Myles Berry, DL Chandler Medeiros, OL Donovan Noel, DB Jaren Rainey, LB Xavier Smith and OL Peyton Winstead.
Montgomery and his staff’s strong relationships with in-state high school coaches enabled ECU to maintain its notable regional flavor. A total of 13 of the 19 signees hail from prep programs in North Carolina (68 percent), while Virginia (two), Florida (one), Georgia (one), Ohio (one) and South Carolina (one) were also represented.
“While we certainly addressed talent, speed and athleticism, which are vital to successfully compete in the American Athletic Conference, we also gained a class of young men with character who epitomize our core values. A program is built with quality people and this group is a testament to that. I’m proud of our staff and the battles we fought, and I look forward to the future with a great deal of anticipation and optimism.”
THE FUTURE & THE PAST
The Pirates return six starters on offense and seven on defense when spring drills open February 19. ECU will host North Carolina A&T on Sept. 1 to kick off the 2018 season. The Pirates posted a 3-9 overall mark and stood tied for fourth in the American Athletic Conference’s East Division during Montgomery’s second campaign as head coach in 2017.
2018 ECU FOOTBALL EARLY SIGNEE BIOS
Holton Ahlers, QB, 6-3, 228, Fr., Greenville, N.C. (D.H. Conley HS)
Will officially enroll early at ECU (January, 2018) and is expected to participate with the Pirates in spring drills. High School: A four-year starter and team captain who led D.H. Conley to four consecutive playoff appearances and three conference titles … Closed prep career as one of the top statistical quarterbacks in North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) history, finishing as the state’s third all-time leading passer (11,198 yards) and second in total offense (14,784) … Also stood third in touchdowns responsible for (201) and pass TDs (145), while ranking fifth in pass completions (670) and sixth in pass attempts (1,157) … Additionally, rushed for 3,586 yards and recorded 56 ground scores … Suffered only 28 interceptions during entire career – an average of just one per 41 pass attempts … A three-year all-conference (first-team) selection and two-time conference player-of-the-year and team MVP pick … Twice named to the Greenville Daily Reflector’s First-Team All-Conference squad, while earning Raleigh News & Observer All-Metro Quarterback honors in 2016 and 2017 … As a senior under coach Nate Conner, helped lead the Vikings to an Eastern Carolina 3A/4A Conference title (6-0 record) and a third-round appearance in the state playoffs … Accounted for 75 overall touchdowns in 2017, which was the second-highest single-season total in NCHSAA history, by throwing for 61 (fourth-best in the state record books) and rushing for 14 more … In all, completed 223-of-358 passes (62.3 percent) for 3,763 yards, while only getting picked off four times during senior campaign … Added 933 ground yards on the way to 4,696 yards of total offense … Reached the 300-yard passing mark six times in 13 contests with a season-high 464 vs. West Craven … Named the Pitt (N.C.) County Post Offensive Player-of-the-Year in 2017 … Invited to play in the prestigious Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas and earned MVP honors after leading North Carolina to a 55-24 win (156 yards on 11-of-18 passing, 32 rush yards on 12 carries) … An Associated Press All-State choice as a junior after racking up 5,414 total yards, which ranked fourth in the NCHSAA single-season annals … Also made a pair of sixth-place entries (66 TDs responsible for, 284 pass completions), one seventh-place standing (51 TD passes) and two eighth-place marks (460 pass attempts, 4,503 pass yards) … Was intercepted on just nine attempts … Rushed for 911 yards and 15 scores to complement aerial numbers … Established a state single-game total offense record with 618 yards during the Vikings’ 83-68 victory over C.B. Aycock, which bested his previous record of 581 set a week earlier (during a 77-67 loss to J.H. Rose) … Selected as the 252 ESPN Radio Player-of-the-Year … Passed for 2,457 yards and ran for another 1,142 as a sophomore to earn team MVP and all-county honors … Accounted for 42 total touchdowns in 2015 … Officially committed to ECU on Jan. 30, 2017 … Also recruited by Colorado State, Minnesota, NC State and West Virginia and a myriad of others … Rated a three-star prospect, was among the top 20 dual-threat quarterbacks nationally and the top-ranked signal-caller in the state according to multiple recruiting/scouting services … In addition to football (4), earned varsity letters in baseball (2) and basketball (2) … A two-time all-conference performer on the diamond. Personal: Full name is Holton Maddux Ahlers … Son of Morgan and Jill Ahlers … Born in Greenville, N.C. … Enjoys fishing and playing all sports … Established numerous Greenville Little League records, including most single-season home runs at age 12 … Persevered through personal losses, which included grandmother, best friend and two teammates, during high school career … Last name is pronounced AYE-lurrs.
