Athlon Sports Selects Six Pirates For Preseason All-C-USA Honors

Justin Hardy

June 20, 2013

2013 Athlon Sports Preseason All-Conference USA Team

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.



Making Athlon's second-team unit were junior quarterback Shane Carden and senior running back Vintavious Cooper. Carden turned in the program's third-highest single season passing total last fall with 3,116 yards and 23 touchdowns. After earning the starting assignment in the third game, Carden played a key role in leading the Pirates to a division co-championship and the program's sixth bowl appearance in the last seven years by completing 273-of-413 attempts to earn All-Conference USA honors. Carden ranked among the league leaders in passing efficiency (3rd/143.01), passing yards per game (4th/239.7) and total offense (5th/245.4).

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.