Coach Mike Houston

Head football coach Mike Houston addresses the media during his end of season press conference.

The East Carolina University football team (3-6, 3-5 American Athletic Conference) took some good steps forward this year compared to the previous season as it looks to improve further in the next year, and the first step to improve in college football is to have a strong recruiting class.

Recruiting classes are graded on a scale of 0.0000-1.0000, and ECU’s currently sits at a 0.8352, or an average of three-star recruits. So far, this is an improvement on last year's class which finished with a rating of 0.8239, though there is still time to get more commitments or have players back out.

According to 24/7 Sports, ECU has 13 players who have signed letters of intent, one who is a hard commit and one who has transferred from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. By the end of recruiting season in 2020, ECU had 29 enrollees and seven transfer students, which will be a tough number to match.

ECU currently has three players coming in from Florida, two from Alabama, Ohio and Virginia and one each from Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas. A majority of the current commits are defensive backs, with five of the 15 total players who play in the secondary.

The second largest group is offensive linemen with three, and then special teams which currently has two commits. ECU has signed one linebacker, quarterback, running back and receiver.

Right now, ECU is on pace for a very similar positional breakdown to last year's recruiting class. The main difference is that last year the Pirates brought in nine defensive linemen, which put the defensive back position at the number two spot with seven recruits. The number of receivers, running backs, quarterbacks, lineman and special teams are all on pace to have a very similar number of recruits by the time team recruiting is over on July 24.

The Pirates have made plenty of offers but most of the higher-ranked players they have targeted have chosen other schools to play for. However, the Pirates are still in contention and are even favored for a couple middle-to-higher tier prospects.

Of ECU’s 27 starters on offense, defense and special teams, 24 are expected to return for the 2021-2022 season, according to 24/7 Sports.

Junior wide receiver Blake Proehl and senior kicker Jake Verity have both declared for the NFL draft, and graduate student defensive end Chris Willis is expected to move on. Overall, the Pirates will have to turn to its established and incoming young depth pieces to replace the few holes in its starting lineup.

The Pirates are on pace for another mid-tier recruiting class. In the past few years since head coach Mike Houston came to ECU, the Pirates have had classes ranked No. 89 in the country, No. 79 in the country and No. 74 in the country, according to 24/7 Sports. ECU’s continuation of the trend of slowly climbing the recruiting ranks remains to be seen as there is still plenty of time for new developments in this year's class.

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