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East Carolina picked as favorites to win C-USA East

Posted July 17, 2013

FILE: East Carolina Pirates wide receiver Justin Hardy (2). East Carolina defeats Memphis 41-7 at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in Greenville North Carolina. (Photos By Anthony Barham)

East Carolina University was picked as the favorites to win the Conference USA East Division crown this season, according to the league’s 14 head football coaches Wednesday.

The Pirates received 11 first place votes and a total of 95 points placing them ahead of Marshall (82) and Middle Tennessee (70). Tulsa was a unanimous favorite to win the C-USA West Division title with 98 points.

Head coach Ruffin McNeill lead the Pirates to an 8-5 overall record and a 7-1 C-USA record in 2012. The Pirates made their sixth bowl appearance in the last seven years and were co-division champions.

McNeill, who received a contract extension through 2017 in June, has 16 returning positional starters with eight on each side of the ball. Among those returning, key impact players include wide receiver Justin Hardy, linebacker Derrell Johnson and offensive lineman Will Simmons.

Hardy, who was named to the 2013 Biletnikoff Award Watch List, caught 88 passes for 1,105 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. The 6-foot-1 rising junior scored at least one touchdown in 10 games last year.

Johnson is one of 51 linebackers to named to the 2013 Butkus Award Watch List. The 6-foot-2 outside linebacker tallied 62 total tackles, a team-leading seven sacks, two fumble recoveries, eight quarterback pressures and 11 tackles for loss. The Cardinal Gibbons High School product returns for his senior season.

Simmons, who was named to the 2013 Outland Watch List as a rising senior, played 12 games last season as a vital member of the offensive line. The 6-foot-5 right guard graduated from Hertford County High School in 2010.

The Pirates’ season opener against Old Dominion will take place Aug. 31 at 7 p.m. ET in Greenville.

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  • tcoutouzis Jul 18, 3:55 p.m.

    Go Pirates!

  • nctrooper27560 Jul 18, 12:20 p.m.

    Ball spotted of the goaline of the tar heels where it is a first down......Piratesssssss arghhhh

  • Willie_11 Jul 18, 8:56 a.m.

    Should be a great year for the Purple and Gold! Go Pirates!

  • NCSU84 Jul 18, 8:54 a.m.

    Hope the season goes well for ECU. A championship in their last year in CUSA would be great!

  • Purple_Pir8 Jul 18, 8:08 a.m.

    GO PIRATES!!! PURPLE!

  • 4tarheels Jul 18, 4:50 a.m.

    Let's go Pirates!

  • chance6021 Jul 17, 4:08 p.m.

    Go Pirates! Hope Coach Smith tightens up the defense and we do more than win C-USA.

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