GREENVILLE, N.C. — Fifth-year East Carolina Head Football Coach Mike Houston officially opened the 2023 campaign Wednesday morning after leading the Pirates through their first official workout of the season on Hight Field inside the Cliff Moore Practice Complex.
Following a 6:15 a.m. wake-up call, breakfast, treatments, positional meetings and a 10-minute walk-through, Houston and his staff conducted a fundamentals-oriented 110-minute practice in shorts and helmets with temperatures in the lower 80’s. ECU follows Wednesday’s workout with daily sessions through Saturday before its first scheduled off day of camp Sunday.
“It was a good first day,” Houston said. “We couldn’t have asked for any better weather. I told some of the new guys that this is mid-October weather going on today and certainly not typical Eastern North Carolina beginning of preseason camp weather, so they got lucky with that. It was an exciting day. Every year is a new year, and every team is a new team and that certainly applies to this group. We had some guys that we hope were going to look a certain way, guys that have been here and hoping they would step up and we saw some guys do that today. Some of the new guys have to learn how we practice and how we work, but that’s okay and what you expect.
“We had a lot of enthusiasm. With the new rule they (NCAA) passed last week, we had more guys out there today than we have ever had before with 120 as opposed to the typical 110. Some of the guys will get their first reps tomorrow and some freshmen were figuring out how we were functioning today. But overall, a very positive first day. We are in helmets, and we all know it’s not really real, but a good day and now we will look at the film and get ready for tomorrow.”
The Pirates return 10 of 22 positional starters (four offense, six defense) and four on special teams while welcoming back 36 lettermen from last year’s squad (13 offense, 18 defense, five specialists). A year ago, the Pirates turned in an 8-5 overall record, a 4-4 mark in The American and won four of their last six games for a share of sixth place in the conference. ECU then defeated Coastal Carolina 53-29 in the TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl for its first bowl victory since 2013.
East Carolina is scheduled to progress to shells (shoulder pads) for the first time Friday before a full gear workout Tuesday per NCAA rules. ECU will close camp on Saturday, Aug. 19 with its second scrimmage before returning to a customary in-season late afternoon schedule in preparation for its opener at Michigan on Saturday, Sept. 2.
Fans can follow the Pirates throughout camp on their social media channels (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter).