June 20, 2013
2013 Athlon Sports Preseason All-Conference USA Team
GREENVILLE, N.C. - East Carolina's returning first-team all-league choice from last fall, Justin Hardy, headlines a group of seven Pirate selections on Athlon Sports' 2013 Preseason All-Conference USA team according to a release by the magazine Thursday. ECU's seven overall selections rank tied for second in the conference.
Hardy, a junior inside receiver from Vanceboro, and senior offensive guard Will Simmons were both first-team selections. Hardy is coming off a 2012 campaign where he hauled in 88 passes for 1,105 yards and 11 touchdowns, while Simmons, an Ahoskie native who earned second team all-conference recognition last year, helped clear the way for an offensive unit that produced both a 1,000-yard rusher and a 3,000-yard passer. Hardy, who stood third in C-USA with a punt return average of 8.8 last fall, picked up an additional first-team selection as a specialist by Athlon.
Earning spots on the top defensive squad for the Pirates were linebackers Jeremy Grove and Derrell Johnson. Grove, a junior from Fredrick, Maryland, led the team in stops with 83 and ranked tied for second on the squad with two forced fumbles to earn All-Conference USA honors for the second-straight season. Johnson, a senior from Baltimore, Maryland, was an all-league performer last fall and ranked among the top 10 in the league with 7.0 sacks. He also netted 11 stops for lost yardage among his 62 total tackles.
Cooper was selected as C-USA's Newcomer-of-the-Year and earned all-league (second-team) honors after a dazzling debut in ECU's backfield. He appeared in all 13 games, which included eight starts, and authored four 100-yard rushing games (151/UTEP, 172/UAB, 121/Navy, 140/UH). He ran for 1,049 yards on 200 carries (5.2 ypc) with seven touchdowns.
The Pirates open the 2013 season with three straight home games starting with a 7 p.m. contest against Old Dominion on August 31 at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.