GREENVILLE, PITT COUNTY -

The following is a news release from East Carolina University:

Replenishing personnel shortages on the offensive line, enhancing depth at the outside receiving position and bolstering athleticism in the linebacking corps and secondary of the Pirates' 3-4 defensive scheme were all addressed when fifth-year East Carolina Head Football Coach Ruffin McNeill and staff announced their 27-member 2014 signing class Wednesday.

A total of 23 student-athletes who officially signed with the Pirate program throughout the day will join four early enrollees on the roster this summer in preparation for ECU's initial season of competition in the American Athletic Conference.

Of East Carolina's entire class, 15 are projected to play on offense while 12 will line up on the defensive side of the ball. Offensively, the Pirates signed seven linemen, seven receivers, a tight end and running back. On defense, six linebackers, four secondary performers and two linemen comprise the list of newcomers.

"I can't wait to get everyone here as a collective group and get back to work," McNeill said. "I feel confident we answered our immediate needs in several areas. Maybe the biggest testament we have that speaks for the progress of our program is the opportunity we now have to develop younger players - in life, in the classroom, with (Strength) Coach Jeff Connors and on the field. You build quality programs with quality individuals, and this group reflects that very clearly."

In an effort to identify immediate help to replace the loss of three offensive linemen off its 2013 unit, ECU tapped the junior college ranks with the signing of juniors Dontae Levingston from Santa Monica (Calif.) College and Quincy McKinney from Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College. Twenty-five of the 27 signees most recently played at the high school level, which ranks as the largest freshman signing class in the McNeill era at East Carolina, which began in 2010.

The Pirates maintained their footprint along the I-95 corridor through the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast region with representation ranging from North Carolina (seven), South Carolina (six), Florida (five), Virginia (four), Georgia (three) and Maryland (one) to cover 26 of the 27 additions.

East Carolina recorded a 10-3 overall mark and stood second in Conference USA's East Division with a 6-2 ledger. The Pirates won six of their last seven contests, including a 37-20 triumph over Ohio in the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl that successfully capped the program's seventh bowl appearance in the last eight years. In all, the 10 victories marked ECU's second single-season double-digit win total in school history and was the highest since 1991 (11-1).

The Pirates open spring drills March 21 and will host North Carolina Central on Aug. 30 to kick off the 2014 season.

2014 EAST CAROLINA FOOTBALL SIGNEE BIOS

Steve Baggett, TE, 6-5, 225, Fr., Beaufort, S.C. (Beaufort)
High School: A three-year letterman for coach Mark Clifford at Beaufort High School in the Low Country of South Carolina (between Savannah (Ga.) and Charleston) … Had 29 receptions for 556 yards and seven touchdowns as a senior captain in 2013 to help lead Eagles to a 9-4 record and playoff appearance  … Led BHS to a first-round win over Blythewood (23-15) before falling 23-10 to North Augusta in the next round to end season … Earned first-team all-area honors from the Island Packet/Beaufort Gazette as both a junior and senior  … Also was a two-time all-region selection and was named to the all-state squad in 2013 …  Selected to compete in the '13 North-South All-Star Game in his home state … Listed among the top 35 recruits in South Carolina in various recruiting publications … Caught 18 passes for 372 yards and four TDs as a junior … Played on both sides of the ball during prep career (defensive end) ... Attendance in ECU summer camps sparked initial interest before giving verbal commitment on June 19 … BHS head coach (Clifford) earned his master's degree from East Carolina … Reportedly clocked at 4.6 in the 40-yard dash … Also is a baseball standout for the Eagles who was an all-state pick after junior season … Had the second-highest RBI total in the state (2013) … In all, earned three letters as a centerfielder and pitcher … A key part of an Eagle squad which captured a regional title and advanced to the '13 Class 4A State Tournament. Personal: Full name is Stephen Louis Baggett … Born Sept. 20, 1995 at Beaufort, S.C. … Son of Steve and Lori Baggett … Earned membership in the National Honor Society for work in the classroom … Cited offensive system and Pirates' family atmosphere as primary reasons for signing with ECU … Hobbies include the beach and piloting WaveRunners.

