Havelock native Scott ready to contribute

GREENVILLE | Derrell Scott is anxious.

It’s been nearly two years since he put on a game uniform and stormed out of the tunnel to the ovation and raucous in a college stadium.

The wait is over for the Havelock native, who transferred from Tennessee following the 2014 season.

Scott, a 5-foot-11, 207-pound running back, will make his East Carolina debut Saturday evening in the Pirates’ season-opener against Western Carolina at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

“It’s going to be real exciting. Everybody knows about coming out of that purple haze, that’s something really special,” Scott said.

Scott, a redshirt sophomore, is listed on the two-deep depth chart behind junior Anthony Scott and sophomore Devin Anderson.

He said friends and family will be in attendance as he wears his No. 24 jersey for the first time, the same number he wore as he racked up rushing records at Havelock High from 2010-13.

“I’m really excited. It’s been a long time coming and a lot of hard work getting to this point,” Scott said. “We still have some work to do before we get to Saturday, but I’m really excited.

“We are just continuing to work hard and get better.”

Scott signed to play at Tennessee in February of 2014 after a senior year at Havelock in which he rushed for 2,147 yards with 25 touchdowns in helping the Rams win the NCHSAA 3A state championship.

He appeared in two games for the Volunteers as a freshman and sat out last season at East Carolina because of the NCAA transfer rules.

“I’m looking to go out there and do whatever the team needs me to do, whether it’s special teams, offense, if they need me to run the ball five times or 15 times,” Scott said. “Whatever they need me to do, I will be willing to do it.”

The Pirates rushed for 1,600 yards (133.3 per game), but last year’s leading rusher Chris Hairston (754 yards, eight touchdowns) finished his eligibility, making way for Anthony Scott to be the starter.

“I’m expecting myself to have a big year,” said Anthony Scott, who gained 446 rushing yards last season. “I’ve been waiting two years for this, so now I have to step up and put my name out there.”

The Pirates will have new personnel at quarterback and on the sidelines.

Philip Nelson was named the starting signal-caller after Kurt Benkert transferred to Virginia, while Scottie Montgomery was named the new head coach in December after coaching at Duke and with the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers.

“As soon as you get the job, you think about certain aspects and times and that’s one of those monumental times,” Montgomery said. “It’s going to be a really good feeling to lead the team out. It’s going to be a wonderful thing.”

ECU posted a 5-7 record last season and missed out on playing in a bowl game for the first time since 2011. The Pirates follow up Saturday’s opener with a home game versus N.C. State and games at South Carolina and Virginia Tech.

“We always have a chip on our shoulder. No matter what, we are going to have a chip on shoulder,” said ECU senior James Summers. “This one might be a little bigger coming off last year.”

Western Carolina is accustomed to playing big programs. The Catamounts played Tennessee and Texas A&M in 2015 as they posted a 7-4 record.

On Saturday, Western Carolina will play against East Carolina for the first time since 1981. ECU leads the all-time series 17-13.

“Everyone is excited. We have a new coaching staff, a new playbook and everyone is ready to showcase their talent,” Anthony Scott said. “We are ready to get out there and play.”

Western Carolina returns its leading running back in junior Detrez Newsome, who piled up 1,109 yards last season. Newsome was voted as the Southern Conference Preseason Player of the Year.

Wes Holcombe and Tyrie Adams are in line to replace last year’s starting quarterback Troy Mitchell. Steffon Hill is Western Carolina’s leading returning receiver, while Daniel Riddle, Tyson Dickson and Fred Mooring lead the defense.

“They have a good defense. They are physical and they have some players back that are pretty good,” said Derrell Scott. “We are going to have to bring our A-game.”

East Carolina’s offensive attack started with its wide receivers – Zay Jones, Trevon Brown, Jimmy Williams and Quay Johnson. Davon Grayson is out with an injury.

The Pirates’ defense which allowed 26 points and 400 yards per game lost its leaders in the middle of the field in linebackers Zeek Bigger and Montese Overton.

Defensive end Fred Presley (14) and safety Travon Simmons (13) have the most starts on defense.

“We love our defense. The defense is great. They will be ready,” Summers said.

 

Western Carolina at East Carolina

When: Saturday, 6 p.m.

Where: Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium (50,000) Greenville

2015 Records: WCU 7-4, 5-2 So. Con.; ECU 5-7, 3-5 AAC

Coaches: WCU: Mark Speir (17-29, fifth season); ECU: Scottie Montgomery (0-0, first season)

Key players: Western Carolina: RB Detrez Newsome, WR Steffon Hill, QB Wes Holcombe, LB Tyson Dickson, DT Fred Mooring, LB Daniel Riddle

The Blitz: The Pirates are looking to rebound from a 2015 season that ended without a bowl game appearance. They have a new starting quarterback in Philip Nelson and a new head coach in Scottie Montgomery. However, they return senior wide receiver Zay Jones who caught for a team-high 1,099 yards with five touchdowns. Western Carolina is powered by junior running back Detrez Newsome who gained 1,109 rushing yards last season. Daniel Riddle had 129 tackles last season and Tyson Dickson piled up 10.5 tackles for loss. East Carolina last played Western Carolina in 1981 – a 42-6 Pirates’ victory. East Carolina leads the all-time series 17-13 with the Pirates winning the last seven. East Carolina Athletics Director Jeff Compher was athletics director at Western Carolina from 2000-04.

Forecast: ECU 34, Western Carolina 21

Adam Thompson is the sports editor at the Sun Journal. He can be contacted at 252-635-5669. Follow Adam on Twitter @A_ThompsonNBSJ