Mecole Hardman was recruited as a defensive back by former UGA coordinator Jeremy Pruitt. As spring drills began and Hardman was seen practicing with the offense daily but still wearing the jersey of the defense, Coach Smart said Hardman was taking on an extra role by learning the wide receiver position:
“He’s a bright kid. You don’t want to do this with a kid that struggles to learn. Mecole doesn’t struggle to learn. He is football savvy. He’s got good football instincts – intelligence. So, he picks up on things well. He enjoys it; he likes coming in to meet extra, so you feel comfortable being able to (kinda) challenge him with more information.”
As practice progressed Mecole’s jersey changed to match the offensive colors but Coach Smart still allowed that Hardman was learning an extra position:
“He has really been working with both. He just worked today at wideout. He was going to be at wideout more, so we put him in a wideout jersey, where the last time you guys were out there he might’ve been in a black or (I don’t know what he was in) a defensive color jersey.”
“Jayson Stanley was out with a concussion. So, we were short at receiver, and we chose to give Mecole some more reps over there.”
By G-Day Smart’s tone on Hardman had changed considerably. During his postgame press conference he commented:
I would say I am encouraged. We have always thought that he can help us there. Now, with that everybody has to understand that we did not have a scholarship second corner out there. Mecole was over with the offense, and there was not a second scholarship corner playing with the second group…That’s where Mecole would be.
He made some plays; he had some flashes, he is going to continue to work. Remember now guys, Mecole was not a high school wide receiver, so how many catches do you have in high school? He was running the ball… He’s got to work on that part, but he’s a bright kid, he’s a tough kid, and he is extremely competitive. I’ll take that every time.
I like what I saw today. I mean, there are some things that we didn’t do with him today that we can do and he had a couple of plays that I thought he should’ve made but then he made a big play there at the end.
Even with the obvious change in the status of the sophomore, Kirby is not ready to say that Hardman has been moved to offense:
You know, we’ve got to have corners too…It’s going to depend a lot on the guys coming in…We’ve got four wide receivers coming in, we’ve got some DVDs coming in too. So if those guys can give us the depth that we need, we certainly think that Mecole can give us a dynamic that we need offensively.
It appears now that the staff is ready to move Hardman as long as there is adequate depth in the defensive back room and that certainly is a change from the beginning of spring practice.