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Young receivers in important roles

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East Carolina's Mydreon Vines during practice on August 7, 2018. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Saturday, August 11, 2018

There is no question that Trevon Brown is East Carolina’s best receiver, and big production will be needed out of him again for the Pirates to reach their goal of making a bowl game, but opportunity also remains behind Brown.

Brown is a senior and bound to see double-teams and plenty of attention from opposing defenses, which immediately puts receivers Deondre Farrier and Tahj Deans in important roles for the ECU offense.

Behind them, there is a promising duo on the rise in redshirt freshmen Blake Proehl and Leroy Henley — they both sat out last year with injuries — and sophomore and J.H. Rose High School product Mydreon Vines is looking for more catches on the outside. The 6-foot-1, 183-pound Vines did play sparingly as a rookie, partly because of the long-term injuries to Proehl and Henley, and he has been working with the second-team offense during the preseason while getting some looks with the top unit.

“We’ve figured a good rotation for each other and we’ll be able to rotate in games,” Vines said. “We’re really out there pushing guys and all coming out to work on our craft and coming together as a brotherhood.”

The Pirates are high on Proehl, who is looking to settle in quickly as a reliable slot receiver like his dad, Ricky Proehl, was in the NFL and his brother, Austin, for the North Carolina Tar Heels.

ECU receivers coach Keith Gaither said Deans has All-American Athletic Conference talent and that Farrier was a breakout player during spring drills.

Even true freshman Juwan Moody has showed off his speed as a potential impact player.

As Vines referenced, the receivers will likely be in heavy rotation today when East Carolina holds its first of two preseason scrimmages at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

“We have to push them and put them in situations where they have to strain and be in hard situations,” Gaither said. “It’s going to be hard for them and especially some of those guys who haven’t played a lot of football. That’s my job as the position coach is to push those third and fourth and fifth guys to see what they can do in certain situations, because on Saturdays it is going to be hard.”

The need for secondary production is highlighted by the Pirates not having their second-, third- and fourth-leading receivers from 2017. They were all seniors in Davon Grayson, Quay Johnson and Jimmy Williams.

Big-play potential undoubtedly begins with Brown, a 6-foot-2 outside receiver who was the top pass-catcher a year ago with 60 grabs for 1,069 yards and seven touchdowns. Farrier, who mainly plays in the slot, made 24 receptions for 211 yards and three touchdowns as a sophomore in 2017.

Brown has been one of the more vocal players during practices, especially during scrimmage-style situations or team drills when the offense might miss on an opportunity against ECU’s defense.

“He plays a big part in us learning how to play the receiver position, because once we make a mistake he will come back in and teach us how to run that route or how to stem them or certain stuff like that,” said Vines, who had two receptions as a freshman, of Brown.

Contact Ronnie Woodward at rwoodward@reflector.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.

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