East Carolina’s Zay Jones is still eight catches away from surpassing former teammate Justin Hardy as the all-time FBS leader in career receptions. But Monday, the senior receiver accomplished something Hardy wasn’t able to do during his final season with the Pirates two years ago. Jones was one of 10 players selected as semifinalists for the Biletnikoff Award, presented annually by the Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation to the nation’s top receiver. It’s an honor for which Hardy was snubbed.The other nine players still in contention for the Biletnikoff Award are Austin Car of Northwestern, Corey Davis of Western Michigan, Amba Etta-Tawo of Syracuse, Carlos Henderson of Louisiana Tech, John Ross of Washington, Taywan Taylor of Western Kentucky, Trent Taylor of Louisiana Tech, James Washington of Oklahoma State and Dede Westbrook of Oklahoma.Three finalists will be selected on Nov. 21 with the award winner announced as part of a made-fot-television college football awards show on Dec. 8. Fans can cast their votes by clicking onto http://biletnikoffaward.com/fan-vote. The aggregate fan tally will count as one official vote in determining the finalists and winner.Not only does Jones lead the nation in receptions this 139 through 10 games, but he has 36 more than his closest rival — Louisiana Tech’s Taylor. The Pirates’ star need only eight more catches to break Hardy’s career mark of 387. He is 17 away from breaking the FBS single-season record of 155 set in 2009 by Bowling Green’s Freddie Barnes. Jones figures to be a lock accomplish both goals, with an average of 14 catches per game. But according to ECU coach Scottie Montgomery, putting his name in the record books is not his main concern, even though the Pirates have officially been eliminated from bowl contention. “That’s not his deal,” Montgomery said. “If it was someone else on the team I would probably say they were pretty conscious of it, just like if another receiver out there was close to it. I don’t know if they could handle it the way he has. “He’s more concerned about our wins and losses. When it comes, it’ll be a big deal for him and we’ll make sure we celebrate it, but the biggest deal is he’s trying to lead in every single way that he can. That’s what he’s focused on.”In addition to his accomplishments on the field, Jones has also distinguished himself in the classroom as well. He was recently named a finalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy, symbolic of the nation’s top scholar-athlete and as a finalist for the Senior CLASS Award, which honors the attributes of community, classroom and character, as well as competition.
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