Tuesday, March 18, 2008

NFL Draft Spotlight on - James Hardy of Indiana

Today's NFL Draft Spotlight is on Indiana wide receiver James Hardy....he is listed at 6'7", 220 lbs....last season, Hardy caught 79 passes for 1,125 yards and 16 touchdowns....he scored 36 touchdowns in his 3 years at IU....

Terry Hutchens of the Indianapolis Star was kind enough to take some time from his busy schedule of covering the Big Ten basketball tournament to respond...it is appreciated...

Q1. In most publications, James Hardy is listed as one of the top 10 receivers in this year's NFL draft. Many novice fans were not aware of Hardy's talents until now. Why was he so overlooked during the football season?
A. Bottom line is that Hardy played at Indiana, and with relatively few national television opportunties, a player can easily get lost at a school like Indiana. Hardy put up big numbers at Indiana. I think the biggest is that he had 36 touchdown catches in 32 regular season games. That's pretty impressive. He also averaged more than 60 catches a season for his three years of college football and nearly 900 yards per season. But when you're playing in a conference like the Big Ten, you just know that the guys at Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State and places like that are going to get a lot more notoriety that a player who plays at IU. It's just the way it is.

Q2. What type of person is James Hardy off the field?
A. I think coming into college, Hardy had some character issues and he had one off-the-field incident involving his girlfriend in May of 2006 as well. But with the help of late IU football coach Terry Hoeppner, who was clearly a father figure to Hardy, this young man just really grew up in front of people's eyes. To see his maturity level and to hear him speak throughout his senior season, he just seemed like a different kid. I think in a few years time, Hardy went from a questionable character kid to a high character individual.

Q3. What current NFL player is Hardy comparable to?
A. People mention Plaxico Burress but it's hard to compare him. He has great size and that will always be the thing that stands out about Hardy.

Q4. What are Hardy's strengths and weaknesses?
A. Hardy has excellent hands and is capable of making the acrobatic play. His size (he's 6-7) also is a strength and he knows how to use his body to his advantage. He doesn't have burner speed and that may cause him to slip a little bit on a few NFL draft boards. But I think there's a lot of potential upside with Hardy.

This is a kid who came to Indiana on a football scholarship but was second in the voting from Mr. Basketball in the state of Indiana and came to IU with the intention of playing both. But basketball was always his primary love and most thought he would play football a year or two and then just concentrate on hoops. But he had some good early football success and then everything changed. But he really has only been playing organized football for less than five years and a lot of people see him as just coming into his own in terms of the things he can do on the football field.

Q5. Who are some of the future NFL prospects that we should pay attention to on the 2008 IU team?
A. Kellen Lewis, a dual threat quarterback, is someone to keep an eye on. He's a redshirt junior but people have made comparisons to Antwaan Randle El in terms of Lewis's game. Marcus Thigpen is a tailback with 4.29 speed. He could play at the next level as a kick returner possibly. Greg Middleton is a junior who had 16 quarterback sacks as a sophomore and is clearly someone to keep an eye on.

Once again, I would like to thank Terry for his time...

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