Five ECU Football Players Honored By C-USA

IRVING, Texas – East Carolina had 12 players named to All-Conference USA football teams, according to an announcement from the league office Tuesday. Headlining the selections for the Pirates’ was sophomore first-team receiver Justin Hardy.

ECU placed five players on the second team in junior running back Vintavious Cooper, junior offensive lineman Will Simmons, senior defensive lineman Michael Brooks, junior linebacker Derrell Johnson and Hardy as a punt returner. Receiving honorable mention nods were sophomore quarterback Shane Carden, junior offensive lineman Adhem Elsawi, junior defensive lineman Lee Pegues, sophomore linebacker Jeremy Grove, junior defensive back Damon Magazu, sophomore kicker Warren Harvey and junior punter Trent Tignor.

Hardy has been a key component to the Pirates’ potent passing attack this season, currently ranking second in Conference USA in receptions per game (6.92), while standing third in receiving yards per contest (87.17). He also rates among the best at the FBS level, ranking 18th in receptions per game, 26th in total receiving yards (1,046) and 29th in receiving yards per game. His 83 catches are tied for the fourth-most in ECU single-season history, while his 1,046 yards are the third-highest total for the program in a single campaign. He has found his way to the endzone 10 times this season and has had at least a touchdown catch in nine games. Among league players this year, he is tied for second with five 100-yard receiving games and established an ECU single-game mark for receptions with 16, while also racking up 171 receiving yards in a win over Marshall.

Hardy has also worked as the team’s punt returner this season and is averaging a league third-best 9.67 yards per runback. He began his season with a 43-yard return against Appalachian State and also recorded a 41-yarder against Houston.

Cooper has worked as ECU’s primary ball carrier this season, standing fifth in the conference with an average of 85.8 yards per game. Among league players, he is tied for second with four 100-yard rushing games. Cooper has totaled 1,030 yards on the ground this season on 191 carries (5.4 ypc) and became the first ECU back since 2009 to break the 1,000-yard rushing barrier. He ran for 172 yards and two touchdowns, plus picked up a 30-yard touchdown reception against UAB in the first of his three consecutive 100-yard rushing games.

Simmons, the starting right guard, has helped the Pirates rank among the top-six in the conference in passing efficiency (4th), passing offense (5th), fewest sacks allowed (5th), total offense (6th) and scoring offense (6th). The ECU offense has also totaled 400 yards or more on five occasions, including a 600-yard effort (214 rush and 386 passing) against UAB.

Brooks, despite being limited to 10 games because of injury, still ranks second among all Pirate defensive linemen with 34 tackles. He has also recorded 3.5 tackles for lost yardage, a pair of sacks, three quarterback hurries and an interception. Brooks began his season as the starting nose tackle, but has recently contributed as the starting defensive end in five of the last six games. He finished strong in recording six tackles and a sack against both Tulane and Marshall over the final two games, while also netting his second career interception off a tipped pass.

After switching positions from end to outside linebacker in the off-season, Johnson had a breakout campaign as a junior by leading the team in sacks (0.58) and tackles for loss yardage (0.92). Of Johnson’s seven sacks this season, six came over the final three games. His 58 tackles rank fourth on the team, while his 11.0 tackles for lost yardage are six more than his next closest teammate. Johnson also tops the team in quarterback pressures with seven and recovered fumbles with two. He collected his biggest fumble recovery of the season in the second overtime period against Marshall to thwart a Thundering Herd drive and allow the Pirates to score the game-winning touchdown in a 65-59 victory. The Marshall contest was his finest of the season as he recorded a career-high 14 tackles, including 2.5 sacks and two stops for lost yardage.

Carden, the trigger man for the Pirates’ offense, officially became ECU’s starting quarterback in the third week of the season and never relinquished the position the last 10 games. He finished his regular season ranking second in the league in passing efficiency (144.93) and sixth in total offense (242.58). Carden completed 248-of-371 attempts for 2,838 yards and 21 passing touchdowns, while leading the squad with eight rushing touchdowns. Carden tied a school-record with five passing touchdowns against Memphis. He threw for 386 yards and two scores against UAB before connecting on 38-of-47 passes (81 percent) for a program-standard 439 yards and three touchdowns against Marshall. He also was able to record three rushing scores in the game, including the game-winner on a one-yard sneak in the second overtime.

Elsawi, the team’s starting left tackle, has served as the anchor on the opposite side of the line to Simmons. After playing both guard and tackle in his first year with the program, the Campbell transfer found a home as a fixture on the left in his second year and aided the Pirates to rank among C-USA’s top-six in passing efficiency (4th), passing offense (5th), fewest sacks allowed (5th), total offense (6th) and scoring offense (6th). The ECU offense has also totaled 400 yards or more on five occasions this season, including a 600-yard performance (214 rush and 386 passing) against UAB.