Des Barmore, OL, 6-6, 284, Fr., Columbus, Ga. (Hardaway)
High School: A two-year First-Team All-Bi-City selection for coach Jeff Battles at Hardaway High School … Also named to the all-region squad as a junior (second team) and senior (first team) … A member of the 2013 Dandy Dozen unit … A three-year letterman who served as a team captain … Credited with 19 pancake blocks and earned final grade of 86 percent during junior campaign in 2012 …  Ranked among the best 150 offensive tackles nationally and among the top 150 overall (all positions) prospects in the state of Georgia .,. Committed to the Pirates on Nov. 16 after seeing East Carolina post a 63-14 victory over UAB … Reportedly timed at 5.55 in the 40-yard dash … Also recorded a power throw of 38.0 and had a SPARQ rating of 69.33 during strength and conditioning testing … The "man among boys" label is frequently visible in many recruiting publications. Personal: Full name is Desmond Barmore … Born March 8, 1996 at Columbus, Ga. … Indicated that ECU's academic program, opportunity to play early and coaching staff were key reasons for signing decision … Lists meeting Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton as one of his interesting "did you know" entries.

Yiannis Bowden, OLB, 6-5, 215, Fr., Kernersville, N.C. (Glenn)
High School: A three-star recruit according to ESPN.com who committed to the Pirate program prior to the start of the 2013 season on Aug. 22 … Ranked as the No. 24 overall prospect in the state of North Carolina with a national grade of 75 (ESPN.com) …A two-year all-conference performer for coach Aldine Payne at Glenn High School … Earned three football letters and served as the Bobcats' team captain as a senior … Split time at both defensive end and outside linebacker in 2013 … Selected as a game MVP after leading GHS to a 42-0 victory over Winston-Salem Parkland in the '13 season opener … Reportedly posted a 40-yard dash time of 4.68 … Also earned additional letters in basketball and track (hurdles). Personal: Full name is Yiannis A.C. Bowden … Born Sept. 26, 1996 at High Point, N.C. … Son of Boysie Bowden … Says recruiting style, membership in the American Athletic Conference, relationship with coaches and facilities were reasons for choosing to sign with the Pirates.

Trevon Brown, OWR, 6-2, 192, Fr., Wilmington, N.C. (New Hanover)
Officially enrolled early at ECU in January of 2014 and will join Pirates for spring drills … Re-signed (grant-in-aid) with head coach Ruffin McNeill's program after initially inking a national letter-of-intent with East Carolina in February, 2013. High School: Finished prep career at New Hanover High School as the program's all-time leading receiver with 2,601 yards ... Played a key role for a Wildcats' squad that rolled to an 11-2 record in 2012 and ventured deep into the playoffs before falling to eventual 4A state champion New Bern in the third round ... Made 64 catches for 1,182 yards and 19 touchdowns as a senior ... Also threw one pass that resulted in a 35-yard score ... Selected as the Wilmington Star News All-Area Offensive Player-of-the-Year and was a Mideastern Conference First-Team selection in '12 ... Named the Star News' Player-of-the-Week on Sept. 13 after scoring six touchdowns on six touches (four receptions, kickoff and punt return) against Purnell Swett ... A NCPreps.com and CarolinaPreps.com 4A All-State Team performer ... Earned all-area honors (Star News) and all-conference honors as a junior after recording 66 catches for 1,035 yards and 11 TDs ... Added 238 rushing yards for coach Kevin Motsinger ... Also lettered as a basketball standout, earning inclusion on the 2012 4A Mideastern Second Team ... Helped Kirk Angel's team as a vital contributor during the Wildcats' run to a state title ... Reportedly clocked at 4.4 in the 40-yard dash.

