The Georgia Bulldogs football team certainly had an up-and-down season in 2016. A major reason for Georgia’s inconsistency, in my opinion, was that they had a pretty young team. A lot of freshmen saw the field last season for the Bulldogs including notable names like starting quarterback Jacob Eason, starting tight end Isaac Nauta, arguably UGA’s most complete wide receiver in Riley Ridley, defensive end David Marshall and many more.
While Georgia, overall, had to be happy for the nice contribution from its freshman class last season, one guy that was highly rated and expected to be one of the biggest impact freshman was a disappointment. I am talking about Mecole Hardman.
Hardman was rated as a 5-star athlete (according to the 247Sports Composite Rankings) out of Elberton, Ga. He was also named the number one athlete in the country for the class of 2016 and the number two ranked prospect in the state of Georgia.
I saw Hardman one time in high school. It was actually his last high school game against Calhoun in the 2015 GHSA Playoffs. Hardman was absolutely dynamic in that game and took his team on his back and single-handedly almost upended a very good Calhoun team.
I came away super impressed with Hardman. He remains the most impressive high school prospect I have ever seen in person besides 2018 quarterback and Clemson commit Trevor Lawrence. Hardman is easily the most electric guy I have ever witnessed in person on the high school level.
That was one of the reasons I was so surprised that he did not make more of an impact at Georgia in his first year. However, Hardman did have to adjust to play a position at corner, which he was not very experienced playing at. Hardman did see limited action at times last season but was not very effective.
With all the star power coming in the class of 2017, Hardman can be easily forgotten. Be wary; do not dismiss Hardman. The dude is a guy that Georgia cannot afford to waste. UGA signed seven defensive backs in the class of 2017, who are all looking to make an early impact. Combine that with the fact that Isaiah McKenzie a.k.a. the Bulldogs’ main explosive threat on offense has departed for the NFL Draft and the Hardman cornerback experiment has not worked out as planned, and I believe that Hardman should be switched to wide receiver immediately.
Hardman has incredible speed and athleticism and would be a dangerous player in the slot. (He is also a great returner, so there is another similarity to McKenzie.) Hardman is too good to not be unleashed as a starter. At the very least he should be given significant playing time. A bunch of people want the young man to a chance at receiver. I agree and think that he is much more dangerous with the ball in his hands.
Will this happen? I really do not know, but I think there is a pretty good chance Hardman will get a serious look on offense both in the spring and moving forward. That is another reason spring practice will be so important for UGA. Hopefully, head coach Kirby Smart takes my advice and switches Hardman to reciever. He will not regret it.