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Grayson signs with ECU

Lexington football player Marquez Grayson dons an East Carolina University hat Thursday after it was announced that he will accept a scholarship offer to play football for the Pirates. (Photo by Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch)

For the better part of a year Marquez Grayson was asked repeatedly where he was going to play college football, and the star running back would say he didn’t know while giving a sheepish smile.

The Lexington senior finally made it official Thursday afternoon when he donned an East Carolina ball cap during a signing ceremony before hundreds of classmates at the school auditorium.

An assist goes to former Yellow Jacket and current ECU player Ty Holmes.

“I had a visit down there,” Grayson said. “There’s this guy named Ty Holmes. That guy is an incredible dude. He’s at East Carolina. He’s a former Lexington player. I had a great visit with the guys. Coach Ruffin (McNeill), I had a great visit with him. It will be a great environment so I think I’m really going to like it.”

The 6-2, 195-pound Grayson burst onto the scene as a freshman when he broke loose for an 84-yard touchdown run in Lexington’s come-from-behind 22-21 victory over Starmount in the second round of the 2-A state playoffs in 2009.

Grayson was heavily recruited and received offers from North Carolina, Clemson, South Carolina, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Tennessee, Minnesota, N.C. State, Duke as well as ECU.

But national signing day came and went in February with Grayson, a two-time Dispatch All-County player, still undecided.

“Me, I’m the kind of person that I like to kind of wait and hear things out and see what happens,” Grayson said. “Earlier in the year I wasn’t quite sure where exactly I wanted to go. So I left it up to God. I kind of prayed about it.”

He says all the phone calls, visits and stacks of mail never got to him.

“I love pressure,” Grayson said. “I shrug it off and stay focused.”

Grayson, known for his foot speed, ability to outrun defenders, run them over and shift directions, ran for 1,378 yards as a sophomore and 1,093 yards as a junior. He missed several games in his senior season due to injury but is at full speed now and even runs on Lexington’s 4x100 relay team that is competing for a state championship on Friday. Grayson is also regarded as an excellent blocker and is a threat catching passes out of the backfield.

Former Lexington coach Kwayu Graham likened Grayson to Hall of Fame running back Marcus Allen.

“They’re about the same size and build,” Graham said. “They both eye the holes and follow blocks the same way. I’ve never coached anyone as good as him.”

Grayson is hopeful of getting on the field as a true freshman. East Carolina returns rising senior running back Vintavious Cooper, who rushed for 1,084 yards last season. No other Pirate running back gained as much as 400 yards.

“ECU is a great opportunity for me,” Grayson said. “They have some good running backs. I think I can step in and compliment them well.”

Also signing on Thursday from Lexington’s football team were lineman Tommy McGee with Alderson Broaddus College in West Virginia, defensive back Danford Carpenter and wide receiver Melquavius Covington with Ferrum in Virginia, tight end Kris Bradley with Methodist University in Fayetteville, lineman Caleb Worley with Bethany College in Kansas and James Drummond on a track scholarship with Barton College in Kansas.

Drummond’s deal is on a referral from the University of Nebraska, meaning he could eventually end up a Cornhusker.

Grayson and Drummond will close out their high school careers on Friday in the 2-A state track meet at N.C. A&T in Greensboro. They are teammates on the 4x100 relay team. It’s an event that some feel could result in a record time.

“I’m very excited,” Grayson said. “I can’t wait to wake up in the morning and do my best, which is run,” Grayson said.

Soccer players Katie DeZego and Libni Iglesias also signed with Catawba and USC-Salkehatchie, respectively.

Mike Duprez can be reached at 249-3981, ext. 218 or