PirateIllustrated - ECU Tabs Blake Harrell For Defensive Coordinator Position
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ECU Tabs Blake Harrell For Defensive Coordinator Position

Blake Harrell takes over an East Carolina defense looking to make marked improvement in 2020.
Blake Harrell takes over an East Carolina defense looking to make marked improvement in 2020.

Western Carolina graduate Blake Harrell started out as a student assistant for the Catamounts. He earned his MBA from Lenoir-Rhyne in 2012.

Over the course of time Harrell has gone from Lenoir-Rhyne under current ECU head coach Mike Houston where Harrell helped spearhead a 13-win season that led to a D-II National Championship to The Citadel and eventually last year to Kennesaw State.

In five years with The Citadel, Harrell was part of back to back Southern Conference titles when Houston was there as a head coach. During that time the Bulldogs vaulted to as high as a six seed in the FCS national playoff picture.

Harrell now comes over from Kennesaw State where he was the defensive coordinator for the Owls in an 11-3 season where they were ranked 8th in the country.

Last season he helped lead the team to the third best team in the country in total defense, tenth in scoring defense and 13th in turnovers gained.

Mike Houston knows what Harrell can do and with the recent exit of Bob Trott, it presents a good opportunity for Harrell. ECU ranked 119th in total defense last season.

"Blake's ability to innovate, energize and communicate have few equals in this profession," Houston said. "While our history together offers philosophical familiarities, his relentless work ethic, both on the field and in the development of a strategic recruiting network, makes him a perfect fit at East Carolina. We're excited to welcome Blake and his family to Pirate Nation."

While some of the Pirates’ defensive woes were out of Trott’s control with injuries and ECU’s best tackler declared ineligible before the season began, the time is now for ECU if they are to make the most of the current situation.

Harrell's defensive units have done one thing with consistency - force turnovers. Over the four years before arriving at Kennesaw State, his defensive units forced 83 turnovers including 31 during the 2015 season to rank 3rd in the country. His teams forced at least 17 turnovers in each of the last four seasons at The Citadel, averaging 1.76 turnovers per game.

The next chapter to be written will occur at ECU for Blake Harrell. He comes in very familiar with Mike Houston and now will turn his sights to hiring the next defensive line coach.