During our sit down, Dave Harding shared how assistant coach Jim Collins originally recruited him to Duke during the Roof era. He said he visited once during a Wake Forest game and at the time felt that he would never come to Durham to play for Duke.
Then, the coaching change happened.
Afterwards, Collins and former high school teammate, Kyle Hill, expressed to Harding how the program was completely different under Cutcliffe and that he should give it another look. The rest, as they say, is history.
Cutcliffe won Harding and his parents over with Duke's commitment to him as a student, a person, and as a player. One of the strongest selling points that Coach Cut made was when he told him, "how about coming to a place where you can be one of the greats - where you can be one of the people that started the program, as opposed to going to Florida State and being just another player."
According to Harding, there is truly a family atmosphere at Duke. Everyone recruits you and shows a genuine interest in your well being as a person, as a student, and as a football player.
Dave said that he has always loved the media side of sports and loved news in general. He even did the news for his elementary school and middle school, sometimes playing "the news" with his sister, who would end up in journalism too. His first thoughts of a major upon arriving at Duke was maybe politics, but his mom suggested broadcast journalism because he loved talking with people and building relationships.
His girlfriend was reading Jay Bilas's book, Toughness. She would say to him, "Dave, I keep reading this and thinking about you. Seeing connections, like Jay came here when Duke basketball wasn't much of anything and helped build the program." She would make that connection to what Dave was helping build with the football program.
Dave became more and more interested in broadcast journalism. Ultimately he let Art Chase, Duke's Sports Information Director, know of his interests. Accordingly, Chase provided opportunities starting in his redshirt junior year to be involved with the television production meetings on Fridays. There he would be exposed to personalities like Rece Davis and Kirk Herbstreit and even Brent Musberger. Dave said, "Art would constantly put me in that position to get as much experience as I could."
Dave believes that his experience as being the one interviewed will help him as he transitions to the other side of the mic to interview other student athletes.
"I know what its like to be a student athlete being interviewed. I think I have an advantage. Playing the sport helps. Knowing the questions to ask and how to ask them - having been exposed to all of that helps."
Another perspective that he thinks he adds is being a Duke football guy in the media.
"There's no Duke football (media). Especially offensive lineman are few and far between as well. In sports broadcasting we have Jeff Saturday and Mark May. Its mostly skill guys so it would be nice to get more guys that are in the trenches."
He has had the experience of helping with a signing day show where he conducted an interview or two. He also had the chance to work with the Spring Football game through ESPN3.
When asked if he would consider doing radio he said, "Yes. I've had lunch with Bob Harris. I would do radio, thats how Kirk Herbstreit got his start. Jay Bilas got his start with Bob Harris."
As far as what is next for Dave Harding, graduation is first on the horizon. Then, "Honestly what I would love to see happen is find a role with Duke over the summer and fall, or locally. Ideally with Duke because I'm familiar with it. Do that as much as I can. Maybe move to Charlotte to work with ESPNU or Raycom Sports or the ACC Network. Get plugged in regionally." Ultimately no job is too small to get his foot in the door, according to Harding.
At the conclusion of our interview, I asked Dave some quick response questions to give us more insight into who he is.
Beach or Mountains: Beach
BBQ Style: Sweet style
Favorite Movie: Sports Movies, Rom Coms (remember I have two younger sisters)
Favorite Duke Tradition: I love the Victory Bell. Having that around the Yoh.
Favorite Spot on Campus: Sitting alone in Wallace Wade to think. On Quad in front of the Chapel
Toughest ACC Opponent to Block: Aaron Donald, any FSU DL. Tougher than that was Luke Keuchley - Most tenacious player he has ever seen.
Sweeter Win: UNC 2012 or 2013 - 2012 doing that in front of a packed house in the style we won.
Most Improved on Duke OL: Takoby Cofield
Favorite Cut Saying or Speech that sticks out: Halftime against Miami - He said "Guys, enjoy this. This is why you play. I wouldn't want the score to be anything else. Don't wish away the second half. Play and enjoy the process!" That can be applied to any area of your life.
Predict the Record (handed a schedule): Went through all games and mentioned some challenges. "There aren't many ACC teams that once we beat them we usually don't lose to them the next year." "I'm going to say they go undefeated. There is not a game on the schedule that we should not win. If they take it week by week there is not a game that they can't win, including December 6th."
Yes, Dave. That's the ACC Championship Game.
Dave Harding helped lay the foundation and served as a "founding father" for this era of the Duke football program under Coach Cutcliffe. The program has turned a corner. Dave will be successful, whether in media or elsewhere. He has the work ethic and, most importantly, the character and desire to make it happen.
Follow Daniel on Twitter: @Thebluecharger
Graduate of Asbury University (undergrad) and UNCG (graduate) with Bachelor and Master Degrees in Music Education. Choral director and lifelong Duke fan.