Five-star prospect Mecole Hardman doesn’t have a position or a team, which makes him one of the best recruits still available.
Hardman primarily played quarterback and ran an option offense at Elbert County High School in Georgia. In the U.S. Army All-American Bowl this month, he contributed stats in rushing, receiving and special teams as a returner.
The versatility has made Hardman the No. 1-ranked athlete in the 2016 recruiting class.
As indicated in his high school highlight reel, Hardman’s greatest attribute is his speed.
Once in space, those high school defenders had absolutely no chance of catching him. As a junior in high school, Hardman recorded 1,353 total offensive yards and 13 TDs. He also had five 100-yard rushing days.
In the 40-yard dash, Hardman recorded a time of 4.32 seconds, making him one of the fastest players in the 2016 recruiting class.
SWITCH TO DEFENSE?
That speed is tremendous, but standing at just 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds, Hardman probably will not be able to routinely take the punishment that comes with being a runner at the next level. Experts project him to switch to wide receiver. But another possibility is cornerback.
“Long term, I think I’ll play corner,” Hardman told Bleacher Report. “But I think I can play corner or receiver easily at the next level. I’ve been getting extra conditioning after practice and just doing the mental stuff.”
BR National Recruiting Analyst Sanjay Kirpalani said Hardman could be a special player at either position, but it might be hard to pass up the chance to get that speed involved on offense.
“Whether it’s at corner or receiver, one word describes the game of 4-star Georgia athlete Mecole Hardman— explosive,” Kirpalani wrote last August.
“His speed jumps out immediately, but what makes him special is his competitiveness. He fought for reps and made them count when he got them. As good as he is on defense, he’s simply too electric to not have the ball in his hands at the next level.”
Being from Georgia, many considered Hardman’s college destination an afterthought. That seemed to change, though, with the departure of coach Mark Richt and defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.
Hardman did not response positively on Twitter to Richt being fired.
Georgia better not get rid of Pruitt because if they do, 😅😂
— Mecole Hardman, Jr. (@iiAm_Mesho) November 29, 2015
With Pruitt now in Alabama, many believe the Tide and Bulldogs are the two leaders in the chase to land Hardman.
NEW TWITTER COVER PHOTO
But all that changed again just a few days ago.
This week, Hardman changed his Twitter cover photo to a photoshopped picture of Ohio State QB commit Dwayne Haskins throwing him a pass. Hardman and Haskins were each wearing Buckeyes uniforms.
Immediately after his visit to Ohio State last week, Hardman also tweeted to the new Buckeyes signal caller.
@dh_simba7 Just think what gone happen next weekend can happen for 4 years 👀😎
— Mecole Hardman, Jr. (@iiAm_Mesho) January 18, 2016
These actions have led some to believe that Ohio State is the new frontrunner to land the services of the young speed demon.
But based on Hardman’s track record, it might be premature to call Ohio State the new leader. As shown in the tweets about Georgia, the Twitter cover photo and numerous other cases, Hardman seems to enjoy the recruiting process quite a bit.
“It’s been fun. I’m enjoying it all,” Hardman said according to Bleacher Report. “You just have to take your time with everything. You can’t rush it.”
Hardman’s next flair for the dramatic will be the way in which he conveys his final decision. On National Signing Day, rather than having the hats from each school on his final list, he plans to have cakes with each school’s logo on it. He will presumably eat the cake of the program he will be heading to.
Or maybe Hardman will eat the other five or six cakes, and then leave the team he will be playing for as the last cake standing? You never know with this 19 year old.
Over 30 schools recruited Hardman, but he has reportedly narrowed it down to seven teams (or cakes).
Whichever program ends up with Hardman will certainly be getting a speed demon with a bit of a melodramatic side.