Khalil Barrett, DB, 5-11, 200, Fr., Havelock, N.C. (Havelock HS)
High School: A four-year letterman and team captain for coach Caleb King at Havelock … Named 3A Coastal Conference Player-of-the-Year as a senior after helping lead Rams to a 14-2 record and the NCHSAA 3A State Championship Game … Rushed for 1,105 yards and 17 touchdowns on 96 carries – an average of 11.5 yards per attempt … Produced five 100-yard rushing contests (137 vs. West Craven, 112 vs. New Bern, 129 vs. Northside, 121 vs. Jacksonville and 158 vs. Western Alamance during playoff semifinals) … Also had a season-long rush of 74 yards and tallied three ground scores vs. the Warriors … Racked up 1,050 receiving yards and 13 TDs on 84 receptions (12.5 ypr) … Notable outing was a 19-reception, 153-yard effort vs. Jacksonville on Nov. 3 (to accompany 121-yard rushing night) … Booked three receiving scores vs. Rocky Mount and logged three two-TD performances (White Oak, Williams, Southern Nash) … In all, amassed 2,199 all-purpose yards and 30 touchdowns (180 points) in 2017 … Defensively, credited with eight tackles (six solo) and 1.5 TFLs … Used in more of a receiving and return role during junior campaign, finishing with 42 catches for 598 yards and five TDs to earn all-conference honors … Had six kickoff returns for 128 yards (21.3 ypr) with a long of 44 … Turned in a four-reception, 103-yard, two-TD contest vs. Jacksonville in 2016 … Also picked up 97 receiving yards (six grabs) vs. J.H. Rose … Booked five stops (two solo) on defensive side of the ball … Additionally, earned four letters as a guard on the basketball floor and was selected to all-conference unit on multiple occasions. Personal: Full name is Khalil Miguel Barrett … Born at New Bern, N.C. … Son of Michael and Lillian Barrett … Prefers nickname of Lillio … Related to former Penn State and NFL running back Eric McCoo … Enjoys playing basketball and spending time with friends … First name is pronounced kah-LEEL.
Myles Berry, DB, 6-1, 190, Fr., Greensboro, N.C. (Dudley HS)
Will officially enroll early at ECU (January, 2018) and is expected to participate with the Pirates in spring drills. High School: Earned three letters and served as a team captain for coach Steven Davis at Dudley … Credited with 33 tackles, three pass breakups and a 44-yard interception return as a senior despite only playing in just five games before suffering a season-ending injury on Sept. 29 against Southwest Guilford … Helped Panthers get off to a 5-0 start (before Dudley wrapped up the 2017 campaign with a 10-3 mark, which included a second-round North Carolina High School Athletic Association Playoff appearance) … Was a key part of DHS’s state championship squad (15-1) during junior year … Booked 78 tackles, knocked down 10 passes and netted three interceptions during the Panthers’ run to the 4A title …Recorded 26 stops, three pass thefts and four breakups during sophomore season in 2015 … Was a strong performer in the classroom, earning a prestigious academic letter and selection to the school’s honor roll … Rated as a three-star prospect by numerous recruiting/scouting publications … Officially committed to ECU on April 24, 2017 … Also recruited by Air Force, Appalachian State, Army and Navy, while receiving interest from Virginia Tech. Personal: Full name is Myles Vincent Berry … Son of Harold and Carolyn Berry … Born at Greensboro, N.C. … Uncle played collegiate football at Youngstown State and Memphis … Hobbies include spending time with family and friends, along with playing video games … Captured the Inline Speed Skating Championship as an eight-year-old in 2008.
Johnny Bogle, TE, 6-2, 252, Fr., Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. (Nease HS)
High School: A four-year letterman and two-way performer for a tradition-rich Nease program … Played end on the defensive side of the ball and the fullback-tight end position on offense for coach Tim Krause … Turned in the biggest statistical impact on defense as a senior, logging 34 overall tackles, six for lost yardage (TFL) and two sacks in eight games, but registered more offensive snaps as a blocking skills performer … Part of a Panthers’ program which turned in a 5-5 record in 2017 and finished second in Florida’s 6A District 4 standings (with a 3-1 mark) … Credited with 65 stops (32 solo) and 17.0 TFL during junior campaign … Officially committed to the ECU program on June 22, 2017 … Designated as a three-star prospect and among the Top 85 tight ends nationally according to recruiting/scouting services … Also recruited by Rutgers, Tulane, Appalachian State, Colorado State, UCF, Middle Tennessee, Southern Mississippi, Toledo and Western Kentucky … In addition to producing Florida greats Tim Tebow and Shane Matthews, Nease’s football alumni also features former Pirate Doug Polochak (offensive lineman who earned letters in 2010 and 2011, and was part of five overall bowl appearances beginning in 2006) … Also earned additional varsity letters as member of NHS’s weightlifting squad. Personal: Full name is John Francis Bogle III … Born at Lambertville, N.J. … Son of John and Stacy Bogle … Enjoys working out in weight room and playing video games … Cites actor Will Smith as one of the more notable celebrities he’s met (on set of I am Legend) … Last name is pronounced BOW-gul.
