Nine Pirates Receive All-AAC Recognition

Providence, R.I. — Nine seniors garnered all-conference honors in an American Athletic Conference announcement Wednesday.

East Carolina seniors Shane Carden, Justin Hardy, Taylor Hudson and Terry Williams have been named First-Team All-American Conference according to an announcement by the league office Wednesday.

The Pirates also placed five players on the second-team in ILB Zeek Bigger, OL J.T. Boyd, OL Ike Harris, ILB Brandon Williams and TE Bryce Williams.

Carden, who earned Conference USA Most Valuable Player honors a year ago, was also named the American’s Offensive Player-of-the-Year by the leagues coaches following another stellar season as the Pirates top signal caller. The Houston, Texas prep product guided the Pirates to an 8-4 overall record and a 5-3 ledger in their first year as a member of the American Conference. Carden has passed for a conference record and ECU single-season best 4,309 yards, completing 65.0 percent of his passes (359 of 551) with 28 touchdowns. He has also added six ground scores, which ranks second on the team behind Breon Allen’s eight.

A Davey O’Brien Award and Earl Campbell Tyler Rose semifinalist as well as a three-time league player-of-the-week selection, Carden already owns ECU career records in completions (1,018), attempts (1,513), TDs (84), passing yards (11,564), total offense (11,831) and total plays (1,775). He also owns the ECU single-game standard for completions (46/ODU), passing yards (480/Tulane) and TDs accounted for (7/Tulsa), while tying his own mark with five passing scores on three occasions (ODU, Tulsa, UAB).

Carden has engineered a Pirate offense that has racked up 500 yards or more total offense seven times, including a school-record 789 yards in a 70-41 win over North Carolina. He has authored a league-best five 400-yard passing efforts, which ranks second nationally behind Connor Halliday (Washington State), who has six.

Hardy, who earned his third-straight first-team honor, was the lone unanimous all-conference selection by the leagues head coaches. Winner of the 2014 Burlsworth Trophy, which is given to the nation's most outstanding player who began his career as a walk-on, Hardy heads into his final collegiate game against Florida in the Birmingham Bowl on Jan. 3, 2015, ranking second nationally in receptions (110) and fifth in receiving yards (1,334).

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.

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).

Hudson, a first-time all-conference selection, has started all 12 games at center. Alongside second-team selections Boyd and Harris, they have anchored an offensive line unit that has produced four 100-yard rushers while providing pass protection for five 400-yard passing efforts by Carden. The trio have been a key members of an offensive unit that has produced 450 yards or more of total offense 10 times while standing among the national team leaders in passing offense (2nd/367.3 pg), total offense (5th/532.8 pg) and scoring (14th/37.2 ppg).

A three-year starter at nose tackle, Terry Williams also earned his first career all-conference selection. The Loganville, Ga. native has played in 37 career games making 19 starts (eight in 2014) while booking 126 total tackles (41 solo). During his four-year career, Williams has also added 17.0 TFLs, three sacks, forced five fumbles, blocked a pair of punts and batted down five passes.

Bigger, who earned C-USA honorable mention accolades as a sophomore, leads the American Conference and ranks seventh nationally with 134 stops (63 solo). The Gastonia, N.C. native has recorded double-digit stops on eight occasions this season including a career-best 17 against in-state foe North Carolina where he also returned an interception 46 yards for a score helping him earn Walter Camp National Defensive-Player-of-the-Week honors.

Joining Bigger as a second-team selection is fellow inside linebacker Brandon Williams. The Pirates defensive captain ranks second on the team with 113 tackles (49 solo) and 4.5 sacks, while leading the squad with 10.5 TFLs (-45 yards). In the Pirates season finale against UCF, Williams booked a career-best 17 tackles (11 in the first half) posting his fifth career double-digit performance. During his four-year career, Williams has booked 192 tackles (83 solo), tallied 17.0 TFLs, 5.0 sacks, picked off a pair of passes and forced two fumbles.

Rounding out the Pirates post-season honors is junior tight end Bryce Williams. The Winston-Salem, N.C. native, who earned C-USA honorable mention honors as a sophomore, has started five of 12 games catching 17 balls for 232 yards (13.6 ypc) with four touchdowns. In the Pirates road finale at Tulsa, he posted his first career multi-TD game hauling down passes of 15 and 13 yards in a 49-32 victory. During his three-year career, Williams has 37 receptions for 452 yards (12.2 ypc) with nine scores.


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