East Carolina coach Scottie Montgomery barely had time to put together his staff before it was time to hold onto commitments from recruits and seek out new ones.
Montgomery took over in mid-December after the school fired Ruffin McNeill, giving him only weeks to prepare for Wednesday's national signing day. The result was a 22-player class that included a pair of January enrollees, help on both lines and in the secondary, and a heavy dose of instate talent.
"We know that as you build a program, the foundation, the bedrock of that program is going to lie in the trenches," Montgomery said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. "We were very fortunate to be able to go into North Carolina and find players that were long ... and could cover."
The 37-year-old coach had spent the past three seasons at Duke under David Cutcliffe, spending the past two seasons as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
His first class has 11 players on offense and defense, marked by five offensive linemen and five defensive backs. Eleven signees are from North Carolina.
East Carolina's class was ranked eighth among the American Athletic Conference teams according to Rivals and ninth according to Scout.
"It's been a roller-coaster that's been fast, it's been up, it's been down, it's been all over the country," Montgomery said. "But I can't say enough about our staff. Everyone knows that from a recruiting standpoint, that knew me at Duke and know me at ECU, it's very important to me. And I was a little bit crazy this recruiting season on our staff, and I just appreciate everything they've done."
Other things to know:
Top 25 class: No.
Best in class: Hussein Howe, RB, Jacksonville, Florida.
Best of the rest: Sean Bailey, OL, Cumming, Georgia; Aaron Ramseur, LB, Shelby, North Carolina.
Late addition: In addition to Howe, former North Carolina DB commitment Javontay Smith (Columbus, Georgia) committed to ECU last weekend.
One that got away: OT Tre Johnson (Orlando, Florida) committed to Miami.
How they'll fit in: Smith along with fellow DBs Keyshawn Canady (Wallace, North Carolina) and Emmanuel Jones (Asheboro, North Carolina) are part of the Pirates' bolstered secondary. All three stand at 6 feet. "In the game we're playing now, you've got to have some length at those corner and safety positions that can cover some guys," Montgomery said.