Damel Hickman, DB, 6-0, 166, Fr., Charlotte, N.C. (Butler HS)
High School: Earned three letters and served as a team captain for coach Brian Hales at Butler … Was an All-Southwestern 4A Conference selection as a junior and senior … Collected 45 tackles, a pair of sacks, 10 pass breakups and five interceptions in 2017 while playing a key role in the Bulldogs’ 8-3 record, a conference co-championship (with a 6-1 league mark) and trip to the state playoffs … Credited with 42 stops, eight deflections and three picks as a free safety during junior campaign in 2016, a year in which BHS compiled a 12-2 ledger … Opened sophomore season as captain of BHS’s junior varsity squad before earning a promotion to the varsity unit and responding with 20 tackles, five pass breakups and one interception … Officially committed to ECU on June 18, 2017 … Also earned track letters, competing in sprints and relays for the Bulldogs … Reportedly was clocked at 11.31 in the 100 meters. Personal: Full name is Damel Hickman … Born at Charlotte, N.C. … Son of Daniel Hickman and Melanie Taylor … Lists video games as hobby of choice … First name is pronounced deh-MELL.
Nolan Johnson, DB, 6-2, 190, Fr., High Point, N.C. (Southwest Guilford HS)
High School: A three-year starter and team captain in the Southwest Guilford secondary for coach Eric Rainey … Tallied 19 tackles, 10 pass breakups and one forced fumble in limited action (thumb injury) as a senior … Part of a Cowboys program which earned a runner-up finish in the Piedmont Triad 3A Conference (5-1 record) and advanced to the second round of the NCHSAA 3A Playoffs … Racked up 35 stops, nine pass deflections, four interceptions and a forced fumble in 2016 as a junior … Opened varsity career with 40 tackles, 11 pass breakups and a trio of picks during sophomore campaign … Earned invitation to represent North Carolina in the prestigious Shrine Bowl and participated at the 2017 Nike Combine … Officially made commitment to ECU on July 1, 2017 … Also recruited by Air Force, Appalachian State, Maryland and Yale … Earned multiple letters as a track standout, competing in the 100, 200, 400, 300 hurdles, long jump and on various relay teams (4×1, 4×2 and 4×4). Personal: Full name is Nolan Maximillion Johnson … Son of Jerome and Sabrina Johnson … Born at High Point, N.C. … Mother lettered in volleyball and track at Appalachian State … Enjoys watching Netflix.
Trey Love, DL, 6-3, 246, Fr., Greensboro, N.C. (Southeast Guilford HS)
High School: A three-year letterman and team captain for coach Kennedy Tinsley … Experienced action on both sides of the ball at Southeast Guilford as a senior … Anchored the Falcons’ defensive line at the end position and booked 38 tackles, including 13 for lost yardage (TFL), and six sacks … Offensively, used primarily as a blocker in the backfield, but did record one carry (three yards) and caught three passes for 10 yards and a TD … Helped lead Southeast Guilford to a 9-3 record, a second-place finish in the Mid-Piedmont 3-A Conference standings (5-1 ledger) and a first-round NCHSAA 3AA Playoff appearance … Booked 42 stops and nine sacks as a junior in 2016 … Rushed for 235 yards and a TD on 47 attempts, while also making a pair of receptions for 24 yards to bolster the Falcons’ offensive unit … Earned an invitation to travel to Texas for participation in the USAAA Combine … Officially committed to ECU on April 3, 2017 … Also offered by Charlotte and generated interest from Florida State and North Carolina … Picked up an additional two letters as a track & field standout who captured conference and regional titles in the shotput. Personal: Full name is Frank McArthur Love III … Born at Greensboro, N.C … Son of Shantell Coles … Lists playing football, working out and video games as most enjoyed activities.
