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McNeill: Carden, Hardy paid their price

Posted August 19, 2014

As the East Carolina football team moves out of their camp dorms Tuesday, head coach Ruffin McNeill told Mike Maniscalco on The Buzz that this preseason has been really competitive.

"Because of the openings and jobs and opportunities the competitiveness at each position has been fantastic and that's what you want, competitive depth," said McNeill.

The Pirates lost 11 starters to graduation but McNeill said with they way they play, many of the replacements have already seen a lot of time on the field.

"One of the things from day one, we've built it block by block getting the right person, the right young man in," said McNeill. "We've recruited for competitive depth. We might have lost 11 starters but we play a lot of kids, we expose a lot of kids to competition."

Two positions coach McNeill doesn't have to worry about is in quarterback Shane Carden and wide receiver Justin Hardy.

"When you have two guys there who came in understanding what we wanted, a commitment towards team and the commitment towards the vision and mission - those guys lead the way," said McNeill. "They are your hardest workers, they understand team wise and chemistry wise how important it is. They worked everyday like they may lose their job if they don't."

Carden played two years on the scout team before getting the starting position, Hardy was a walk-on. Now, both have graduated and are in grad school, ready to lead the team in their final seasons.

"Those guys have paid their price, they never hung their heads they kept fighting," said McNeill. "They are on the field with their leadership in how they work, they do a great job in leading and the kids follow them."

East Carolina is heading into their first season in the American Athletic Conference after making the move to the conference for the 2014 season.

"I'm really excited for the country to see our program and our people," said McNeill. "The kids are excited, the fans are. After that we had to get right down to reality, that's there, we know we're in this conference, now let's make sure this team is ready to go."

The Pirates open their season against North Carolina Central on Aug. 30.

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