GREENVILLE, PITT COUNTY - This is part of a news release from East Carolina University:
East Carolina junior wide receiver Justin Hardy has been named one of 10 semi-finalist for the 2013 Burlsworth Trophy, which is given to the most outstanding collegiate football player who began his career as a walk-on. The former West Craven High School star was one of 53 student-athletes originally nominated for the award.
A three-year starter at wide receiver, Hardy recently became the owner of the school record for career touchdown receptions with 24 after setting the mark against Tulsa on a five-yard grab in the third quarter. He currently ranks second on ECU's all-time receiving charts in receptions (239) and receiving yards (2,810), trailing only Dwayne Harris.
Hardy has nabbed at least three catches in all 33 career games played, recorded nine 100-yard and eight double-digit career reception games, and hauled down at least one TD pass in 23 contests.
The Vanceboro, N.C. native also became the first Pirate receiver to post consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, following a 1,105-yard campaign in 2012 with 1,047 so far in 2013. This season, he leads Conference USA and stands among the top 15 nationally in receiving plays/10-plus yards (3rd/50), longest plays from scrimmage/10-plus yards (5th/50), receptions per game (5th/8.7 pg), receiving yards per game (14th/104.7 pg) and total receiving yards (13th/1,047).
Earlier this year against Tulane, Hardy caught a single-game school record 17 balls for 230 yards, besting his 16-catch, 191-yard game in the season opener against Old Dominion. He is the only player in league history to have multiple 16-plus catches in a game (three times), and his 17 receptions against the Green Wave are tied for third all-time.
As a walk-on in 2010, Hardy served as a valuable member of the scout teams while redshirting during his initial season. After receiving a full scholarship the following spring, he had a breakout year during his first season on the active roster by setting ECU freshman records with 64 receptions and 658 yards, while tying the TD mark with six.
During sophomore season, he earned First-Team All C-USA honors as a receiver and was a second-team choice as a punt returner. He became just the fourth receiver in school history to reach the 1,000-yard mark in a single-season, which ranks third all-time. Hardy also ranked among the school's single-season leaders in receiving TDs (2nd/11) and receptions (3rd/88).
Fans are allowed to vote for their favorite player via the Fan Vote at www.burlsworthtrophy.com. Fans are limited to one vote per day, and the voting will conclude Sunday, Nov. 24, at midnight (CST). The Fan Vote counts as 5 percent during each round of voting, and it is combined with the results from the Selection Committee. Fan Vote totals are cleared after each round.
The trophy is named in honor of Brandon Burlsworth, who walked on to the Arkansas Razorbacks in 1994, worked his way to being a three-year starter and was eventually named an All-American in 1998. Burlsworth was selected as the 63rd overall pick by the Indianapolis Colts in the 1999 NFL Draft but was killed in a car accident 11 days later. The Burlsworth Foundation was created in his memory and supports the physical and spiritual needs of children, in particular those children that have limited opportunities.
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