D’Angelo McKinnie, DL, 6-4, 235, Fr., Kenansville, N.C. (Southwest Onslow HS)
High School: A team captain and key figure on Southwest Onslow’s defensive unit which rolled to a 2017 Coastal 1A/2A Conference championship with a perfect 7-0 league record … Also helped Stallions to the Eastern 2A finals before finishing with an overall mark of 11-4 as a senior … Prep coach was Charlie Dempsey, a four-year letterman on the offensive line for the Pirates who owned a starting streak of 36-straight contests between 2002 and 2004 … Credited with 52 tackles (18 solo), 14 TFLs, 5.5 sacks, four quarterback hurries and one fumble recovery during senior campaign to earn all-conference (first-team) honors … Game of note was a nine-tackle, six-TFL performance vs. White Oak during the Stallions’ 44-8 victory … Also selected to the all-conference unit (honorable mention) as a junior … Also experienced limited action on offensive unit as a tight tend … Reportedly was timed at 4.9 in the 40-yard dash … Participated in the 2017 Shrine Bowl Combine in Kinston, N.C. … Officially committed to the Pirates on June 13, 2017 … Also recruited by Wake Forest … Strong student in the classroom, earning membership into the National Honor Society and Beta Club. Personal: Full name is D’Angelo Lavonte McKinnie … Born at Kenansville, N.C. … Son of Carlos and Monique Roberts.
Chandler Medeiros, DL, 6-3, 252, Fr., Statesville, N.C. (South Iredell HS)
Will officially enroll early at ECU (January, 2018) and is expected to participate with the Pirates in spring drills. High School: A four-year varsity performer and team captain for coach Scott Miller and the Vikings … Keyed a South Iredell defense as a junior and senior, helping the program to second- and third-round NCHSAA Playoff appearances, respectively … Compiled 55 tackles, 10.5 TFL and seven sacks in 2017 while the Vikings captured the North Piedmont 3A Conference crown with a 5-0 league mark … Earned all-conference accolades and an invitation to represent North Carolina in the prestigious Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas All-Star clash … Settled into starter’s role as a junior in 2016 and tallied 62 stops, 8.0 tackles for lost yardage and 5.5 sacks while leading SIHS to a 9-4 ledger and state playoff showing … Battled for significant playing time during his first two seasons in the Viking program, appearing in a combined 10 contests … Booked 20 tackles, one for lost yardage, as a freshman before netting seven hits and a pair of sacks during sophomore year in 2015 as South Iredell captured a conference title … Made storybook debut on prep scene in 2014 with a fumble-producing tackle while Vikings were facing a first-and-goal snap from the five-yard line to preserve a 34-27 win against Hickory … Officially committed to ECU on June 16, 2017 after attending the Pirates’ summer camp … Also recruited by Charlotte and Old Dominion … Also earned four letters as a track & field standout … Was a state qualifier in the discus … Excelled academically with induction into the Beta Club. Personal: Full name is Chandler Medeiros … Born at Westerly, R.I. … Son of Louie Medeiros and Sandra Mihaltian … Enjoys lifting weights and playing video games … Last name is pronounced muh-DARE-us.
Juwan Moody, WR, 5-10, 165, Fr., Conway, S.C. (Conway HS)
High School: Served as Conway’s big-play receiver for three seasons … Played pivotal role for coach Carlton Terry and a Tiger program which turned in a 10-2 campaign and South Carolina Class 5A Region IV title (5-0 mark) in 2017 … Recorded 37 catches for 829 yards – an average of 22.4 yards per reception – and nine touchdowns as a senior to lead CHS to the second-round of the state playoffs … Also contributed 250 kickoff return yards and added 93 more on six rushing attempts to solidify spot on all-region squad … Notable outings during senior campaign include a nine-catch, 139-yard, two-touchdown effort vs. Wilson and a three-reception, 141-yard, two-score night vs. Socastee … As a junior in 2016, grabbed 31 passes for 673 yards (21.7 ypr) and nine TDs to help the Tigers to an 8-5 record and the Class 5A quarterfinals … Top performance of note was a 167-yard (five receptions) showing vs. South Florence … Returned 14 kickoffs for 285 yards and one TD (70-yarder) … Earned full-time starting assignment on varsity squad as a sophomore in 2015, while also providing a spark on special teams with a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown vs. Socastee … Played majority of freshman campaign on junior varsity unit, but was elevated to varsity squad to earn first of four letters … Officially committed to the Pirate program on June 18, 2017 after a standout performance during ECU’s annual Beast of the East 7-on-7 Passing Tournament … Picked up an additional eight varsity letters, four on basketball court as Tigers’ point guard and four more as a track performer in the 100, 200, 4×4 and 4×1. Personal: Full name is Juwan Tyree Moody … Born at Conway, S.C. … Son of Gregory and Kessey Moody … Comes from a family with athletic bloodlines as three brothers were prep standouts at CHS in football, basketball or both (Gregory Jr. Mykal and Jaylen) … Played alongside highly-heralded basketball prospect Zion Williamson on AAU team … Lists music and video games as top hobbies … Can showcase an impressive arsenal of basketball dunks despite 5-foot-10 frame … First name is pronounced juh-WAHN.
