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August 27, 2012

Rio Named QB Starter

GREENVILLE, N.C. - East Carolina opens the season on Saturday at noon in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. ECU head coach Ruffin McNeill addressed the press on Monday to discuss this week's opponent and the depth chart.

The quarterback situation was finally cleared up on Monday,
at least for this week, when junior signal caller Rio Johnson was named the starter for the season opener against quarterback Jamal Jackson and the nation's 6th ranked team in the FCS ranks, Appalachian State.

Between the team, Johnson and Shane Carden, the ECU quarterbacks all took nearly 600 snaps a week during fall camp along with the others "just a percentage behind" in snaps according to the third year ECU head coach who said Rio did a good job in making routine plays coming into the season. Johnson finally won the job in his management of leadership of the team "in the last practice or two. Shane is a starter in my mind too and I feel good playing any of those guys."

The Pirates endured three lightning delays on Sunday before getting the practice completed.

McNeill talked about some of his biggest concerns with the Mountaineers.

"Appalachian State has a lot of guys who can run and stretch the field vertically. Defensively they have linebackers and defensive backs who can play."

Guys like Tacoi Sumler a transfer from Oregon could be a factor. McNeill likes playing 12 noon games. He talked about what was the deciding factor on who was played in the various positions on the depth chart as the season begins.

"The guys who can maintain focus, a strong work ethic and mentality" are the guys who find themselves in the two-deep depth chart coming into the season according to McNeill who says he "likes the mentality" of this group of Pirates.

"We've tried to provide competition at all positions," McNeill said.

Michael Dobson has won the job at running back for game one and will be backed up by Reggie Bullock and Vintavious Cooper. But there are others who could factor in like Zico Pasut, Torrence Hunt and Hunter Furr in what McNeill termed as "a running back by committee" lineup.

Reece Wiggins and Derrick Harris along with Justin Hardy and Andrew Bodenheimer are the listed starters at receiver. Junior college transfer and former Arkansas receiver Lance Ray is not far behind. He has looked stellar in practice after finally being cleared to play late in the fall camp.

And big 6-8 Justin Jones promisses to play a key role as well as a pair of freshmen, Jabril Solomon and Cedric Thompson who have looked sharp all throughout fall camp. This could be one of the deeper lineups at the receiver position for the Pirates in recent years.

Danny Webster, who was in an auto accident over the weekend was working on a sore knee most of camp in practice and according to McNeill, would have been in the depth chart otherwise.

"Danny is not at 100% yet, he has a sore knee and you can see in practice that he's wearing a big brace on his knee. They asked me for a two-deep but if you want a three deep, I'll give you one."

Defensively, McNeill says the strength of the defense is up front where Michael Brooks returns at nose guard as the listed starter after sitting out portions of camp with a concussion. Lee Pegues and Matt Milner will open at defensive ends in Brian Mitchell's 3-4 setup.

Jacobi Jenkins and junior college transfer Adonis Armstrong will start at the cornerback positions. Maurice Falls and Derrell Johnson are the outside linebackers while junior Kyle Tudor and sophomore standout Jeremy Grove are the inside linebackers. Grove led the team in tackles last season with 122 including 3.5 tackles for a loss in 2011. Damon Magazu will start at free safety while Lamar Ivey or junior college transder Chip Thompson will man the strong safety position.

Greenville product Warren Harvey has won the job as the placekicker and Trent Tignor will handle the punting duties for the Pirates. Justin Hardy will return punts and look to see Derrick Harris, Lance Ray and UNC transfer Hunter Furr returning kickoffs for the Pirates.

McNeill said that Harvey "doesn't over analyze the job" and wants to handle placekicking duties and kickoffs as well. He said that Harvey "showed confidence, strength, consistency throughout the summer and fall camp and always had a bag of balls during the summer out there practicing."

Saturday is expected to be a hot midday game and the team already started the hydration process last Saturday. "A lot of it is up to them," said McNeill when asked if conditioning over the summer and fall will help this team avoid cramps on Saturday.

