Going Far Afield

Between globetrotting pursuits, lacrosse and the triple option, Cal offeree Sage Hardin is all over the place, but he took some time out to talk Cal history, a possible visit and his pass blocking with BearTerritory right after receiving his offer from the Bears.

The furthest west Sage Hardin has ever been is Texas, but the Atlanta (Ga.) Marist offensive tackle is quite a world traveler.

The latest California offeree is ancestrally linked to Scottish royalty, and visits Scotland "a ton," and visits Europe once or twice a year ("My parents absolutely love Europe," he says), though, he says, he's never made it to California.

"My ancestor was the queen of Scotland, so that's what got us interested in Scotland, and we go to this resort at Andrew Carnegie's estate," Hardin said. "We stay at his old castle, and over the years of going there, we know everyone that goes there, and we've grown a huge relationship with all the people that go there. It ranges from people from San Diego, Italy, Egypt, New York, so we always try to go during Christmas. It's an unbelievable time."

After being offered by Golden Bears offensive line coach Zach Yenser, though, it's time for this world citizen to pack his bags for the Golden State, and the cosmopolitan nature of Berkeley is a huge draw.

"Tremendously," Hardin said. "When I think about going to a college, I don't necessarily think about four years in the future; I think about 20, 30, 40 years down the road. I know for sure that having a degree from California, that would set me up with people all around the world. Living in Georgia, people told me – Georgia fans – they told me that if I go and play for Georgia, I'll be able to get a job in Georgia, wherever you want, but if I go to a school like Cal, I mean, that's one of the best degrees you can get in the country, if not the best. That could get me a job anywhere in the country, anywhere in the world."

Hardin's trip out to Berkeley, though, will have to wait until he has some free time in the spring and summer, when he's done playing lacrosse. That's right: He's a 6-foot-6, 260-pound lacrosse player.

"I'm in lacrosse right now, and with that schedule, we have a bunch of Saturday games, and I have SAT prep," Hardin said. "Honestly, I have no clue, and for spring break, I'm going to the Dominican Republic with a group of friends. That's when I was thinking about going, but we all of the sudden made plans. I would probably anticipate coming maybe for a spring practice, if I don't have a game that Friday or Saturday, and if not that, then I would probably come out some time this summer."

Before images of the hulking tackle running up and down the pitch start dancing in your heads, it may be useful to know that Hardin – while tremendously athletic – plays goalie.

"I love lacrosse," Hardin said. "It's right up there with football, for me. I think of it as football with a stick. Now, I'm a goalie, but I've been playing since fifth grade, and it's a great sport. It's growing in the South, a lot. It's an unbelievable sport, and we're going to have a very good team this year. We have a history of having a lot of overtime games in the first round of playoffs, but I fully anticipate that we'll make it to the semifinals and maybe even the championship this year. Plus, the team that we would be playing against – Westminster – is one of the best teams in the country."

Westminster has been an historic rival of Marist's, but since Marist moved to 4A classification, the two teams seldom play on the gridiron. However, it's through Westminster – where Hardin went through seventh grade – that Hardin has seen his stock soar.

"Honestly, I think how they noticed me was, one of our rival schools – Westminster High School – they have this prospect that Cal is looking at (Russell Ude), and my recruiting coordinator just happens to be one of the Westminster coaches, so when coaches go over to Westminster and look at that prospect, he showed them my highlight film, so that's how I've been getting interest from schools," Hardin said. "I think my high school coaches are the best coaches in the state of Georgia, but they just haven't been doing much of the recruiting process, so I had to get a little bit of outside help."

That outside help came in the person of Westminster defensive line coach Martin Wild.

"The guy was a family friend of ours, and we knew him indirectly through a mutual friend, and it just so happened that he's been in the business for years, so we asked him if he could represent me, and he said, ‘Yeah,' and he's been contacting a bunch of schools," Hardin said. "This past month has been unbelievable for me. I've gotten five offers: Georgia Tech, Boston College, North Carolina State, Virginia and then Cal tonight."

The offer from the Bears was more than welcome for the well-traveled Hardin, who, through his travels, has gained a vast appreciation for what Berkeley can do for him off the field.

"I'm extremely honored and I was very happy to get the offer from there," Hardin said. "Obviously, California being the No. 1 public university in the country, academics are an important aspect, so I was very happy to get the offer from them."

The images of Cal that run through Hardin's mind are those of the treasured recent past, rather than the rocky 1-11 season in 2013.

"Honestly, I didn't know too much about them. I knew that they were one of the most prestigious schools in the country," Hardin said. "I've always watched California playing football whenever they're on TV, and in the past couple of years. I've just been intrigued by them. I can remember six or seven years ago when they had Aaron Rodgers, Marshawn Lynch and DeSean Jackson.

"We didn't really talk about how much the program will improve, but even though they had a rough year, the coaching staff anticipates them having a great year. They're going to have a bunch of experience and they're returning a lot of players that will help them, tremendously."

Hardin is the latest in a string of Cal offensive line offerees from the Peach State, including Nick Polino, Kaleb Kim, Bailey Sharp and Zach Giella, and boasts a 3.57 GPA (it fluctuates, Hardin said, between that and a 3.72). Unlike the Bears, though, Marist runs a triple option, which would give most pass-heavy teams pause, save for Hardin's unique talents.

"The good thing is, what I believe and what my coaches believe, is that my skill set better suits me for a pro-style spread type of offense," Hardin said. "Over the past two or three years, I've been going to a bunch of camps and learning how to pass block. Personally, I think pass blocking is the best part of my game, and in college football, that's 60 percent of football offense, is passing, now. We pass maybe two times a game, if that, but I've been really focusing on my pass blocking."

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