Head Coach Ruffin McNeill talks about the 2012 season.
Jan. 20, 2013
GREENVILLE, N.C. - After earning its sixth bowl appearance in the last seven years and compiling its second-highest single-season win total since 1992, East Carolina closed out the 2012 campaign Saturday night as the team, coaches, parents, athletic staff and Pirate Club members gathered for the annual awards banquet at the Greenville Convention Center.
In all, 20 players earned honors after helping the Pirates compile an overall 8-4 mark and match a program-best with a 7-1 Conference USA ledger. Headlining the list were MVP selections Derrell Johnson (defense), Shane Carden (offense) and Justin Hardy (team).
Johnson finished his junior season with 62 tackles and team-bests in sacks (7.0) and TFLs (11.0) from his outside linebacking position, while Carden completed his sophomore campaign and first year as the Pirates' starting quarterback with a 273-of-413, 3,116-yard passing performance that included 23 touchdown throws. Hardy, who starred as an inside receiver and punt returner during his sophomore year, led ECU with 88 catches for 1,105 yards and 11 TDs, while averaging 8.8 yards per return.
Similar to his selection by C-USA in December, junior running back Vintavious Cooper was also the recipient of ECU's Newcomer-of-the-Year Award after becoming the Pirates' first 1,000-yard rusher (1,049) since 2009. During the course of the season, Cooper tallied four 100-yard performances and added seven scores.
Seven were cited as positional players-of-the-year, including senior Andrew Bodenheimer (receivers; 36 catches for 371 yards and three TDs), senior Reggie Bullock (running backs; 80 carries for 387 yards and six TDs), junior Damon Magazu (defensive backs; 80 tackles, six pass breakups), junior Lee Pegues (defensive line; 36 tackles, 4.5 TFLs), junior Will Simmons (offensive line), junior Trent Tignor (special teams; 42.8 punting average) and junior Kyle Tudor (linebackers; 62 tackles, 2.0 TFLs, sack, forced fumble).
Head Coach Ruffin McNeill also recognized players who, according to his coaching staff, made the biggest improvement over the course of season and became high-impact contributors in the starting lineup. Senior tackle Robert Jones, who began his Pirate career as a defensive lineman, took home the honor for the offense, while junior transfer Gabriel Woullard was the defensive choice after netting 49 stops and 3.5 sacks as one of two top outside linebackers.
Senior cornerback Jacobi Jenkins (42 tackles, 11 pass breakups) and Simmons were named the recipients of the Rock Roggeman Heart-of-the-Pirate Award on the defensive and offensive sides of the ball, respectively. The honor, named after the former Pirate linebackers coach who lost his battle with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2010, symbolizes the display of inspirational and motivational leadership.
Contributions to the program off the field were also saluted as Bodenheimer earned the Morris Foreman Iron Pirate Award, selected by the strength and conditioning staff for unparalleled dedication and hard work in the weight room. Juniors Adhem Elsawi (OL) and Matt Milner (DE) received the Jerry T. Brooks Award for academic achievement. The honor was the third-straight for Milner, who a month ago was also a repeat Academic All-America selection.
RB Vintavious Cooper
Defensive Line - Lee Pegues
Defensive Back - Damon Magazu
Linebacker - Kyle Tudor
Offensive Line - Will Simmons *
Running Back - Reggie Bullock
Wide Receiver - Andrew Bodenheimer
Special Teams - Trent Tignor
Morris Foreman Iron Pirate Award (Strength and Conditioning)
WR Andrew Bodenheimer
*denotes repeat selection