Three more rookies from the Panthers' 2010 draft class are officially in the fold as sixth-round choices
Hardy, 6-foot-4 and 277 pounds, played in 40 games with 13 starts at defensive end for Mississippi and led or tied for the team lead in sacks in three of four seasons. He gathered 147 tackles, 39.5 tackles for loss, 26.5 sacks, 13 quarterback pressures, seven forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, one interception and 10 passes defensed.
"He's really an exceptional pass rusher," said Panthers general manager Marty Hurney. "He's got the size, the height, weight and athletic ability that is hard to find in 4-3 ends."
An athletic pass rusher with a good combination of size and speed, Hardy twice earned All-SEC honors – a second-team choice as a junior and first-team selection as a sophomore. He led the Rebels and finished third in the conference with 8.5 sacks in 2008 and ranked first in the conference with 10 sacks, second with 18.5 tackles for loss and third with three forced fumbles in 2007. Hardy was a freshman All-America honorable mention by The Sporting News in 2006 when he tied for the team lead with three sacks.
The 5-foot-11, 196-pound Pugh played in 50 games with 37 starts at Texas A&M, lining up at safety as a sophomore and senior and cornerback as a freshman and junior. He tallied 221 tackles, one sack, one forced fumble, four fumble recoveries, four interceptions and 19 passes defensed and contributed 14 punt returns for 77 yards.
"He is a safety who can run and has good acceleration," Hurney said. "We like him at safety, and he could even have some corner skills."
Pugh posted team highs of three interceptions and nine passes defensed and ranked second on the Aggies with 84 tackles as a senior in 2009 to be named an All-Big 12 Conference honorable mention. From his free safety position as a sophomore in 2007, he led the team's defensive backs with 90 tackles and finished second with six passes defensed before starting 12 games at cornerback as a junior in 2008.
A 5-foot-9, 195-pound cornerback and return specialist, McClain played in 46 games with 18 starts for Connecticut. He collected 129 tackles, one sack, 10 interceptions, 14 passes defensed, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries in addition to returning 15 kickoffs for 271 yards and 23 punts for 274 yards and one touchdown.
McClain garnered second-team All-Big Conference recognition as a senior in 2009 after leading the Huskies' defensive backs with 64 tackles, ranking second with four interceptions and tying for first with six passes defensed. He also finished second in the conference with a 12.6-yard average on 21 punt returns with one touchdown. McClain intercepted three passes as a junior in 2008 and returned two of them for touchdowns, including a 28-yard return off of current teammate
Carolina now has five of its 10 draft picks under contract with Hardy, Pugh and McClain joining sixth-round choice
Also, the Panthers have waived tight end Andrew George, punter Blake Haudan, safety Matt O'Hanlon, tackle Mark Ortmann, kicker Aaron Pettrey and running back Daniel Porter. All six players had been signed as undrafted rookie free agents following the NFL Draft on April 30.