Donovan Noel, OL, 6-3, 257, Fr., Raleigh, N.C. (Millbrook HS)
Will officially enroll early at ECU (January, 2018) and is expected to participate with the Pirates in spring drills. High School: Played a role in four consecutive NCHSAA playoff appearances for coach Clarence Inscore and the Wildcats … Earned roster invitation to represent North Carolina in the prestigious Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas All-Star Game in December, 2017 … Picked up All-Cap 7 4A Conference honors as a senior team captain after leading MHS to a fourth-place league standing (3-3) and 6-7 overall record that included a second-round state playoff showing … Opened all 12 games as a junior and earned all-conference accolades as the Wildcats turned in a 7-5 mark in 2016 … Prior to an injury-shortened sophomore campaign (returned to start final two contests) in 2015, earned promotion to varsity unit as a freshman in 2014 and helped Millbrook to an 11-3 record which included a trip to the Eastern 4AA finals as current ECU quarterback Reid Herring’s teammate … Officially committed to the Pirates on June 26, 2017 … Also fielded offers from Appalachian State, Boston College, Buffalo, Charlotte, Colorado State, Georgia Southern, Georgia Tech, Old Dominion, Purdue and Syracuse. Personal: Full name is Donovan Noel … Born at Durham, N.C. … Son of Lee and Heather Noel … Lists drawing and video games as top hobbies … Admires the legacy of Ray Lewis, for both his on-field and philanthropic accomplishments … Last name is pronounced know-ELL.
Andre Pegues, WR, 6-3, 202, Fr., Raeford, N.C. (Hoke County HS)
High School: A four-year letterman, three-way player and team captain who admirably battled through an injury-plagued senior campaign in 2017, experiencing action in eight contests for the Bucks… Recorded 22 receptions for 224 yards and five touchdowns as a receiver on the offensive unit, while tallying five stops on the defensive side of the ball … Racked up 74 punt return yards as a member of the special teams unit for HCHS, which competed in the Sandhills 4A Conference … Prep coaches were Tom Paris and David Jorgensen, the latter being a two-year letterwinner (2002-03) on the Pirates’ offensive line … Attended the 2017 ECU Prospect Camp during the summer … Officially committed to ECU on June 6, 2017 … Received offers from Appalachian State and Princeton … Also earned three letters as a basketball standout at Hoke County, playing both the small and power forward positions … Outstanding student who was a three-time scholar-athlete award recipient. Personal: Full name is Andre Emmanuel Pegues … Born at Colorado Springs, Colo. … Son of Andre and Cherri Pegues … Father was a collegiate basketball player at the NCAA Division II level, while mother was a track letterwinner … Enjoys working out and participating in all sports … Last name is pronounced puh-GEESE.
Jaren Rainey, DB, 6-2, 190, Fr., High Point, N.C. (Southwest Guilford HS)
Will officially enroll early at ECU (January, 2018) and is expected to participate with the Pirates in spring drills. High School: A multi-purpose contributor on both sides of the ball at the prep level whose success was rewarded with an honorable invitation to represent North Carolina in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas All-Star Game … Earned three letters and served as team captain while playing for his father Eric Rainey … A two-time All-Piedmont Triad Conference selection … Valued as an integral part of a Cowboys program which earned a runner-up finish in the Piedmont Triad 3A Conference (5-1 record) and advanced to the second round of the NCHSAA 3A Playoffs before wrapping up an overall record of 9-4 in 2017 … As a senior quarterback, completed 28 of 71 passes for 426 yards and five touchdowns and was among team’s leading rushers with 424 yards and six scores on 51 carries … Also logged 10 receptions for 188 yards and a pair of TDs … Booked 11 tackles and netted one interception on defense … Performance of note was a 65-yard scoring run against Dudley that helped Southwest Guilford to a 34-6 win … Racked up 2,477 all-purpose yards as a junior to help Cowboys to a 7-5 record, the program’s first winning ledger since 1997 … Accounted for 1,857 yards and 14 TDs by completing 106 of 178 pass attempts (60 percent) during the 2016 campaign … Added 620 ground yards and seven scores on 67 attempts – an average of 9.3 yards per rush … Began prep career by leading junior varsity squad to the school’s first undefeated season in 17 years (2014) … Participated in the 2017 Shrine Bowl Combine during the summer … Officially committed to ECU on June 20 … Chose the Pirates over Army and several other programs. Personal: Full name is Jaren Seon Rainey … Born at Alexandria, Va. … Son of Eric and Jecobi Rainey … Father played collegiate football at Ferrum College and Towson … Counts Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton as a notable celebrity he’s met (during Newton’s 7-on-7 event in Charlotte).
