HAVELOCK - Khalil Barrett was excited and ready to go play football in college at Coastal Carolina University, a place he verbally committed to months ago.

Then, last weekend, he took a visit to Greenville, and it all changed.

He decided to play for East Carolina, and he fulfilled his decision Wednesday when he signed a national letter of intent with the Pirates.

"I felt a little more comfortable with ECU. Kind of had an instant bond with the coaching staff," Barrett said. "Both schools are good schools and I was comfortable at both, but ECU a little more. My position coach and I really clicked."

Barrett is not defined by one position.

This season, he ran the ball as a running back and caught balls as a wide receiver.

He did that so well that he ammassed more than 1,000 yards both as a rusher and as a receiver.

However, Coastal Carolina wanted to use Barrett on defense and the Pirates have similar plans for him.

"They want me to be what they call the Pirate position, kind of like a safety and cornerback in one," Barrett said. "It's something I used to do, play defense, so it's not completely new to me."

Barrett admitted he will miss having the ball in his hands a lot.

"I'm going to miss it a lot, it's going to suck not getting the ball," he said.

Barrett said his goals are to win, get better and hopefully make it to the NFL one day.

He also acknowledged that former Havelock star Derrell Scott's presence at ECU was a factor.

"I used to look up to him a lot when I was in eighth grade and he was playing in high school here," Barrett said. "Playing with him for a year is going to be great."

The Pirates have had an offer in to Barrett since the spring but Barrett wanted to play the season, take his time and see where things stood then.

"I wasn't ready to commit anywhere when they first offered me, I wanted to see what all offers I was going to get," he said.

Barrett was joined by his mother, Lillian, father, Mike, coaches, friends and teammates at his signing.

Much like teammate Avery Jones, who also signed Wednesday, Barrett is known as a good citizen and student off the field by his coaches and teachers.

"We just always told him to treat others how he'd want to be treated and we're just happy for him and proud of him," Lillian Barrett said of her son.

His father Mike echoed those words.

"Guys used to always joke with me about 'he's going to be a better athlete than you were' about him and he is, he's far surpassed me," Michael Barrett said.

Barrett is one of 19 signees in ECU's class.

Jordan Honeycutt can be reached at 252-635-5670 or at jordan.honeycutt@newbernsj.com