Tennessee fans certainly took note when one of their most coveted prospects named Alabama his leader last week. However, there is no need to fret just yet.
National Signing Day is still nearly a month away, and the Vols continue to be in position to pull the upset for 5-star Mecole Hardman Jr. The Vols still clearly trail for Hardman, but Tennessee still has a chance.
“They’ve been there since the beginning,” the nation’s No. 1 athlete from Elbert County High School (Elberton, Ga.) said. “They were one of the first schools to offer me. They’ve been on me hard and they’ve been on me hard ever since.”
Hardman was a hot commodity last week in San Antonio leading up to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. The 5-foot-10, 169-pound prospect played receiver and defensive back.
“It’s nice,” Hardman said of playing offense and defense. “I like it. I think I’m going to do the same thing in college and have fun with it.”
Tennessee could offer Hardman the opportunity to do both since receiver and defensive back are positions of need in the Vols’ 2016 signing class. Most have Hardman pegged as a receiver. However, he has the ability to excel as a defensive back.
“I love defensive back. as well,” said Hardman, who is the No. 2 prospect in Georgia. “At defensive back, you have to be patient and wait for your chance to shine. I think offense is a lot more fun, especially than corner because if they’re not throwing (to you), you don’t get a lot of action, but that’s just how it is.”
Hardman was one of the most coveted prospects last week in San Antonio. He was constantly recruited by other committed prospects from several schools, including Ohio State, Georgia and Miami. Despite his declaration that Bama is the leader, other schools aren’t going to quit.
“It’s not bad that I put Alabama first,” Hardman said. “The other schools, they’re doing what they’re supposed to do (in recruiting me)…I decided that was the school that stood out to me, that had the best chance to possess my ability, to help me take it to the next level.”
Hardman has seen much change in his recruitment, namely coaching changes at Alabama and Georgia, another school coming hard after the 5-star.
“You commit to the school and not the coaches, but you say that but you build a relationship with the coaches…You just want to go where you feel comfortable, where your parents like and where you feel at home,” Hardman said.
Tennessee is hoping Knoxville, Tenn., fits the bill.