Blue Bears pick up CBA's Pitt, Johnson
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 9, 2010 1:46 PM
PIKEVILLE -- Since his appointment as Livingstone College football coach nearly two months ago, Elvin James has been busy plucking talented players from rural eastern North Carolina schools.
His latest stop -- Charles B. Aycock.
James signed all-conference performers Tyheim Pitt and Greg Johnson to national letters-of-intent. The duo joins Eastern Wayne senior Azaveous Dickens, who also inked with the Division II Blue Bears.
"A great decision by Tyheim and Greg," said Aycock head coach Randy Pinkowski. "I think he's (James) taking a step in the right direction. Hitting the local schools as hard as he has is going to make some headway for him."
Pitt and Johnson courted Campbell, Elon, N.C. Central, Coastal Carolina and Wingate University. But the chance to help rebuild a program lured the duo to the 1,000-student school located in Salisbury.
Livingstone finished 0-10 last season and has emerged victorious in just three contests overall since 2007. The Blue Bears last won Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association championships in 1996 and 1997 -- the only two titles in program history.
Pitt empathizes with James.
During their first two seasons of varsity play, Pitt and Johnson enjoyed just seven wins and didn't qualify for the postseason. This past fall, Aycock reeled off 10 wins for the first time since 1981 and advanced to the second round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3-A playoffs.
"We know the program hasn't been very successful the past few years and we're going up there hopefully to change things," said Pitt, who plans to pursue a degree in the mathematics field.
"I'd rather go to an 0-10 program and work harder than kids who go to a 10-0 program. Coach James is very inspirational. I know it's going to be a hard-working program.
"We're not going to worry about winning and losing. If we work hard, I know it's going to pay off later."
Johnson and Pitt each see a bit of coach James daily while hanging out with their close friend and teammate, Jarrod.
"I know his son very well and how he works already, so I'm sure he got all his work ethic from his dad and I know his dad is going to work hard, too," said Johnson, who wishes to obtain a degree in the computer science field.
A 5-foot-11, 192-pounder, Pitt averaged a team-best 6.9 tackles at middle linebacker and was named the News-Argus All-Area Defensive Player of the Year. Johnson, who played noseguard and tackle, recorded 50 stops and earned All-Area recognition.
Pinkowski knew Pitt had the tools to play college football and compared him to a sponge ... the ability to absorb not only responsibilities on the field, but teammates' jobs as well. Johnson took a little more coaxing, but once he got into shape and understood the game, he blossomed into a quality recruit.
"Going into a year-round college program is not going to be a difficult task for them," said Pinkowski. "They're both strong. They're both good students and both have that leadership that is so important. I don't think either one could be swayed to do something they don't want to do, which could happen because on the college level is there is so much temptation surrounding you all the time.
"I think both of those kids are focused and they're going to do well."