Curtis Burston, OWR, 6-1, 212, Fr., Apex, N.C. (Middle Creek)
Officially enrolled early at ECU in January of 2014 and will join Pirates for spring drills, thus signed a grant-in-aid with the program instead of a letter-of-intent (per NCAA policy). High School: A three-year letterman for Coach Mike Castellano at Middle Creek High School … Played in a similar offensive scheme and package during prep career that East Carolina currently utilizes … Experienced limited action as a senior because of a lower leg injury, but still made 40 receptions for 759 yards and 13 TDs in just seven games … Selected to play in the prestigious Shrine Bowl and represented North Carolina (vs. South Carolina) … Recorded 45 catches for 850 yards and eight touchdowns as a junior in 2012 to help guide the Mustangs to an 11-2 overall record and a perfect 8-0 Tri-Nine 4-A Conference ledger … A first-team all-conference honoree after junior campaign … Earned scout grade of 73 and was ranked among the top 55 players in the state by ESPN.com  … Reportedly produced a 40 time of 4.5 seconds, benched 275 pounds, squatted 470 pounds and booked a vertical jump of 36" during strength and conditioning testing prior to his senior season … Also recruited by Boston College … "Acceleration ability despite size" was cited in numerous recruiting publications … Officially committed to East Carolina on Aug. 18, 2013 … Picked up additional varsity letters in basketball .

Joe Carter, ILB, 6-2, 220, Fr., Ponte Vedra, Fla. (Ponte Vedra)
High School: Racked up 75 total tackles  (36 solo) during senior season at Ponta Vedra High School … Also credited with one sack, one fumble recovery, two pass breakups and one blocked punt for veteran coach Mike Loyd in 2013 … Netted 56 stops, an interception (vs. Palatka), two sacks and another blocked punt (vs. Orange Park) as a junior to help the Sharks post a 9-2 record and cap a run of back-to-back district titles … Top effort of 2012 was an eight-tackle performance against Orange Park and also produced a pair of seven-stop outings vs. rival Nease and Matanzas … Started six games as a sophomore and totaled 45 tackles, a pick and a punt block … In all, picked up three football letters and was a team captain …  Also recruited by Air Force and Virginia before committing to the Pirates on June 28 … Reported early strength and conditioning testing numbers include a 285-pound bench press, a 245-pound clean lift and a 425-pound squat … Transferred to Ponte Vedra after opening his prep career at Warsaw (Ind.) Community High School. Personal: Full name is Josiah Michael Carter … Born July 4, 1995 at Lewisville, Texas … Son of Michael and Abigail Carter … Was Ponta Vedra High School's representative for the Pursuing Victory with Honor program in St. John's (Fla.) County and maintains a grade point average over 3.0 … Hobbies include music (playing the drums) and hunting.

Kyle Erickson, OL, 6-4, 280, Fr., Fayetteville, N.C. (Jack Britt)
High School: A three-time all-conference and a two-time all-region selection at Jack Britt High School … Also earned all-state honors as a senior team captain for coach Brian Rimpf, who was a three-year All-Conference USA lineman at East Carolina and former NFL (Baltimore Ravens) performer … Helped Buccaneers capture regional (2012) and conference (2013) titles … Was chosen to represent North Carolina in the prestigious Shrine Bowl after his senior campaign … Lettered a total of four seasons as a tackle, experiencing action with the varsity squad as a freshman … Pair of all-region accolades came from the Fayetteville Observer … An integral member of a Britt offensive unit that generated a Cumberland County-best 5,422 yards of total offense … Reportedly timed at 5.55 in the 40-yard dash, produced a power throw of 37.0 and had a SPARQ rating of 67.98 … Picked up additional letters in track and basketball. Personal: Full name is Kyle Morgan Erickson … Born May 26, 1996 at Watertown, N.Y. … Son of Kevin and Brenda Erickson … A member of the Jack Britt High School's A-B Honor Roll as a freshman, sophomore and junior … Chose East Carolina because of the players in the program, the emphasis on academics and the game-day atmosphere of Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium … Older sister Heather <http://www.teamusa.org/Athletes/ER/Heather-Erickson.aspx> is a two-time Paralympic Silver Medalist (sitting volleyball) … Lists hunting and fishing as top hobbies.