Warren Saba, DB, 5-10, 170, Soph., Cleveland, Ohio (Benedictine HS/Garden City CC)
Will officially enroll early at ECU (January, 2018) and is expected to participate with the Pirates in spring drills. Junior College: Key member of the Broncbusters’ defense that helped Jeff Simms’ program roll to an 8-4 record and CHAMPS Heart of Texas Bowl appearance in 2017 … Credited with 71 total tackles (46 solo), 3.0 TFLs, sack, two forced fumbles, while leading the team with 22 pass breakup and five interceptions as a redshirt freshman – his only active season on the GCCC roster … Earned All-Jayhawk Conference (honorable mention) accolades and was selected to the Gridiron JC All-America squad… Also had three kickoff returns for 33 yards … Logged seven tackles, an interception return for 45 yards and lone sack (-11 yards) vs. Dodge City CC on Oct. 21 … Named Jayhawk Conference Defensive Player-of-the-Week for booking five solo stops, forcing a fumble, picking off a pair of passes (111 return yards) and contributing a game-preserving breakup on a two-point conversion against Butler CC on Sept. 30 … Other contests of note came vs. Independence CC (12 tackles) on Sept. 9, Hutchinson CC (11, along with 2.0 TFLs) on Sept. 16 and two other seven-hit performances vs. Iowa Western CC on Oct. 14 and Trinity Valley CC on Dec. 2 during bowl action … Returned pass theft 73 yards for a TD during a 69-0 victory over Fort Scott CC in the regular season finale on Nov. 11 … Closed season with 16 batted passes in last six outings, which included a season-high six against Trinity Valley during postseason clash … Part of a NJCAA national championship squad as a redshirt in 2016 … Reportedly was clocked at 4.48 in the 40-yard dash and 3.8 in the shuttle … Officially committed to ECU on Dec. 17, 2017 … Also considered Bowling Green, Buffalo, Eastern Michigan and Southern Mississippi …. Graduated from GCCC with a 3.5 grade point average. High School: Played integral role for a Benedictine team which captured three conference crowns, a pair of district titles and the 2014 Ohio Division IV state championship … A three-year letterman and team captain for coach Joe Schaefer, who currently serves on the Iowa State staff …Picked off eight passes to earn first-team all-district, all-conference and Associated Press All-State honors … Also chosen as the division’s defensive player-of-the-year and was named to the American Family Insurance All-USA NE Ohio Football squad as a senior cornerback for a Bengals’ squad that rolled to a 12-1 record … Notable highlights include returning a kickoff (87 yards) and an interception (43 yards) for touchdowns against Youngstown Ursuline early during the 2015 campaign … Added an 88-yard pick-six against Lake Catholic … Additionally, garnered first-team all-conference, all-district and all-state accolades as a junior in 2014 during state title-winning campaign … Earned prep track letter, competing in the 200 meters. Personal: Full name is Warren Saba … Born at Cleveland, Ohio … Son of Tom Saba and Janelle Riley … Last name is pronounced SAY-buh.
Xavier Smith, LB, 6-0, 237, Fr., Stafford, Va. (Brooke Point HS)
Will officially enroll early at ECU (January, 2018) and is expected to participate with the Pirates in spring drills. High School: Helped lead coach Tom Buzzo’s Brooke Point program on both sides of the ball, but turned in a pair honors-producing campaigns as a middle linebacker on defense … Earned co-defensive player-of-the-year and first-team all-district accolades while guiding the Black Hawks to a runner-up finish in the Commonwealth District standings with a 4-2 league mark in 2017 …BPHS, which also posted a 10-3 overall record, advanced to the third round of the Group 5A playoffs … Offensively, contributed at the running back position … Made impressive varsity debut as a sophomore starter and played key role in Brooke Point’s 9-3 ledger and second-round state playoff appearance … Earned First-Team All-Conference 15 honors in 2015 … Was sidelined for a significant part of his junior season in 2016 … Picked up additional letters as a track standout, competing in the 110- and 300-meter hurdles, as well as the shot put … Established personal bests of 15.47 seconds in the 110 hurdles, 43.21 in the 300 and 49 feet in the shot put … Officially committed to ECU on August 12 … Also considered offers from Charlotte, Connecticut, Marshall and Temple. Personal: Full name is Xavier Smith … Son of Tasha Smith and Freddie Howard … Older brothers Damontay and Quentel (Smith) also played for Buzzo and the Black Hawks.
