Texas RB is the Complete Student-Athlete

In a perfect college football world, the emphasis placed on academics and athletics would be equally weighted. The most common excuse given for not striving to meet the best of both standards is the perceived trade-off. That somehow, being a solid student and being a good football player is mutually exclusive. There is no question that short cuts can be taken in any endeavor with the absence of selectivity. Sadly, many college coaching staffs have chosen to lower their expectations.

A noticeable difference with Dennis Franchione and his staff is their commitment to make both sides of the hyphen important in their search for prospective student-athletes. The "total person" concept is not a new philosophy but rather a "tried and true" method of raising the probability of creating a championship environment.

Work ethic, discipline, and many other traits commonly found among winners can be summed up in one word---character. Peer pressure can be set during the selection process of any team or organization. Find those prospects with a proven track record of competitiveness and hard work in both arenas, and the overall mindset of the team becomes one of high character and self-motivation.

One such student-athlete is Albert Hardy, a 5-foot-11, 217 pound running back from Galena Park, Texas. In the classroom, Hardy maintains a 3.1 GPA in his core classes and he has already met the standardized test requirement.

"Albert is self-motivated and he's qualified," said Galena Park High School Head Coach Mike Coker. "He did not miss a single workout this summer. Albert is a polite young man and he's a leader, too."

On the football field, Hardy led the Houston area in rushing for all classifications as a junior. He rushed for 1,855 yards and 18 touchdowns on 285 attempts during the regular season. Eight of his touchdowns were from 50 yards or longer. Additionally, Hardy added 10 receptions for 103 yards through the air. His efforts earned him such awards as the Most Valuable Player in his district and First Team All-State.

"Albert can run inside with power or take it outside and outrun you," said Coach Coker. "He can break tackles and catch the football. Right now, Albert has 41 scholarship offers."

Among those teams are Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana State, Michigan, and Texas. So, what are the chances the Crimson Tide could land the signature of Hardy? Unfortunately, the answer to the question may not have anything to do with the current coaching staff.

"Albert had Alabama in his original top five but the NCAA situation has placed them on hold for now," said Coach Coker. "We appreciate the honesty of Coach (Jim Bob) Helduser and Alabama. Being honest is important to us and we feel like they have done that."

Hardy's words echo the status of the Crimson Tide at this point in the recruiting process.

"Alabama would definitely be in my top ten if not for the NCAA situation," Hardy said. "I'm concerned about the penalties but they will move way up my list if that situation clears up."

Hardy will seek the advice of his coaches and parents to reach his decision. Not surprisingly, he has set the criteria he will use as a guideline.

"I'm looking for a winning team with a good offensive line," said Hardy. "I will also be looking at the coaching staff and the recruiting class coming in with me."

Being an asset to a program doesn't always materialize on the football field. There is a strong probability that Hardy will have success on the football field but he will be a contributor whether or not he ever cracks the depth chart. After all, how can a guy with Hardy's attitude about football not be infectious to the rest of his teammates?

"Football is the best game ever created," said Hardy.

Editor's Note: Signing an elite prospect such as Albert Hardy is always an uphill climb and the task for Alabama is even steeper due to the NCAA investigation. However, some clarfication needed for Hardy's decision should come before Signing Day.

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