Hardy Wins Burlsworth Trophy

SPRINGDALE, ARK — ECU record-breaking receiver Justin Hardy was awarded the Burlsworth Trophy Monday for college football's most outstanding player who began their career as a walk-on.

East Carolina senior receiver Justin Hardy has been named the fifth winner of the Burlsworth Trophy Monday afternoon at a ceremony hosted by the Springdale (Ark.) Rotary Club. The award is given to the nation’s most outstanding player who began his career as a walk-on. On hand to present the trophy to Hardy was ESPN’s Holly Rowe and Marty Burlsworth, founder and CEO, of The Brandon Burlsworth Foundation.

A four-year starter at wide receiver, Hardy has caught more passes (376) than any player in the NCAA (FBS) history – a record he set against Tulane on Nov. 22 ending his pursuit of former Oklahoma pass catcher Ryan Broyles’ (2008-11) mark of 349. Heading in to his final collegiate game against Florida in the Birmingham Bowl on Jan. 3, 2015, Hardy ranks second nationally in receptions (110) and fifth in receiving yards (1,334).

Hardy, who also owns ECU career records for receiving yards (4,381) and touchdown catches (34), has nabbed at least two catches in all 48 career games played, recorded 14 double-digit career reception games, 16 100-yard receiving contests and hauled down at least one TD pass in 30 contests. In the Pirates’ regular season finale against UCF, he caught a game-high 12 passes for 140 yards to break his own single-season record for receiving yards set a year ago. Hardy also needs five more receptions against the Gators to eclipse his single-season receptions standard with 114.

The Vanceboro, N.C. native is the lone Pirate receiver to post three-straight 1,000-yard seasons (1,105 in 2012, 1,284 in 2013, 1,334 in 2014), and against Cincinnati became just the 16th player in FBS history with 4,000-plus receiving yards, which came on a 31-yard reception in the third quarter – currently ranks sixth on the all-time FBS list. He currently stands among the FBS leaders (Top 20) in receptions per game (1st/9.2 pg), receiving yards per game (6th/111.2 pg) and receiving TDs (19th/9).

A two-time First-Team All-Conference USA receiver, Hardy hauled down an ECU and league-best 114 passes for 1,284 yards a year ago to establish new single-season Pirate records to go along with his eight touchdowns. Against Tulane, he caught a single-game school record 17 balls for 230 yards, besting his 16-catch, 191-yard game in the season opener against Old Dominion. At the conclusion of his junior year, he was the only player in league history to have multiple 16-plus catches in a game (three times), and his 17 receptions against the Green Wave are tied for third all-time.

As a walk-on in 2010, Hardy served as a valuable member of the scout teams while redshirting during his initial season. After receiving a full scholarship the following spring, he had a breakout year during his first season on the active roster by setting ECU freshman records with 64 receptions and 658 yards, while tying the TD mark with six.

During sophomore season, he earned First-Team All C-USA honors as a receiver and was a second-team choice as a punt returner. He became just the fourth receiver in school history to reach the 1,000-yard mark in a single-season, which ranks fifth all-time. Hardy also ranked among the school's single-season leaders in receiving TDs (2nd/11) and receptions (3rd/88).

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