Gerard Stringer, LB, 6-2, 188, Fr., Suffolk, Va. (Nansemond River HS)
High School: Earned a multitude of honors as a three-year starter and two-way player for coach David Coccoli at Nansemond River … Keyed a Warriors defense from the linebacking position with 107 tackles, two interceptions, a pair of forced fumbles and a blocked field goal to guide NRHS deep into the VHSL Group 5A playoffs before finishing with a 9-5 record in 2017 … A team captain who garnered defensive player-of-the-year, first-team all-district, all-region, All-Tidewater and all-state recognition as a senior … Helped Warriors to a fifth-place finish in Virginia’s Southeastern Region standings with a 5-4 mark … Made pronounced move to a top running back role late in the year heading into postseason play and delivered a 187-yard, two-touchdown performance in a regional semifinal victory over Indian River that send NRHS to the fourth round … A second-team and honorable mention all-conference selection as a junior and sophomore, respectively … Officially committed to ECU on June 5, 2017 … Also recruited by Army, Navy, Ohio and Rutgers … Picked up an additional four letters on the basketball floor as a shooting guard, small forward and power forward. Personal: Full name is Gerard Antonio Stringer … Born at Hampton, Va. … Son of Gerard Sr. and Kisha Stringer … Often goes by the nicknames of Rod or Woo … Uncle Germaine Stringer was a receiver and kick returner at Florida State in the late 1990s who signed with the Kansas City Chiefs … Enjoys drawing and playing basketball … Lists meeting former NBA great Scottie Pippen and trip to The Bahamas as a few off-the-field notables.
Jireh Wilson, LB, 6-3, 190, Fr., Jacksonville, N.C. (Northside HS)
High School: Versatility enabled noteworthy production and contributions to Northside’s offensive, defensive and special teams units for coach Kendrick Pollock … Efforts were recognized with an invitation to represent North Carolina as a defensive back in the prestigious Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas (all-star contest) … On defense, tallied four interceptions, four forced fumbles and returned two of three fumble recoveries for touchdowns as a team captain … Offensively, specifically at the wide receiver position, led the Monarchs with 40 catches for 649 yards and 11 touchdowns … Performance of significance was a seven-reception, 134-yard outing during a 49-22 triumph over White Oak, which included scoring grabs of 40, 17, 11 and six yards … Also turned in 15 rushing yards on three carries and amassed 254 return yards on punts (196) and kickoffs (58) … Returned one punt back for a touchdown … Helped Northside to a 6-6 overall record, a fourth-place standing in the Coastal 3A Conference and a first-round NCHSAA Playoff appearance in 2017 … Was a first-team all-state, all-area and all-conference pick as a junior after netting 582 yards and seven TDs on 31 receptions … Tallied 35 stops (29 solo), seven interceptions, including one returned for a score, along with four forced fumbles and three recoveries as a junior … Participated in the 2017 Nike Combine and attended ECU camps during the summer … Officially committed to the Pirates on June 19, 2017 … Also offered by Charlotte, Old Dominion and Vanderbilt, while Duke, North Carolina, NC State, Virginia and Wake Forest displayed considerable interest … Earned additional letters on the basketball floor and was part of a NHS state 2A championship team (30-0) … Outstanding student who earned selection to Northside’s Principal List. Personal: Full name is Jireh Nazir Wilson … Born at Beaufort, S.C. … Son of Daina Wilson and Chris McDougal … Lived in Japan during youth where parents, who both serve in the U.S. Marine Corps, were stationed … Lists all sports (in general) as hobbies of choice … First name is pronounced JAI-ruh.
