AARON BEARD|AP Sports Writer
GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) - Vintavious Cooper has emerged to give East Carolina a strong running threat in the Pirates' pass-heavy spread.
The junior college transfer has gone from sixth on the preseason depth chart to the Pirates' first 1,000-yard rusher in four seasons heading into Saturday's game against Louisiana in the New Orleans Bowl.
Cooper has started the past seven games at running back for the Pirates (8-4), averaging nearly 104 yards rushing in that span with six touchdowns
He's rushed for 1,030 yards and seven scores for the season, earning second-team all-Conference USA honors as well as being named the league's newcomer of the year.
Coach Ruffin McNeill said Cooper's emergence has also helped the development of first-year starter Shane Carden at quarterback.
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