We are down to the last few players for our Reviewing the Redshirt series (just in time for the start of spring practice).
Up next is a versatile defensive back who could see time at either safety or corner. For a look at past players, click on the links below:
More after the jump.
S/CB Eilar Hardy
Hometown: Reynoldsburg, OH (Pickerington Central)
Rivals: 4 Star (#15 S, #11 in OH), #217 Overall
ESPN: 3 Star (#21 S, #14 in OH)
Scout: 4 Star (#12 S)
247: 4 Star (93 Grade)
Need at Position: Very High
Expected Spot on 2012 Depth Chart: Significant Playing Time
Eilar Hardy Highlights (via 247SportsStudio)
Hardy was recruited as a safety and was that position's lone representative in the 2011 class.
He wasn't the highest profile recruit (likely due to his size at the safety position), but held over 20 scholarship offers from programs from the Big 10, SEC, Big East and Pac 10 (now 12).
The loss of Harrison Smith to the NFL and projected starting safeties Jamoris Slaughter and Zeke Motta departing after the 2012 season, there is no reason to think Hardy won't get a great shot at seeing the field early and often this fall.
Besides, you have to pull for a guy who has ink like this:
Next, from the state of Ohio as well, Eilar Hardy. Eilar is from Pickerington High School. Very good program. Here's a young man that, really, when you talk about the skilled position, he arguably helped his football team this year on offense as much, or more, maybe even more, as an offensive player. He's certainly somebody that can play on either side of the ball.
We see him fitting a specific need for us early on on the defensive side of the ball, but he's played cornerback. He's played a number of different positions. You'll see him at the safety position.
We really think he's a dynamic football player. And, again, good six footer. Good, long player at that position. Those are hard to find. See him at the safety position here. His ability to go and get the football here, turn it around into a score.
Again, you can see with the arrow, flat foot in the middle of the field, attacks the football. Doesn't just wait for something to happen, he goes and makes it happen.
As I said, he was very important to their run in the playoffs. Again, you can see his ability to make an impact on the offensive side of the ball and special teams.
Again, middle of the field, safety. Coming down and attacking the football. We love the way he goes and gets the ball. He's going to go make a play. He's not waiting for a play to happen. He's going to go make a play. See him coming off the edge here. Physical. Stick his nose in there. Brings all the qualities necessary for very good defensive back.
Disciplined off of a reverse. Again coming off the edge again. Getting to the quarterback here. Extremely versatile. Very good program. Again, a young man that we loved his character and the way he handled himself from the very beginning. There he is at the offensive position as well.
Hardy came into fall camp in 2011 and was starting to turn heads when a knee injury ended his season before it began. He looked as though he would make an immediate impact on special teams and perhaps even see some time at CB. The time off should be well served adding weight in addition to rehabilitating the injury.
While some might criticize his overall height (just a shade under 6'), he plays much bigger on film. He is an extremely physical presence and sure tackler close to the line of scrimmage. He has shown excellent ball skills and is one of those players that consistently seems to be right around the football on every play.
There has been plenty of debate from the OFD staff internally about where the defense is going long term, and the possible changes should play to Hardy's strengths long-term. It appears to me that the staff will be playing more hybrid S/LB (like Slaughter did late in the year) in place of the Dog LB with more half-field safety coverage over the top.
I see Hardy playing free safety long term, but that is not to say that he couldn't move to corner if needed. He should be in the mix at the nickel from day one of fall camp. Regardless, he will make an instant impact on special teams coverage and don't be surprised to see him in the two-deep coming out of camp.