While we wait for definitive action from conferences and leagues around the country regarding the 2020 college football season, as things stand right now, East Carolina University football is 33 days away from kicking off against Marshall in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

There are currently four games scheduled for Aug. 29, the 2020 season’s Week 0, while three contests have been canceled as various conferences eliminate non-conference games for the upcoming campaign.

Nevertheless what the schedule looks like, ECU’s football is set to look drastically different on the defensive side of the football, while the offense returns plenty of firepower from last year.

About this time or earlier every year for the last quarter century, college football guru Phil Steele has been publishing is annual College Football Preview magazine with comprehensive breakdowns and analysis of every Division I team. With those breakdowns, Steele speaks to as many head coaches as possible to get a feel for each program’s roster situation and provides his readers with a preseason two-deep depth chart of their favorite team.

Below is ECU’s preseason two-deep, according to Steele:

Quarterback

  • Holton Ahlers (Jr.) – 3,387 passing yards in 2019
    • Mason Garcia (Fr.) – will likely redshirt in 2020

Running Back

  • Chase Hayden (Jr. – Tr.) – transfer from Arkansas; on the field for 77 snaps last season
    • Darius Pinnix Jr. (Jr.) – missed portion of 2019 with injury; 289 net rushing yards and four touchdowns last season

Wide Receiver

  • Tyler Snead (So.) – led team in receptions with 66 and receiving touchdowns with five
    • Jsi Hatfield (So.) – caught 16 balls for 260 yards

Wide Receiver

  • Blake Proehl (Jr.) – tied for second on team with 54 receptions; racked up 670 yards and four touchdowns
    • Andre Pegues (So.) – appeared in 10 games last season

Wide Receiver

  • C.J. Johnson (So.) – tied for second on team in receptions with 54; led team in receiving yards with 908
    • Audie Omotosho (Jr.) – caught five passes for 114 yards and a touchdown in 2019

Tight End

  • Zech Byrd (Jr.) – hauled in 11 catches for 130 yards and three scores
    • Ryan Jones (Jr. – Tr.) – graduate transfer from Oklahoma; converting from inside linebacker to tight end this season

Center

  • Fernando Frye (Gr.) – started eight games in 2019 (seven @ LG, one @ RG); played in all 12
    • Peyton Winstead (So.) – redshirted last year; has experience at center

Right Guard

  • Sean Bailey (Sr.) – made eight starts at right guard in 2019
    • Nishad Strother (RFr.) – appeared in two games last year

Left Guard

  • Avery Jones (So. – Tr.) – transfer from UNC; appeared in one game last season
    • Trent Holler (RFr.) – played in two games in 2019

Right Tackle

  • Noah Henderson (So.) – started four games at right tackle in 2019
    • Justin Chase (Gr. – Tr.) – transfer from NC State; played in two games last year

Left Tackle

  • D’Ante Smith (Sr.) – started all 12 games at left tackle in each of the last two seasons for the Pirates
    • Bailey Malovic (Jr.) – limited to four games in 2019 due to injury

Defensive End

  • Henry Garrison (Jr. – Tr.) – JUCO transfer from Nassau Community College; 14 tackles in six games last year
    • Chris Willis (Gr. – Tr.) – transfer from Appalachian State; missed 2019 season with injury

Defensive Tackle

  • Immanuel Hickman (RFr.) – appeared in two games last season; recorded one tackle
    • Keziah Everett (RFr.) – redshirted last year

Defensive Tackle

  • Hozey Haji-Badri (Sr.) – 11 total tackles in 10 games in 2019 including 0.5 TFL
    • D’Angelo McKinnie (So.) – redshirted in 2019 after appearing in four games

Defensive End

  • Traveon Freshwater (RFr.) – redshirted in 2019
    • Damir Faison (So.) – appeared in five games last year

Linebacker

  • Aaron Ramseur (Sr.) – 32 total tackles in eight games including 5.5 TFL
    • Bruce Bivens (Sr.) – 5th on team with 61 total tackles; notched one sack

Linebacker

  • Xavier Smith (Jr.) – led team with 81 total tackles in 2019; 2.5 TFL
    • Delvontae Harris (Jr.) – 13 total tackles in three games played; two TFL, 0.5 sacks

Linebacker

  • Jireh Wilson (So.) – 28 total tackles in 12 games; one TFL
    • Warren Saba (Sr.) – 17 total tackles in 11 games; one TFL, one blocked kick

Cornerback

  • Ja’Quan McMillian (So.) – three INT’s, nine pass break-ups and 12 passes defensed as true freshman in 2019
    • Nasir Clerk (Fr.) – incoming freshman from Irvington High School in New Jersey

Cornerback

  • Nigel Knott (Gr. – Tr.) – graduate transfer from Alabama; missed last season with injury
    • Malik Flemming (So.) – five total tackles in 12 games

Strong Safety

  • Davondre Robinson (Sr.) – second on team with 71 total tackles; two TFL, three INT’s, one fumble recovery
    • Juan Powell (RFr.) – 18 total tackles in four games

Free Safety

  • Shawn Dourseau (So. – Tr.) – transfer from Riverside Community College; 42 tackles last year
    • Robert Kennedy (Jr. – Tr.) – transfer from Lackawanna College; 34 tackles in 2019

Kicker

  • Jake Verity (Sr.) – 24-for-29 on field goal attempts in 2019; long of 51 yards

Punter

  • Luke Larsen (Fr.) – from Australia
    • Jonn Young (Sr.) – averaged 40.6 yards per punt in 2019; long of 62 yards

On the defensive side of the football, the Pirates are extremely inexperienced. According to Steele’s experience metrics, ECU is returning just 58.8% of its tackles from 2019, ranking them 83rd in the nation in that category.

Offensively ECU will get back 90.9% of its yardage from last season, putting them inside in the top-ten nationally in that respect and second in the American Athletic Conference. Up front, the Pirates will see 60 starts return among their offensive line, putting them toward the middle of the pack in the FBS.

Overall, the Pirates rank 50th out of 130 FBS programs in Steele’s experience chart with a score of 64.8 on a scale of 0-100, with 100 being the most experienced team possible.

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