Pegues was another stalwart along the defensive line for the Pirates, appearing in all 12 games with 11 starts primarily at the defensive end slot. Among all linemen, Pegues ranks third on the team in tackles with 31. He is also tied for third among all defenders in tackles for lost yardage with 4.5. He recovered the first fumble of his career against UTEP, tied his career-high with six stops against Memphis and tallied two tackles for lost yardage among his four stops against UAB.

For the second-straight season, Grove earned honorable mention selection to the league’s all-conference team. He placed second on the team with 71 tackles and 36 solo stops, while ranking tied for third with 4.5 stops for lost yardage. Grove’s 52 tackles on running plays were the most on the team this season. The inside linebacker tallied nine tackles and forced the first two fumbles of his career in ECU’s 2012 opener against Appalachian State. Grove posted the second of five nine-stop outings against North Carolina before providing similar results against Southern Miss, UCF and Memphis.

Magazu offered the Pirates a constant and steady presence in the secondary by leading the team both tackles, 72, and solo stops, 37. Magazu has also recorded five pass breakups and an interception. Seven times he tallied six or more tackles in a game. The free safety tied his career high with 12 tackles against Navy, knocked away three passes against Houston and recorded seven tackles and an interception against Marshall.

Harvey has successfully converted 11 of his last 12 field goal attempts and all 46 extra points this season. He is tied for sixth in the conference in field goals per game (1.08) and is ninth in the league in scoring (7.08). Harvey is 11-for-12 (91.6 percent) on field goal tries between 20 and 39 yards and his longest three-pointer was from 54 yards at the end of the first half against UAB.

Tignor is sixth in the conference with his average of 42.4 yards a kick. He has also placed 12 of his kicks inside the 20 and delivered eight punts that traveled 50 yards or more, including a long of 65 against Navy. Tignor was named the C-USA Special Teams Player-of-the-Week on Sept. 17 after his strong performance against Southern Miss when he punted 10 times for 422 yards and placed three inside the 20. He was an honorable mention selection to the College Football Performance Awards list after averaging 52.5 yards a boot against Navy.

The league’s individual awards will be released Wednesday, December 5. Conference USA will conclude its 2012 season by sending five teams to bowl games.

2012 All-Conference USA Teams
First Team
QB – Rakeem Cato, So., Marshall
RB - Zach Line, Sr., SMU
RB – Latavius Murray, Sr., UCF
RB – Darrin Reaves, So., UAB
OL – Jacolby Ashworth, Sr., Houston
OL – Brian DeShane, Sr., Tulsa
OL – Jared Grigg, Sr., Tulsa
OL – Chris Hubbard, Sr., UAB
OL – Jordan Rae, Sr., UCF
TE – Vance McDonald, Sr., Rice
WR – Ryan Grant, Sr., Tulsa
WR – Justin Hardy, So., East Carolina
WR – Tommy Shuler, So., Marshall

DL – Jamie Collins, Sr., Southern Miss
DL – Troy Davis, Sr., UCF
DL – Cory Dorris, Sr., Tulsa
DL – Margus Hunt, Sr., SMU
LB – DeAundre Brown, Sr., Tulsa
LB – Ja’Gared Davis, Sr., SMU
LB – Phillip Stewart, Sr., Houston
DB – Phillip Gaines, Jr., Rice
DB – D.J. Hayden, Sr., Houston
DB – Kemal Ishmael, Sr., UCF
DB – Dexter McCoil, Sr., Tulsa

Special Teams
K – Cairo Santos, Jr., Tulane
P – Richie Leone, Jr., Houston
KR – Quincy McDuffie, Sr., UCF
PR – J.J. Worton, So., UCF
LS – Billy Johnson, Gr., Tulane

Second Team
QB – Blake Bortles, So., UCF
RB – Vintavious Cooper, Jr., East Carolina
RB – Charles Sims, Jr., Houston
OL – Bryan Collins, Sr., SMU
OL – Jordan Devey, Sr., Memphis
OL – Trent Dupy, Sr., Tulsa
OL – Will Simmons, Jr., East Carolina
OL – Torrian Wilson, So., UCF
TE – Gator Hoskins, Jr., Marshall
WR – Aaron Dobson, Sr., Marshall
WR – Keyarris Garrett, So., Tulsa
WR – Darius Johnson, Sr., SMU

