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East Carolina's McNeill hopes balanced 17-player class helps Pirates overcome departures

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East Carolina coach Ruffin McNeill is still relying on the same steady-build approach to recruiting at his alma mater.

The Pirates unveiled a 17-player class on national signing day Wednesday. The balanced class, far fewer than the 27-player haul from a year earlier, included five January enrollees and brought in three players each along the offensive line, in the secondary, at linebacker and at receiver.

That group comes in during a time of change for the Pirates, who lost offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley to Oklahoma as well as the program's all-time passing leader in Shane Carden as well as receiver Justin Hardy — a former walk-on who set the career catches record for bowl subdivision history.

McNeill promoted outside receivers coach Dave Nichol to offensive coordinator. And he said the Pirates would stay with the formula — starting with that pass-heavy spread offense — that has carried them to 18 wins the past two seasons in Greenville, North Carolina.

"The (offensive) package, it stays here," he said. "What everybody has seen for five years, they'll see again."

McNeill said the Pirates wanted to bring in some cornerbacks with size and length to face passing attacks, while he added three junior college players to provide some immediate onfield help.

The class includes receiver James Summers, a former instate quarterback from Greensboro who originally committed to North Carolina State and then flipped to North Carolina before ending up at junior college.

It also includes Tennessee transfer Derrell Scott, an instate running back from Havelock with three years of eligibility left. He'll sit out the 2015 season.

"In today's world, a lot of people define your class by stars, their ranks," McNeill said. "And that's hard to do in this business. ... I tell you, I would say define a class at the end."


EAST CAROLINA

Top 25 class: No.

Best in class: Nhyre Quinerly, a January enrollee ranked by Scout as the No. 3 defensive back from the state of Virginia.

Best of the rest: WR Deondre Farrier from Orlando, Florida.

Late addition: None.

One that got away: Junior college CB Treston Decoud chose Oregon State over ECU and others.


Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap

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