From a East Carolina walk on to a now NCAA (FBS) record holder for most receptions, Justin Hardy’s journey on this football team sounds like something that could be made into a “book or movie” as Head Coach Ruffin McNeil said.
This past week ECU defeated Tulane as Hardy surpassed the current record holder with his 350th career reception. As always when it comes to Hardy, even during “his” moment it wasn’t about him. “Team first, team last, team always” is something McNeil always mentions.
Hardy would say the same thing. When asked what that moment was like for him when he caught the ball that put his name in the record books, he responded ” I really wasn’t focused on the record. Our team needed a touchdown and that’s what I was trying to do for the team.”
Hardy commended his team and gives his team all the credit for making this possible. “They are the main part of this, everyone relying on each other and coming together doing their jobs made this happen.”
Just prior to halftime, in front of 48,433 fans, ECU celebrated Hardy’s accomplishment. The College Football Hall of Fame recognition on the big screen. The “Thank you Justin” written in lights. The crowd chanting his name, and a banner that actually came as a surprise to Hardy. To everyone it was inevitable that Hardy would receive this award, so apparently they had been working on putting this together for about a month.
I also spoke to Shane Carden, the Pirates dynamic Quarterback. Carden had much praise to give to Hardy. He said ” We didn’t really get to talk much at the moment it happened but after the game we had a long talk and I just told him how proud I was for him and how much he deserves it.”
Carden wasn’t the only one to give praise to Hardy after breaking the record. Coach McNeil could go on and on about him. Coach McNeil mentioned in his press conference about when he thinks of what ECU symbolizes and stands for, it is Justin Hardy.
The whole Pirate nation is so proud of him and all he’s accomplished and done for this team over the years and are looking forward to the next chapter in this book of Hardy.
But, the Pirates can’t bask in the moment to long as they play Tulsa and try to make their record (8-3) with a Thanksgiving win.