SPRINGDALE – For whatever reason, the state of Arkansas does not produce very many true middle linebackers lately and conversely it is a spot that the Razorback program has not flourished traditionally.
While current Arkansas sophomore Brooks Ellis of Fayetteville certainly looks poised to have a breakout season in 2014, Fort Smith Northside junior Deontre Hardwick (6-2, 230) certainly appears like the next in-state gem.
Hardwick, who had a team-leading 82 tackles last season, and the Grizzlies participate in this weekend's Southwest Elite 7-on-7 Showcase and Shiloh Christian and he noted that he had the mentality to play the spot.
“I am a middle linebacker and I love playing the spot,” Hardwick said. “You have to be a head-hunter and that's what I am. You have got to play aggressive and you have to be willing to stick your head in there in any situation and make the play.
“This year I have been working on getting bigger, getting to the ball faster and playing even more aggressive than I did last year,” Hardwick added.
Arkansas State has already offered Hartwick while Arkansas loves him, but wants to see him put more time and effort into his academics before putting an offer on the table.
“I have got to get my grades right first before they are going to offer,” Hardwick said. “I really like it up there. I like the atmosphere, the people, the coaches are cool and just really like.”
He plans to be on hand for the Arkansas Elite Camp July 24 in Fayetteville.
“I will be up there,” Hardwick said. “I am planning on showing them that I can play ball – that I can ball out and sell out for anybody on my team.”
Northside head coach Mike Falleur believes he has a great football player that is growing both on and off the field.
“Deontre is a great player, but he has just got to learn to fine tune his game a little bit and be a little more under control,” Falleur said. “He has got to learn to do all the other things that you have got to do – do your classwork, just all the little things. He is getting there. He is growing up.”
Fort Smith Northside defensive lineman Daytrieon Dean (6-3, 263) is a Razorback 2015 commit who teams with Hardwick on defense in high school to form a formidable duo.
“He's a humble person and I like him a lot,” Hardwick said. “He is like my big brother. We work out together. Everybody knows that 98 (Dean) and 8 (Hardwick) both get after it. There are no plays off.”
The Grizzlies will return to playing in the Class 7A West Conference this season after spending the last couple of years in the 7A Central.
“I know a couple of guys up here on those teams and I know playing in this conference is going to make me better and it is going to make Daytrieon better,” Hardwick said.
Deontre Hardwick (8) makes a tackle during the 2013 season.
Hardwick Loves Manning The Middle
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