Saturday’s Purple and Gold game was supposed to be a coming-out party for East Carolina running back Chris Mangus. However, the Virginia Tech transfer was dismissed from the program for violating team rules.
Mangus, who graduated from Broughton High as a three-star running back in 2012, transferred to East Carolina at the start of fall camp last season and generated a buzz on the Pirates’ scout team.
The 6-0, 182-pound junior was an active member of the roster as far as ECU’s second scrimmage of the spring last week when he rushed three times for 14 yards.
On Saturday, Mangus was scheduled to play in front of the public for the first time as a Pirate, but instead found himself without a team.
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Mangus wasn’t the only one removed from the Pirates program. Offensive lineman Will Foxx and linebacker Markel Winters were shown the door for repeated violations of team rules.
“I love Chris. I love everybody. But, violation of team rules,” said East Carolina coach Ruffin McNeill, who would not say when the dismissals became official.
Of the three players, Mangus figured to have the biggest impact on the Pirates this season and was viewed as a talented back with play-making ability.
“By no means was it a, ‘Hey, do this or you’re gone,’” said ECU’s first-year offensive coordinator Dave Nichol. “Ruff is a second-chance guy, but all I can say is that at some point if you’re not going to do what we ask you to do, you’re not going to be here. It’s a shame. I know (Mangus) is not a bad dude at all, but it’s a good example to the rest of the players.”
The Pirates entered the spring practice session looking to find a lead back to replace last year’s top rusher Breon Allen, who exhausted his eligibility. ECU has several candidates for the job, and appears to have a solid and diverse running back corps.
Chris Hairston (528 yards, 6.7 yards per carry), returns for his senior year and is joined by last year’s freshmen standouts Marquez Grayson (289 yards, 6.1 yards per carry) and Anthony Scott (268 yards, 4.9 yards per carry).
Scott led ECU rushers with 55 yards on six carries, while Tennessee transfer Derrell Scott, who will have to sit out this season because of NCAA transfer rules, gained 37 yards on 13 attempts. Grayson tallied 23 yards on five carries, and Hairston rushed for a 3-yard touchdown on his lone attempt.
“Anthony Scott had some good stuff. I think all three of them are going to be good,” Nichol said. “Chris Hairston is finally playing more physical, tougher. Marquez is always falling forward because he’s a big dude. I think it’s going to be a three- or four-headed monster again.”
The Pirates wrapped up spring with without a clear-cut No. 1 back, but Nichol said that is subject to change.
“I’ve challenged them,” Nichol said. “I’ve said, ‘Look, if you want to be the guy then play every play. You have to pass block, you have to catch the ball if you want to play every play. If you get sick of getting taken out then do better.’ That’s what I keep telling them.”
The competition will resume this summer when ECU begins practice for the 2015 season.