DL – Michael Brooks, Sr., East Carolina
DL – Johnnie Farms, Jr., Memphis
DL – Martin Ifedi, So., Memphis
DL – Jared St. John, Sr., Tulsa
LB – Martin Burdette, Sr., UAB
LB – Derrell Johnson, Jr., East Carolina
LB - Taylor Reed, Sr., SMU
DB – Kenneth Acker, Jr., SMU
DB – A.J. Bouye, Sr., UCF
DB – Dominick LeGrande, Gr., Marshall
DB – Marco Nelson, Jr., Tulsa

Special Teams
K – Chris Boswell, Jr., Rice
P - Ian Campbell, Sr., UTEP
KR – Trey Watts, Jr., Tulsa
PR – Justin Hardy, So., East Carolina
LS – Brandon Hartson, Sr., Houston

Honorable Mention
QB – Shane Carden, So., East Carolina
QB – Cody Green, Jr., Tulsa
QB – Ryan Griffin, Sr., Tulane
QB- Taylor McHargue, Jr., Rice
RB – Nathan Jeffery, So., UTEP
RB – Alex Singleton, Sr., Tulsa
RB- Trey Watts, Jr., Tulsa
OL – Eloy Atkinson, Sr., UTEP
OL – Drew Carroll, So., Rice
OL – Adhem Elsawi, Jr., East Carolina
OL – Jordan Free, Sr., SMU
OL – Chris Jasperse, So., Marshall
OL – Jordan Jefferies, Jr., Marshall
OL – Eric Jones, Sr., Tulane
OL – Jordan McCray, Jr., UCF
OL – James Nelson, Sr., UTEP
OL – Austin Quattrochi, Sr., Southern Miss
OL – Bryce Redman, So., Houston
OL – Alex Schooler, Jr., Marshall
OL – Jason Weaver, Sr., Southern Miss
OL – Caleb Williams, Fr., Rice
TE – Kennard Backman, So., UAB
TE – Justin Tukes, So., UCF
TE – Craig Wenrick, Jr., UTEP
TE – Luke Wilson, Sr., Rice
WR – Mike Edwards, Sr., UTEP
WR – Rannell Hall, So., UCF
WR – Jordan James, Jr., Tulsa
WR- Jeremy Johnson, Jr., SMU
WR – Sam McGuffie, Sr., Rice
WR – Marcus Rucker, Sr., Memphis
WR – Jackie Williams, Jr., UAB
WR – Antavious Wilson, Sr., Marshall

DL – Marcus Bagley, Jr., UTEP
DL – Alex Bazzie, Jr., Marshall
DL – Cody Bauer, Jr., Rice
DL – Christian Covington, Fr., Rice
DL – Austen Jacks, Sr., Tulane
DL – Derrick Jackson, Sr., Tulsa
DL – Horace Miller, Jr., UTEP
DL – Lee Pegues, Jr., East Carolina
DL – Torlan Pittman, Sr., SMU
DL – Hosam Shanin, Jr., Rice
DL – Terry Redden, So., Memphis
DL – Brandon Sparrow, Jr., Marshall
DL – Rakeem Nunez-Roches, So., Southern Miss
DL – Julius Warmsley, Jr., Tulane
DL – Greg Watkins, Sr., UTEP
LB – Anthony Brown, Jr., Memphis
LB – Jeremy Grove, So., East Carolina
LB – Shawn Jackson, Jr., Tulsa
LB – Tank Jakes, So., Memphis
LB – Derrick Mathews, So., Houston
LB – Cameron Nwosu, Jr., Rice
LB – Josh Fely, Sr., UTEP
DB – Lonnie Ballentine, Jr., Memphis
DB – Jordan Batiste, Fr., Tulane
DB – Lorenzo Doss, Fr., Tulane
DB – DeShawn Grayson, Sr., UTEP
DB – Calvin Jones, Jr., UAB
DB – Damon Magazu, Jr., East Carolina
DB – Zach McMillian, Jr., Houston
DB – Okechukwu Okoroha, Gr., Marshall
DB – Paul Porras, Jr., Rice
DB – Lowell Rose, Sr., Tulsa
DB – Deron Wilson, Sr., Southern Miss
DB – Darren Woodward, Sr., UTEP

Special Teams
K – Justin Haig, So., Marshall
K – Warren Harvey, So., East Carolina
K – Matt Hogan, Sr., Houston
K – Ty Long, So., UAB
P – Tom Hornsey, Jr., Memphis
P – Mike Loftus, So., SMU
P – Hunter Mullins, So., UAB
P – Trent Tignor, Jr., East Carolina
KR – Autrey Golden, Fr., UTEP
KR – Bobby McCain, So., Memphis
PR – Mike Edwards, Sr., UTEP
LS – Nick Dooley, Fr., UTEP
LS – Trevor Gillette, Jr., Rice
LS – Taylor Klein, Sr., UAB