Speedy UGA target wants to see if Jacob Eason ‘can overthrow me’

Mecole Hardman, Jr. chats with UGA defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt in Athens last month. (Sonny Kennedy / Special to the AJC)

Mecole Hardman, Jr. chats with UGA defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt in Athens last month. (Sonny Kennedy / Special to the AJC)

UGA desperately wants to sign Mecole Hardman, Jr. this year.  He told the AJC on Thursday the Bulldogs and Tennessee are his co-leaders at this time.

Why do they want him in Athens? He’s extremely fast. He’s so quick that other fast guys can’t help but give him his due.

“He’s faster than me,” UGA defensive back commitment Tyrique McGhee said. “He’ll pretty much leave anybody in the dust when he gets loose.”

Hardman told the AJC he’s been hand-timed as low as 4.29 seconds in the 40-yard dash and at 4.37 seconds by laser at that distance.  So it makes sense to quickly cover a lot of ground about how his summer is going.

He’s excited about his trip this week to the star-studded “The Opening” all-star combine at Nike headquarters in Oregon. The 5-foot-11, 175-pounder hopes to kick the tires on UGA commitment Jacob Eason to see what the strong-armed quarterback is all about. They aren’t on the same team, but Eason was one of several top players he hoped to see in person.

“I’ve never played with Jacob before,” Hardman, Jr. said. “I don’t think he can overthrow me. I don’t know what he will have to do to overthrow me because I can go get it now. I’d have to see that. I’ve never played with a quarterback that can really overthrow me.”

The Elbert County standout will be at UGA’s elite “Dawg Night” camp on July 18 in Athens and will relish that opportunity.

Mecole Hardman will be at Dawg Night on July 18. (Michael Carvell / AJC)

Mecole Hardman will be at Dawg Night on July 18. (Michael Carvell / AJC)

“I’m working out, man,” Hardman, Jr. said. “I can’t look at guys getting better and not want the same for myself. I don’t really care about rankings or how many offers I have because at one point I’ll be in college and none of that will matter anymore.”

The aspiring sports broadcaster said Alabama, Auburn, UGA, Miami and Tennessee are recruiting him the hardest at this, time. Don’t rule out the Hurricanes. That was his “dream school” growing up. If he could meet any player alive, he said his choice would be former Miami great Devin Hester.

Miami will get one of his official visits, he said. He said the tightest relationships he has among the coaches which are recruiting him are with Miami receivers coach Kevin Beard and UGA defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.

Wisconsin was his first offer, but that came from current UGA running backs coach Thomas Brown when he was coaching at the Big Ten school. The UGA sales pitch is to come win a national championship in his home state.

He also wants to go to Alabama, Florida, Florida State and Ole Miss this summer. His only trips this summer so far have been to Auburn and UGA. He also plans to get back up to Tennessee this month.

The rising senior will announce his college choice on National Signing Day, but make a silent commitment before that to a school he hopes will keep it a secret. Hardman said he will trim his list to 10 schools this month, but UGA and Tennessee will obviously make the cut.

The four-star prospect is rated among the Top 5 athletes in the country. Will he play cornerback or at receiver in college? That’s a great question.

He recently spent the day at Auburn with Gus Malzahn. Malzahn said he would play both sides of the ball at Auburn. The head coach of the Tigers applied the man-to-man recruiting coverage for about four hours. Hardman told the AJC the Tigers are now his No. 3 school.

“It was a great time hanging with the head man,” he said. “You can’t ask for more than that. It was a big day for me at Auburn. We just chilled all day.”

He’s more confident at defensive back right now, but has more fun playing receiver. An elite defensive back will play a lonely game as teams shy away from his side. A big-time receiver gets fed the ball. He already knows that.

“I want to be everything,” Hardman, Jr. said. “I don’t know what I am. Different schools want me at different positions. It will be interesting when I get to college and see where the college I choose puts me at. Personally, I don’t know whether I’m a DB or a receiver.”

The most fun he had this summer was when he hopped into a buddy’s truck. They drove about an hour away from his hometown of Elberton to a rock quarry.

“That was fun,” Hardman said. “I saw how people leave stuff back there like tractors and machinery. Then you get on top of these big ol’ rocks and look down at the water in the bottom of the quarry and it was like crazy. You get to go to the bottom of it. It was like old antique stuff (vehicles and equipment) down there (around the water) and when you were at the bottom of it, there’s more to see. It was a lot of fun. We were there and stayed there for a good maybe two hours. I had fun that day, man. I had a ball.”

Jeff Sentell covers UGA recruiting for AJC.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play Between the Hedges.

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