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Suspended players reinstated to Pirates

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East Carolina's head coach Mike Houston walks the sideline during a game at N.C. State on Aug. 31, 2019.

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

East Carolina football reserve defensive players Juan Powell and Delvontae Harris were reinstated to the Pirates and they practiced Tuesday, a little more than six weeks after their Aug. 24 arrests for felony breaking and entering a motor vehicle.

Their charges were dropped last Thursday. First-year Pirate coach Mike Houston made the announcement after Tuesday morning’s practice during a team bye week.

“They are extremely remorseful and are disappointed in the way they represented the program and the university, and they are determined to not let this incident define them,” Houston said. “If I did not feel that way, then both of them would not be with us. But I do feel like they made a mistake and I do believe in second chances, as long as I am convinced that the individual will take advantage of the second chance and has become a better person because of it.”

A Pitt County courthouse clerk’s office representative said Monday that the players complied with community service obligations and also had no prior criminal history in Pitt County. Houston reinforced Tuesday that they were held accountable by local authorities and the university and completed what they were asked to do while they were suspended from all team activities.

They were originally scheduled to appear in court Nov. 6.

Powell was viewed early in the preseason as a potential impact freshman on special teams and at cornerback, where fellow freshman Ja’Quan McMillian has started every game and has been one of the best players on the Pirates’ defense. Senior Colby Gore emerged in September as the other starter at corner.

Powell could play in up to four games this year and still redshirt. Following this bye week, ECU (3-3) has six games remaining in the regular season.

"I have not let them do anything for the past six or seven weeks, so where our team and roster is and where they are are two drastically different levels,” Houston said. “They have to earn their spot, just like anyone else. Both of them will have the opportunity to define their role during the second half of the season.”

Harris is a sophomore linebacker who used his redshirt year in 2017.

The Pirates practiced in the morning Tuesday in misty conditions, as part of fall break and because they spent the afternoon at a “tackling bullying” community relations event with the Boys & Girls Club.

During the first of two bye weeks scheduled, Houston said the practice resembled preseason sessions.

“The weather was good for us because there is a good chance that you’ll play a ball game in that kind of weather at some point this year,” said Houston, whose team will travel to UCF next Saturday night. “It’s interesting to see who thrives in that kind of weather and who kind of disappears. ... We did some things we haven’t done since preseason camp. We did a live inside run drill and some situational and fundamental special teams work today with our coverage units.

“We worked primarily punt and kickoff. We also had a couple things I didn’t like in our field goal protection (last Thursday night in a loss to Temple), so we did some work there at the end of practice against each other.”

ECU also released news Tuesday morning that starting left guard Cortez Herrin received an extra medical hardship year to play next season as a senior. He and former starting running back Darius Pinnix have missed games this year to injury, but Houston hopes to have them return at some point later in the season.

“Cortez is really one of the leaders of our program and I always say that if you’re having a bad day, then go spend five minutes with Cortez Herrin and I promise you that your day is going to brighten,” Houston said. “We do have a tentative timeline for (Herrin and Pinnix this season) and there are a couple of evaluations coming up this week and next week that will give us more of a set date. We do hope to have them both back at some point toward the latter third of the season or so.”

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

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