East Carolina Depth Chart


15 Reese Wiggins 5-11 186 Jr-1L
83 Jabril Solomon 6-2 182 Fr-HS

17 Derrick Harris 5-7 175 Sr-1L
81 Cedric Thompson 5-9 185 FR-RS

57 Adhem Elsawi 6-5 312 Jr-1L
69 Isaac Harris 6-7 288 Fr-RS

78 Jordan Davis 6-3 301 Jr-2L
73 Drew Gentry 6-6 314 So-1L

74 Taylor Hudson 6-5 291 So-1L
50 C.J. Struyk 6-2 280 Fr-RS
71 Josh Clark 6-4 300 Sr-2L

70 Will Simmons 6-5 341 Jr-2L
73 Drew Gentry 6-6 314 So-1L

55 Robert Jones OR 6-3 309 Sr-2L
67 Grant Harner 6-6 304 Jr-2L

7 Rio Johnson 6-2 203 Jr-1L
5 Shane Carden 6-2 218 So-SQ
9 Brad Wornick 6-2 196 Sr-1L

35 Michael Dobson 6-0 186 Jr-2L
28 Reggie Bullock 5-9 171 Sr-1L
21 Vintavious Cooper 5-9 189 Jr-TR

2 Justin Hardy 6-0 185 So-1L
84 Justin Jones 6-8 258 Jr-2L

19 Andrew Bodenheimer 6-3 203 Sr-3L
3 Lance Ray 6-2 210 Jr-TR


No. Player Ht. Wt. Cl-Exp.
58 Lee Pegues OR 6-2 287 Jr-2L
93 Chrishon Rose 6-4 298 So-1L
94 Johnathon White 6-4 285 Fr-RS

92 Michael Brooks 6-3 276 Sr-3L
66 Terrell Stanley 6-2 252 Fr-RS

98 Matt Milner 6-4 260 Jr-2L
5 Justin Dixon 6-1 262 Jr-2L
9 John Lattimore 6-4 266 Jr-SQ

56 Derrell Johnson 6-2 261 Jr-2L
6 Chris Baker 6-3 251 Sr-1L
45 Jake Geary 6-3 238 So-1L

20 Kyle Tudor OR 6-3 232 Jr-2L
52 Daniel Drake 6-0 232 Sr-2L
24 Brandon Williams 6-1 234 So-1L

53 Jeremy Grove 6-1 230 So-1L
49 Ty Holmes 6-1 232 Jr-2L
44 Zeke Bigger 6-2 216 Fr-RS

48 Maurice Falls 6-2 239 So-1L
51 Montese Overton OR 6-3 214 Fr-RS
38 Gabriel Woullard 6-3 211 Jr-TR

3 Adonis Armstrong 5-10 181 Jr-TR
13 Kristopher Sykes 5-10 178 Sr-1L

7 Lamar Ivey OR 6-1 192 So-1L
1 Chip Thompson 6-0 210 Jr-TR

11 Damon Magazu 5-11 203 Jr-2L
32 Justin Venable OR 6-1 197 Sr-3L
23 Desi Brown 6-2 209 So-1L

8 Jacobi Jenkins 6-0 192 Sr-3L
10 Rocco Scarfone OR 5-11 176 Fr-RS
37 Joshua Hawkins 5-10 179 Fr-RS


20 Warren Harvey 5-11 200 So-SQ
30 Connor Torruella 5-10 162 Fr-HS

38 Trent Tignor 6-5 208 Jr-2L
19 Andrew Bodenheimer 6-3 203 Sr-3L

38 Trent Tignor 6-5 208 Jr-2L
40 Brendan Rowland 6-2 158 Jr-TR
51 Phil McNaughton 6-1 266 Sr-SQ

60 Charlie Coggins 6-3 198 So-SQ
50 C.J. Struyk 6-2 280 Fr-RS

2 Justin Hardy 6-0 185 So-1L
17 Derrick Harris 5-7 175 Sr-1L

17 Derrick Harris OR 5-7 175 Sr-1L
3 Lance Ray OR 6-2 210 Jr-TR
40 Hunter Furr OR 6-0 227 Jr-TR
21 Vintavious Cooper 5-9 189 Jr-TR

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