Carden, Hardy connecting in record-setting fashion for Pirates
Posted August 11, 2014
Greenville, N.C. — The quarterback and the wide receiver are bound together by natural order of football law. However, a simple pitch-and-catch can't adequately sum up the Pirate partnership of Shane Carden and Justin Hardy.
"Me and Justin both had very humble beginnings,” Carden said. “He came in as a walk-on. I got offered from ECU about a week before signing day and before that I only had one other offer."
The two quickly got on the same page.
"We went into our freshman year, had the same major, took the same classes together, we were on the scout team together," recalled Hardy.
Carden went from scout-team position player to one of the most observed quarterbacks in the country as he has been named to the 2014 Davey O’Brien, Maxwell and Walter Camp watch lists. Hardy went from walk-on to one of just three returning players in the nation that caught over 100 passes last year. He too is on the Maxwell watch list this year along with the Biletnikoff watch list for the nation’s top receiver.
"I remember Shane being a tight end and a running back on the scout team,” said ECU head coach Ruffin McNeil. “Putting on different jerseys and numbers and helmets, he never flinched, never pouted, and Justin's the same way."
They are now far removed from unheralded high schoolers having combined for nearly 12,000 total yards in just three years – much of which coming in partnership.
"And they still practice today, like they would lose their job," said McNeil.
"The great ones do. The great ones have a hunger about them, they love to play the game,” said offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley. “They have a chip on their shoulder. To me, if those guys were five-star guys, they still would carry that."
Carden enters 2014 with the schools three top passing games in terms of yards, is the only ECU quarterback to eclipse 4,000 passing yards in a season and needs 1,775 yards to become the career passing leader in Greenville. Hardy owns nearly every school record in the receiving department, including career touchdowns and yards
Still, the dynamic duo is forever tied together by more than record-shattering stats.
"Just to go through something like this with someone who's equally as humble, and just a guy who really cares about the team has been such a fun experience,” said Carden. “It'll definitely be a relationship I'll have for the rest of my life.”