Alex Evans, DE, 6-6, 215, Fr., Silver Spring, Md. (Springbrook)
High School: Earned three letters for Coach Adam Barr at Springbrook High School … Posted 70 tackles and recorded a double-digit sack total … Named the Blue Devil-of-the-year as a freshman … Committed to the Pirate program on Aug. 14 … Also picked up a pair of basketball letters. Personal: Full name is Alexander Evans … Born May 19, 1995 at Silver Spring, Md. … Son of Christopher Evans … An honor roll performer in the classroom as a freshman … Lists Shawn Springs (12-year NFL player with various organizations, Springbrook alum) and Vernon Davis (San Francisco 49ers) as mentors … Hobbies include swimming and traveling.

Malik Gray, OWR, 6-1, 194, Fr., Inman, S.C. (Chapman)
High School: Was Chapman High School's top quarterback, but is expected to man an outside receiving position in the East Carolina program … Completed 108 passes for 1,876 yards and 18 touchdowns for coach Mark Hodge as a senior … Also picked up 667 ground yards and scored four times on 158 rushing attempts, while netting 10 receptions for 139 yards and a pair of TDs … Opened varsity career as a pass catcher before move to the signal-caller position … Led Panthers to a 10-4 record in 2013 … Senior campaign highlights include a 60-yard TD run to help CHS past Union and spark a five-game win streak … Key member of a squad that reached the state 3-A playoffs and before exiting with a setback in the semifinal round … Reportedly was clocked at 4.46 in the 40-yard dash … Committed to the Pirates on Jan. 15 prior to his official visit.

Terrell Green, OWR, 6-4, 190, Fr., Charleston, S.C. (Hanahan)
High School: Caught 36 passes for 775 yards during senior season - averaging 21.5 yards per reception … Guided Hanahan High School to an 11-2 overall mark and 5-0 league record in 2013 … On the receiving end of an eventual game-winning 35-yard touchdown pass to help HHS to a 28-21 win against Orangeburg-Wilkinson … Invited to the Low Country North-South All-Star game in Myrtle Beach (December, 2013) … Experienced limited action as a junior after suffering a season-ending elbow injury during a contest against Bishop England … Earned additional varsity letters in basketball during prep career, while also playing at the AAU level with the Low Country Ballers.

Shaun James, DL, 6-4, 235, Fr., Virginia Beach, Va. (Green Run)
High School: A First-Team All-Beach District choice by the Virginian-Pilot in 2013 … Played key role leading Green Run High School to a 10-4 record and third-round Virginia state playoff appearance for coach Jeff McGowan … Rated as the 30th-best prospect in the Commonwealth by 247Sports Composite … Booked 70 tackles, six sacks and three fumble recoveries for a 2-8 Stallion squad as a junior in 2012 …Cited family atmosphere as primary reason for signing with the East Carolina program … Committed to the Pirates on Aug. 13 … Middle school teammate of current ECU defensive lineman Demetri McGill … Also won letters as a basketball standout for the Stallions.

