With National Signing Day well in the rear view mirror and an opening on the roster due to the dismissal of offensive lineman Darius Anderson, the East Carolina Pirates added a late signee in interior lineman Branden Pena.
Many teams are set on signing day with the group of players on their roster, but the talented Pena was just too good of a player to turn down. The 6-3, 290 pound guard had offers from Georgia State, Louisiana, Northern Colorado, Robert Morris, and Southeastern Louisiana back on signing day. Despite the five offers, Pena did not sign with anyone.
After realizing that he did not sign with anyone on NSD, the ECU coaching staff went hard after the Hartnell College lineman. In the middle of March, the East Carolina coaching staff officially offered Pena a scholarship. On March 27, Pena officially visited the Pirates to find out if he would be a fit with the program.
Four days later, Pena officially signed a letter of intent with the program, making him the sixth offensive lineman prospect of the 2016 to sign with ECU.
Hartnell College offensive lineman Branden Pena is headed to East Carolina on a football scholarship pic.twitter.com/D47JNsCWgx— John Devine (@JohnJDevine) April 1, 2016
Cortez Herrin is currently enrolled with the program, while Jarred Dorton, D'Ante Smith, Sean Bailey, and Jack Doyle will all officially enroll later. Dorton and Pena are both JUCO transfers, with the rest of the signees coming from the high school ranks.
Pena is expected to enroll in the summer as well, bringing the total number of offensive linemen on the East Carolina roster to 18. He is expected to be in contention for playing time at one of the two guard positions once he makes it to campus.
East Carolina is looking to replace multiple starters on the offensive line, but have stalwarts J.T. Boyd, Christian Matau, and Brandon Smith returning for the 2016 season. Pena is expected to give some much needed depth to the offensive trenches once he is officially enrolled with the program.
Rice (LT), McGhin (LG), Matau (C), Boyd (RG) and Smith (RT) have been taking a majority of the reps with the starting offense during the early portion of spring practice.
East Carolina Offensive Linemen: Senior: J.T. Boyd, Bladen Gatling. Junior: Christian Matau, Brandon Smith, Justin Sandifer, Branden Pena, Jarred Dorton. Sophomore: Garrett McGhin, Erik Lenzen, Des Barmore, Kyle Erickson, Messiah Rice. Redshirt Freshman: Dalton Montgomery, Jared Huneycutt. Freshman: Cortez Herrin, D'Ante Smith, Sean Bailey, Jack Doyle.