- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 5, 2014

East Carolina coach Ruffin McNeill focused on bolstering the Pirates’ depth as the program heads into the American Athletic Conference.

The Pirates unveiled a 27-player recruiting class on Wednesday’s national Signing Day, with four of those players already enrolled for the spring semester.

Rivals.com ranked the class tied for 76th nationally and Scout.com ranked it at No. 107. McNeill said the focus was continuing the slow-build plan that has allowed the Pirates to focus on developing young players once they arrive on campus.

After a 10-win season in its final run through Conference USA, the Pirates added two junior college offensive linemen to provide immediate help and five incoming freshmen for depth.

McNeill says the program “found young kids that we know can come in and develop.”

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EAST CAROLINA

National rankings: Rivals T-76; Scout 107.

Best in class: Quincy McKinney looked headed to Louisville. Instead, East Carolina signed one of the nation’s top 10 junior college offensive line prospects out of Hutchinson Community College in Kansas.

Best of the rest: ECU signed three three-star prospects according to Rivals: McKinney, instate receiver Yiannis Bowden from Kernersville, and junior college offensive lineman Dontae Levingston. The Pirates also added Scout three-star prospect Cody Purdie, a safety out of New Bern.

Late addition: McKinney’s switch from Louisville to East Carolina was one of the final additions to the Pirates’ recruiting class.

One that got away: East Carolina had a commitment from instate quarterback Shawn Stankavage, but Stankavage passed on the chance to sign on to lead the Pirates’ no-huddle attack and headed to Vanderbilt.

NOTES: The 25 freshmen were the most of McNeill’s five signing day classes. The Pirates had signed 12 junior college players in 2011 and 2012, but that number has dropped to two in each of the past two seasons. … East Carolina signed 15 on offense and 12 on defense. … ECU signed seven offensive linemen and brought in a combined 13 players from the Carolinas. … The Pirates also focused on receivers, bringing in six…. Among McNeill’s focuses: “With the game being from sideline to sideline, not hash to hash like the old days, I always think you need length offensively and defensively,” he said. “We have both.”

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