Repping The Red, White and Blue

Arkansas commitment and Edmond (OK) Santa Fe safety Khari Harding (6-1, 205) is excited about playing for the USA squad that will begin its tournament schedule Saturday night in the International Federation of American Football Under-19 World Championship.

Arkansas grid commit Khari Harding will get the chance to go Red, White and Blue on some other countries beginning Saturday.

Harding (6-1, 205) is one of 45 players on the USA roster for the 2012 International Federation of American Football Under-19 World Championship being held in Austin, Texas.

The USA team opens the eight-team tournament with an 8 p.m. with a game against American Samoa at Burger Stadium, a high school venue that seats 15,000.

"I am very excited to be a part of the USA team and honored that they would think I was one of the 45 players in the country that deserved to be there," Harding said. "I can't wait to get going and win this thing."

He committed to the Razorbacks on June 8th and is one of nine pledges that Arkansas has so far in its 2013 recruiting class.

Harding – who had 71 tackles and three interceptions as a junior - also had offers from Kansas State, Oregon State, Wyoming, Houston, Memphis, Indiana, Iowa State and Arkansas State.

"I was just riding around with my dad and told him that I was ready to commit and sure I wanted to go to Arkansas," Harding said. "I just knew that I wanted to be a Razorback and I am very excited about it."

Harding – whose dad and uncle played at Oklahoma State - said there were several factors that led to him going ahead and committing to Arkansas.

"Arkansas has a great football program, a powerhouse program and I don't think that is going to change any time soon," Harding said. "It's close to home and I just really love the coaches and how they care about you on and off the field. They also have great facilities and are even getting more so there won't be any better in the country than what they have."

Harding said that the Razorbacks coaches were real pleased that he decided to make an early commitment.

He talked to Arkansas assistant coach Kris Cincovich – his lead recruiter – along with Razorback head coach John L. Smith and defensive coordinator Paul Haynes.

"Yes, they were all very excited when I told them, and they said they were going to celebrate," Harding said. "I just didn't see any reason to wait when I knew that was where I wanted to be. They told me they appreciated me getting on board early and want me to get out there and help them recruit the rest of the class."

The other teams in the week-long event are France, Japan, Panama, Austria, Canada and Sweden and all are competing to be in the gold medal game on Saturday, July 7th.

"It's going to be very interesting to see how good these other teams are," Harding said. "We are going into this thing to win it. We are putting in the time and effort to do so."

Harding is listed as a linebacker on the USA roster.

"It is kind if a hybrid position in that I come up as a linebacker sometimes and I also play back," Harding said. "The big thing is it is a position that allows me to make plays and that's obviously something I really enjoy.

"I feel like I have good coverage skills and you know I love to hit so this position fits me very well," Harding added. "I want to keep working on my footwork, but I am working hard." After going just 1-9 in Harding's sophomore season, Edmond had a dramatic turnaround and went 10-2 last season.

The next step is to compete for a state title according to Harding.

"We went to a team camp recently and really looked good," Harding said. "We have some great players and a great work ethic and I think that is really going to be a plus for us, just as it was in turning things around last season. I think we can win it all this season."

Arkansas commitment Khari Harding (25) and Ike McDonald (18) talk with USA linebacker coach Cory Moore in practice earlier this week.

Hawgs Daily Top Stories