Hardrick Bounces Back, Will Begin at Guard

Late last month, offensive lineman Matt Hardrick enrolled at Florida State University after an up-hill climb following his days as a prep star at Edgewater High School. Struggling in his first day as a member of the Garnet and Gold, Hardrick has battled back quickly and just may prove to be one of the most important pieces to a revamped Seminole offensive line.

For Florida State freshman offensive lineman Matt Hardrick, the road to Tallahassee was not an easy one.

And now that he has finally made it, it's not getting an easier.

Originally signed to FSU's impressive class of 2005, the Orlando native had to enroll at Hargrave Military Academy in hopes of earning the necessary grades needed to become a Seminole student-athlete. Well, the former Edgewater High School standout did and was officially welcomed to the Garnet and Gold in June.

And if you think the conclusion to the journey that took him from Central Florida to Virginia then back to Florida was a relief, just look at the smile he displays when talking about it.

"The first day I walked in that door (of the dorms) I just thought to myself, ‘I am finally here,'" Hardrick said. "After going through so much and working so hard to get here it was just a big relief. I am real grateful to be a Seminole."

But for as great as the immediate feeling of realizing a childhood dream was, the reality and the difficulty that is being a Division I athlete was felt equally. And at the first day of organized workouts with his teammates, Hardrick took a small step back.

Battling with the Tallahassee heat and the intense drills set forth by the FSU strength and conditioning program, the newest Seminole offensive lineman was unable to finish the day's tasks.

And Hardrick knew right then and there just what he had to do.

"I really felt I had to push myself harder than everyone else after my first day," Hardrick said. "The first practice I was out here I really struggled in the heat. I just knew after that that I had t pick myself up and show my teammates that I can do it. Show them I can get through all the drills out here.

"It has motivated me to work that much harder every day."

And it showed in the days following practice No. 1 as Hardrick was visibly improved before the break for the Fourth of July. His ability to bounce back shows a desire – a desire that FSU coaches hope will lead to a slightly trimmer player in time for the Hurricanes in September.

"Right now I am at about 350 and the coaches want me down 20 pounds to 330," Hardrick said last week. "I am going to keep working hard to get to that weight so I am ready to play Miami."

With his massive 6-foot-4 1/2 frame, Hardrick adds another dimension to a Seminole offensive line in revamp-mode. If he can continue to improve day by day, FSU fans just may see a new face take the field in South Florida.

"They want me at guard this year because we are one short at guard," Hardrick said. "Hopefully I will get my chance this year to get into the games and help out at guard. Next year I will be at tackle. Either way though it's good because I will be able to learn both positions which will not only help me with reading defenses but also being able to help this team in different ways.

"Having that experience will only help make me and my teammates better."

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