Peyton Winstead, OL, 6-3, 290, Fr., Raleigh, N.C. (Leesville Road HS)
Will officially enroll early at ECU (January, 2018) and is expected to participate with the Pirates in spring drills. High School: An all-conference performer as a junior and senior for coach Chad Smothers at Leesville Road … Graded out as the top blocker for a Pride program which turned in an 8-5 record and third-place finish in the Cap 7 4A Conference (4-2) in 2017 … A preseason all-state selection who helped LRHS advance to the second round of the NCHSAA 4AA playoffs as a senior … In addition to picking up All-Cap 7-4A Conference honors, was an all-state choice as a junior center and guard in 2016 … In all, earned three football varsity letters … Rated among the top 40 centers nationally according to recruiting/scouting services … Officially committed to ECU on February 18, 2017 … Also received offers from Appalachian State and Charlotte, while Duke, NC State and Virginia Tech also showed considerable interest … Prep program also produced Brian Rimpf, who earned numerous All-Conference USA honors as an offensive lineman at ECU before playing with the Baltimore Ravens. Personal: Full name is Peyton Winstead … Born at Raleigh, N.C. … Son of Bob and Amy Winstead …Father (football) and mother (cheerleading) are both ECU alumns who were involved with the Pirates’ athletic programs … Enjoys fishing and playing the guitar.
Michael Witherspoon, DB, 6-1, 195, Jr., Lawrenceville, Ga. (Central Gwinnett HS/Hutchinson CC)
Will officially enroll early at ECU (January, 2018) and is expected to participate with the Pirates in spring drills. Junior College: A two-year starter in the Blue Dragon secondary for coach Rion Rhoades following a redshirt campaign in 2015 … Racked up 42 tackles, 1.0 TFL, 10 pass breakups, one forced fumble and a blocked kick during an impressive sophomore season … Played a key role in Hutch’s 7-5 overall record and fourth-place Jayhawk Conference finish (4-2) … Helped Blue Dragons get off to a 6-1 start, which prompted a Top 10 rank in the national junior college polls … Turned in back-to-back eight-tackle (season-high) performances in contests vs. Garden City CC and Highland CC on Sept. 16 and Sept. 23, respectively … Other outing of note was a five-tackle day vs. Eastern Arizona College in the Salt City Bowl on Dec. 2 … Posted two games with three pass breakups (Iowa Western CC, Garden City CC) … Logged only hit for lost yardage against Highland CC … Tallied 32 stops, 3.0 sacks and eight pass breakups as a freshman in 2016 … Officially committed to the Pirate program on Oct. 16, 2017 … Also considered Boise State and Toledo. High School: Earned roster position as a freshman at Central Gwinnett before finishing prep career as a three-year starter … Selected as county defensive player-of-the-year as a senior … Served as team captain for coach Todd Wofford … Booked 76 tackles, seven pass breakups and three interceptions for the Black Knights in 2015 … During initial full-time campaign as a sophomore, registered 23 tackles, including one for lost yardage. Personal: Full name is Michael Witherspoon … Son of Gretchen Kennedy.
2018 EAST CAROLINA FOOTBALL SIGNEE ROSTER
NAME POS HT WT CL. HOMETOWN (Previous School)
Holton Ahlers* QB 6-3 228 Fr. Greenville, N.C. (D.H. Conley HS)
Khalil Barrett DB 5-11 200 Fr. Havelock, N.C. (Havelock HS)
Myles Berry* DB 6-1 190 Fr. Greensboro, N.C. (Dudley HS)
Johnny Bogle TE 6-2 252 Fr. Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. (Nease HS)
Damel Hickman DB 6-0 166 Fr. Charlotte, N.C. (Butler HS)
Nolan Johnson DB 6-2 190 Fr. High Point, N.C. (Southwest Guilford HS)
Trey Love DL 6-3 246 Fr. Greensboro, N.C. (Southeast Guilford HS)
D’Angelo McKinnie DL 6-4 235 Fr. Kenansville, N.C. (Southwest Onslow HS)
Chandler Medeiros* DL 6-3 252 Fr. Statesville, N.C. (South Iredell HS)
Juwan Moody WR 5-10 165 Fr. Conway, S.C. (Conway HS)
Donovan Noel* OL 6-3 257 Fr. Raleigh, N.C. (Millbrook HS)
Andre Pegues WR 6-3 202 Fr. Raeford, N.C. (Hoke County HS)
Jaren Rainey* DB 6-2 190 Fr. High Point, N.C. (Southwest Guilford HS)
Warren Saba* DB 5-10 170 So. Cleveland, Ohio (Benedictine HS/Garden City CC)
Xavier Smith* LB 6-0 237 Fr. Stafford, Va. (Brooke Point HS)
Gerard Stringer LB 6-2 188 Fr. Suffolk, Va. (Nansemond River HS)
Jireh Wilson LB 6-3 190 Fr. Jacksonville, N.C. (Northside HS)
Peyton Winstead* OL 6-3 290 Fr. Raleigh, N.C. (Leesville Road HS)
Michael Witherspoon* DB 6-1 195 Jr. Lawrenceville, Ga. (Central Gwinnett HS/Hutchinson CC)
*early enrollee (January, 2018)