Kirby Smart shook his head and laughed when asked about Mecole Hardman’s appearing at practice on Tuesday in the red jersey of an offensive player. Hardman, of course, is the multi-talented sophomore athlete from Elbert County who was a star quarterback in high school but has been primarily a defensive back at UGA. Hardman did play defensive back in high school and was recruited by defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.
“You know, this whole Mecole fascination is just…”
“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.”
Let see if we understand, coach. In a program that is rigidly structured with every detail as carefully planned as yours, a key skill player switches from a defensive unit jersey to offensive colors when he has previously done the same dual threat practicing without changing jersey – and he is working at a position of need – and he is dynamic athlete with the ball in his hands – and your offense was average, at best, last year – you are puzzled by the fascination? I’m not.
What does Hardman’s high school coach think about his star pupil? Would he be a valuable addition to Georgia’s offense? Brandon Sudge (Macon Telegraph) got the following quote from Sid Fritts:
“I think so,” said Sid Fritts, who was Elbert County’s head coach throughout Hardman’s four-year tenure. “I just think he’s a guy that understands — I know it’s a lot faster in the SEC — but he can make plays, even at that level.”
Fritts said he saw Hardman practicing exclusively on offense last week while on campus, and a person with knowledge of the situation said that it continued Saturday when reporters were not allowed to watch practice. Hardman was once again seen in a red offensive practice jersey Tuesday.
Georgia is in search of a slot receiver after the departure of Isaiah McKenzie. Hardman fits the mold at 5-foot-11 and183 pounds and could be a viable option at the position.
Fritts gave the comparison between Hardman and McKenzie while indicating it is a significant void to fill. Nevertheless, he believes they have resembling skill sets.
“(Hardman) was so dynamic with the ball, and he touched it all the time at quarterback,” Fritts said. “He can hurt you once he gets into space and has a knack for allowing it to set up. He’s special.”
The Kirby Smart quotes above start at the 2-minute mark in the video below.