April 21, 2003
Spring 2003 OverviewThe PooP
First-year coach John Thompson took over a program that was in obvious decline toward the end of Steve Logan's 11-year reign. Beginning in 1999, the Pirates' record steadily went downhill, from 9-3 to 8-4 to 6-6 and finally to 4-8 last fall. By the end, Logan's direct but abrasive style had alienated administrators, fans, recruits and even some of his players. Thompson already has improved the atmosphere in Greenville he seems to enjoy interacting with fans/media, he made signing day a lot of fun, and he opened spring practice but so-so talent and a tough nonconference schedule (WVU, at Miami, at Wake, UNC) make a win-loss reversal a much more difficult task.
Probable 2003 Starters
* returning starter
+ injured/missed spring drills
Coming On Strong
For a team that hopes to throw the ball a lot, ECU sure does have the makings of a nice running attack. With four starters and some decent depth returning on the line, plus plenty of talented tailbacks and fullbacks, the Pirates have a strong foundation. Rock-solid returning starters: RB Art Brown, WR Terrance Copper, DT Damane Duckett, LB Chris Moore, LT Brian Rimpf. Also looking good: DT Dontre' Brown, LB Eric Butler, RB Dominique Hatcher, DE Richard Koonce, FB Vonta Leach, LB Kent Nealy, RB Marvin Townes, LB Christian Wasielewski.
Cause For Concern?
Nobody doubts that Thompson's switch from the 3-4 to the 4-3 will be best for the defense in the long run, but a roster already short on quality beef up front really will be stretched to the limit now. The Pirates simply cannot afford any injuries to key players in the front four, and even if everyone stays healthy the coach's expertise will be severely tested. Also: new staff, new schemes, depth at receiver, linebacker and in the secondary, kicker, punter.
On The Sidelines
The following players missed all or most of spring drills: RB Art Brown (leg), DE Ike Emodi (shoulder), OL Hagen Mason (shoulder), DB Mickey McCoy (back), LB Chris Moore (knee), TE Tutu Moye (leg), DB James Tyson (foot), WR Marcus White (shoulder).
The following scholarship athletes left the program in the past 24 months with eligibility remaining: DB Grover Benton (left team), RB D'Brian Hudgins (transfer/N.C. A&T), DB Kevin Jackson, WR Derrick Leathers, OL Steve Mercier (left team), DT Calvin Phillips, DB Tyrell Powell, TE Dan Sievers, DB Clifford Timpson, WR Delton Woodard (medical), TE Seth Yates.