football Edit

Mike Houston Promises Major Change in ECU Football Program

First year ECU head football coach Mike Houston is putting a complete overhaul on the Pirate football program.
First year ECU head football coach Mike Houston is putting a complete overhaul on the Pirate football program. ( photo)

With spring football practice set to begin Friday morning at Hight Field at the Cliff Moore Practice Complex, new ECU head coach Mike Houston got together with the press to discuss his expectations for the program and to take them on a complete tour of the Ward Building football facility.

A lot of things have already been refurbished while other things are still a work in progress but will soon be completely revamped.

It will be Houston’s first spring in Greenville. He comes in excited and hopeful and he outlined his main challenges as changing the mindset of the team and a lot of that has to do with believing they can win.

That can be broken down into academics, improving their bodies and their overall success on the field. Houston said he wants to establish a better trust collectively, be able to play together and he wants to continue to improve the facilities.

"It's an exciting time. I thought back to December 3, 2018. That is a day that I will remember vividly for the rest of my life and for the program here. I would really call that ground zero. You were a couple of days removed from a very embarassing 58-3 loss to N.C. State in Raleigh," said Mike Houston, "As I stood in this room. The room looked a lot different physically but I will never forget the faces of the young men in our program."

"To be honest they were lost at that point in time. When I walked in this building, I was astonished at the state of the facility," said Houston, "That can be said for several things around our program at that point in time."

"The one thing I will say is since that day, everyone in this building - the first floor where the players operate and it's also the third floor of academic administration. Everyone in this building has been committed every single day to doing everything humanly possible to evaluate, slightly adjust or drastically overhaul everything involved with this football program."

Houston said there will be open competition at literally every position this spring beginning on Friday morning with the first workout at 8 a.m. All players will have to, as he termed it, "earn the jolly roger on their helmets."

The first year ECU coach says he expects an uptempo workout from day one in what he termed as a helmeted, full speed practice.

Expect things to be demanding on the players as they start to find out what kind of football team they have coming into the fall.

Another component is a drill that Houston termed as the inside run that he said will test his team on a daily basis and will be quite demanding.

His goals are to establish a culture and attitude and the way they will operate. Establish a depth chart and get an idea of where the players fit best and then be able to adjust schemes as needed. Houston said he will be looking for constant improvement.

In terms of personnel, the eligibility of senior defensive end Nate Harvey is still up in the air with the NCAA who is expected soon to make a decision. In the meantime, Houston said Harvey will be able to practice with the team this spring as they await what hopefully will be a positive decision.

Houston said quarterback Holton Ahlers should be full go as is also the case for offensive lineman Payton Winstead. Blake Proehl will be at what Houston termed as mostly full go while center John Spellacy is still recovering from multiple concussions and finds his situation health wise still up in the air.

Most everybody else should be ready to go but as is the case every spring and especially when a new coach arrives, Houston said don't be surprised if a player or two is missing from the roster. He did not elaborate beyond that.

But a really big emphasis is being put on freshening up the facilities both in Ward Building where the team will come out of this season on game day instead of Murphy Center. Also new field turf is expected to be installed at Hight Practice Field along with an additional turf field for other sports. was there to bring you Coach Houston’s address to the press in its entirety.