Several Pirates garner individual honors

Shane Carden earned the title of Conference-USA MVP. Along with two other East Carolina players, Carden also garnered first team all-conference honors.

East Carolina's 9-3 (6-2 Conference-USA) record earned the team a bid in the Beef O'Brady's Bowl, but individual performance earned Shane Carden C-USA's Most Valuable Player as voted by the league's coaches.

The Pirates' quarterback also earned first team all-C-USA honors along with wide receiver Justin Hardy and offensive lineman Will Simmons.

"Shane was well deserving of that," said head coach Ruffin McNeill. "I thought Shane did it on the field. Week in and week out, he did a great job of leading the team. The offensive line, Shane will tell you, is one of the most important things in those accomplishments."

Simmons, a 6'5", 342-pound senior played a crucial role in keeping Carden upright. However, like many of the accomplishments that led to these individual honors, it was a team effort. "It was a great honor," said Simmons. "But, like I told the rest of the group, if it wasn't for them and if it wasn't for (offensive line) coach [Brandon] Jones then I wouldn't have."

Of course, another important part of Carden's success, and the success of the team as a whole, is the chemistry he has with Hardy.

In November, Hardy caught his 23rd career touchdown—breaking the record previously held by current Washington Redskins receiver Lance Lewis. This season alone, Hardy has 105 receptions for 1,218 yards and eight touchdowns.

"It's great," said Hardy. "The work that I've put in on the field and the offseason and carrying it on the field is great."

None of these players could have made first team all-conference by himself. It's because team success yields individual success that these personal awards are indicative of the success of the whole Pirate squad.

Beyond that is the fact that Carden—the team's quarterback and offensive core—racked up so many personal awards is especially representative of how well ECU has performed this year.

"When you get a quarterback that starts winning awards," said Carden, "it's always kind of a team award. If you get a good quarterback back there but don't have an offensive line and don't have good players around him, he can't do much."

"The offensive line has played great all year," Carden continued. "They've given me time and the receivers have just made numerous plays with the ball. Like I've said all year, they make my job pretty easy."

Carden is the first quarterback from ECU to be named to C-USA's all-conference team and first ECU player to be named MVP since now-Dallas Cowboys return specialist Dwayne Harris in 2010.

"It's very awesome to be in the same mention as Dwayne Harris," said Carden. "He won it a few years back. I was here at the end of his career here and the way he carried himself and the athlete he was—just being able to win the award he won at some point is an awesome feeling."

In addition to the three players that made first team all-conference, five players were given second team all-conference honors: Damon Magazu, Lee Pegues, Derrell Johnson, Vintavious Cooper, and Jordan.


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