Quay Johnson, IWR, 5-10, 175, Fr., Knightdale, N.C. (Knightdale)
High School: A two-year letterman for coach Robert Senseney at Knightdale High School …Selected as the program's offensive MVP and was an all-conference choice as a junior and senior ... Named to the all-metro squad as a team captain in 2013 … Key member of a Knights team that rolled to a conference title … Ranked among the top 65 prospects in North Carolina (2014 recruiting class) … Versatility enabled valuable contributions from many positions, including running back, receiver, defensive back and as a return specialist … Helped KHS to a 7-4 overall mark and a 5-2 Greater Neuse 4-A Conference record in 2012 … Made commitment to ECU on Sept. 6, a day after the Pirates' "Paint It Black" victory over Florida Atlantic … A highly-regarded track athlete who competes in the 400m, 500m, 4x400m and 4x800m events … Also earned one letter as a point guard on the basketball floor. Personal: Full name is Marquarious Johnson, but prefers to go by Quay … Born Jan. 15, 1995 at Tarboro, N.C. … Son of Wanda Pittman … Success in classroom enabled selection to All-Academic Conference squads in both football and track … Brother Devin Johnson is a track letterman at the collegiate level … Hobbies include traveling.

Erik Lenzen, OL, 6-5, 265, Fr., Fort Lauderdale, Fla., (Cardinal Gibbons)
High School: Earned three letters as a tackle for coach Mike Morrill at Cardinal Gibbons High School … Enjoyed run of successive starts beginning with his junior year … Blocked for a 1,000-yard rusher and 1,000-yard passer during senior campaign as a team co-captain … A second-team all-county selection as a junior in 2012 after serving as a backup during sophomore campaign … Warrior offensive coordinator Matt DuBuc is a former wide receiver at Texas Tech - the same alma mater as current ECU offensive staffers Lincoln Riley, Brandon Jones and Dave Nichol … Played Unlimited Youth Football as a freshman … Also earned three letters in track as a thrower (discuss and shot put) … Ranked among the top 20 prospects in Broward County according to the Sun-Sentinel … Cited atmosphere, facilities, coaching staff and college town environment as reasons for signing with ECU …Made his commitment official on July 1. Personal: Full name is Erik Lenzen … Born Oct. 5, 1995 at Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. … Son of Chris and Priscilla Lenzen … Lists fishing, hunting, boating, surfing and paddle boarding as hobbies of choice.

Dontae Levingston, OL, 6-4, 280, Jr., Harbor City, Calif, (Santa Monica College)
Junior College: A three-star prospect according to ESPN.com …Ranked 21st nationally among all junior college offensive tackles and earned a scout grade of 70 by ESPN.com … Also recruited by Kansas, Kansas State and Texas Tech and reportedly received offers from 11 others FBS programs … A First-Team All-Pacific Conference selection in 2013 while playing for the Corsairs. High School: A three-star prep performer … Listed as the No. 35 offensive guard prospect in 2011 after senior season.

Dre Massey, IWR, 6-0, 175, Fr., Mauldin, S.C. (Mauldin)
High School: Enjoyed a record-setting senior campaign for coach Lee Taylor at Mauldin High School … Racked up over 4,800 yards of total offense and scored 62 touchdowns in 2013 … Completed 206-of-324 passes for 2,793 yards and 28 TDs (with only five interceptions), while picking up an additional 2,043 yards and 34 scores on 245 rushes as a senior … Earned Max Preps All-America designation and was the MVP of the South Carolina North-South All-Star Game after running for 72 yards and a TD (10-yarder), while also passing for 78 yards and a score (74-yarder) in his team's 38-21 victory … Established a new record with 567yards of offense and11 TDs during an 83-70 win over Boiling Springs on Nov. 8 in the Mavericks' regular season finale … Completed 19-of-21 passing attempts for 213 yards and four touchdowns, while rushing for 354 yards and seven TDs on 29 carries … Played on both sides of the ball (quarterback and cornerback) to help lead MHS to a 7-5 record and a Big 16 playoff berth in 2013 … Named WSPA-TV's Star-of-the-Year … Also experienced significant action as a receiver during his prep career …Amassed over 3,500 yards as a quarterback and punt returner during junior season … Reportedly runs a 4.34 in the 40-yard dash … Committed to the Pirates on Jan. 20.