East Carolina's top quarterback recruit Kingsley Ifedi of Charlotte Vance High, shown at the game against SMU in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in Greenville on Nov. 12, is expected to enroll at ECU for the spring semester.
Stephen Igoe | Special to the Times
By Stephen Igoe
Special to the Times
Hoping to reverse its fortunes on the field following a 3-9 season, East Carolina has made it a mission to recruit prospects from winning high school programs for its 2017 recruiting class.
The Pirates hit a home run in two of their most important prospects: quarterback commits Kingsley Ifedi and Mic Roof.
Committed to East Carolina since May, both Ifedi and Roof have stayed true to their pledges while leading their high school teams to great success in the process.
Ifedi, the highest-rated Pirate commit according to 247Sports, has led Vance High School in Charlotte to the state semifinals with a monster season. The 6-foot-3 dual-threat quarterback, who chose ECU over Pittsburgh, helped the Cougars top Matthews Butler 50-49 in dramatic fashion in overtime last Friday with a touchdown and game-winning two-point conversion.
Vance plays Page in Greensboro this Friday with a trip to the 4-AA state championship on the line.
Roof, meanwhile, has led Buford High School in Georgia to the state championship where it will face Rome in the Georgia Dome this Saturday for the 5-A title. Roof, the son of former Duke head coach Ted Roof, comes from a powerhouse program in Buford which has made the state championship every season since 2008.
Three-star receiver commit Jayden Borders is also playing in the North Carolina 2-A semifinals this weekend for Shelby against Monroe.
Borders and Ifedi are set to join the program as early enrollees in January, while Roof will enroll next summer after signing in February.
Ifedi, who stands at 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, has the resume and physical prowess to come in and potentially compete for immediate playing time along with returning signal-callers Gardner Minshew and Reid Herring, who was a highly-regarded prospect from the 2016 class who redshirted this past season.
Head coach Scottie Montgomery and offensive coordinator Tony Petersen have each indicated to Ifedi that he should come in ready to compete as soon as he steps foot on campus.
“ECU needs some help and myself and the rest of this class are going to help with that,” Ifedi said. “Some of the games showed me I should expect to come in and play early. Coach Mo and Coach Petersen made it clear to me I need to come in ready to go, and ready to play. I’m looking forward to it.”
After the conclusion of its season, East Carolina decided to re-evaluate its 2017 class and make some changes.
The Pirates, after being burnt by academic casualties and other dismissals from previous recruiting cycles, decided to cut ties with any commits about whom there were character concerns or were borderline academically.
The once 21-man recruiting class now sits at 16 after the Pirates recently dropped East Carteret receiver Da’Shaun Johnson, Dudley cornerback Myles White and junior college defensive back Kalen McCain.
East Carolina also suffered de-commitments from running back Jerry Howard, who flipped to Georgia Tech, and offensive lineman Connor Mills, who accepted a spot at Princeton instead of signing with ECU.
The Pirates also dropped top junior college outside linebacker commit Marques Ford last week after a sexual assault lawsuit arose involving the Jones County (Mississippi) Junior College prospect.
ECU still plans to sign a full class of 25.
The Pirates will welcome an influx of talent once January rolls around, with as many as five high school prospects and three more junior college commits set to enroll for the spring semester.
Ifedi and Borders will be joined by fellow in-state commits in defensive end Taijh Alston (Union Pines), offensive lineman Matt Morgan (Corinth Holders) and outside linebacker Ben Norris (Myers Park).
From the junior college level, East Carolina will be joined by tight end Eric Weber (Southwest Mississippi Community College), cornerback Marcus Holton (Georgia Military College) and inside linebacker Cannon Gibbs (Jones County Junior College).
With the Feb. 1 signing day approaching and as many as nine spots to fill, the Pirates have their sights set on some top targets.
ECU welcomed official visitors in three-star wide receiver Leroy Henley and junior college offensive lineman Dqmarcus Shaw over the weekend. Both players are early enrollees who have the Pirates among their final suitors.
Henley is deciding between ECU, Kentucky and Utah, while Shaw is down to Arkansas State, ECU, Southern Miss and South Florida.
The Pirates will try to fill their running back void when they welcome Peach State product Trace Christian this weekend. The three-star running back from Lake Brantley High School is also considering Indiana, South Florida and Rutgers.
Fresno State linebacker commit Bruce Bivens, one of the Pirates’ top defensive players on their board, will also officially visit this weekend.
East Carolina is still hopeful for commitments from talented junior college defensive line prospects Lee Autry (Itawamba C.C.) and Brandon Henderson (Georgia Military College) going forward. Both prospects visited in November.
Stephen Igoe is the publisher of the East Carolina 247Sports website Hoist The Colours. Check out more of his work at eastcarolina.247sports.com.