Graphic courtesy of Penn State Athletics
Times Shamrock newspapers’ Penn State football beat writer Donnie Collins is breaking down every member of Penn State’s 2019 recruiting class who has signed their letter of intent. This is a look at cornerback Daequan Hardy, who is ranked as the No. 26 overall prospect in Pennsylvania by ESPN.
School: Penn Hills HS
Projected position: Cornerback
Ranking: Three stars by 247sports.com and ESPN. Two stars by Rivals.com
Other offers: Akron, Army, Ball State, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Kent State, Michigan, Michigan State, Navy, Nebraska, Toledo.
Enrolling: Summer semester
Strengths: Hardy has been one of the better playmakers on both sides of the ball in the WPIAL, and that’s saying something. … He has run a 4.5 40-yard dash, which speaks to his speed. But what separates him is his elite change-of-direction skills, in combination with his ability to accelerate to top speed quickly. … As a receiver, he can locate the ball in the air, adjust and make a play on a poorly thrown pass, a skill that translates to the defensive side of the ball. … He plays absolutely without fear. He’ll bring a big hit, and he gets in the mix against the run, too. … Looks like he can play on an island or in the zone equally as well because of his instincts. … There’s potential with Hardy to be an effective kickoff and punt return man.
The questions: If Hardy was merely an undersized prospect, he’d have twice the scholarship offers he wound up getting. But he’s small, at 160 pounds. And that might be a generous listing. He looks slight. … He’ll need to add between 20-30 pounds to be the kind of player who can push for a starting job on a Big Ten defense. … With that size, he’d also need to become much more aggressive at the line with bigger receivers at the college level. He can get by with his speed and ball skills in high school, but he’ll need to be a more complete defender in big-time college ball.
Projection: Hardy is absolutely a boom or bust type of add to the 2019 class, and the fact he received a scholarship offer as late as he did last weekend speaks to that. But he’s a good gamble. He has speed. He is tough. He plays hard. He’s a winner who comes from a winning program. And, he has a chance to compete for playing time in all three phases of the game. Certainly, Penn State will look to start him out on defense and hope he can add the size to that speed and tenacity to help him become a pretty good all-around cornerback down the road. But he’ll certainly redshirt in 2019 and would do very well coming in at 160 pounds to compete for time as the slot corner in a few seasons.