RECRUITING: Hardrick says dead heat for UF, FSU

As we head down the home stretch to national signing day, Orlando Edgewater's big (6-5, 345) offensive lineman, Matt Hardrick, is torn between the Florida Gators and the Florida State Seminoles. He maintains that it's a 50/50 deal at this point in time and declined the chance to name a leader when contacted Tuesday night by Gator Country.

According to Hardrick he is still waiting to hear from new FSU offensive line coach Mark McHale, noting "He is suppose to be giving me a call tonight (Tuesday)."

Long considered an FSU lean, Hardrick has expressed a certain degree of consternation over their lack of an offensive line coach. According to Hardrick, "I haven't heard anything from them (FSU) about it."

In the meantime, the University of Florida coaching staff has been showing the highly regarded Hardrick a lot of attention. In fact, he was paid another visit earlier Tuesday by Gator co-defensive coordinator, Charlie Strong.

It's in Florida's favor that offensive line coach John Hevesy is in place and talking regularly to the All-American offensive lineman. Hardrick said, "That's a big plus for me. He's a very good coach and I get along really well with him. I enjoy being around him and the other coaches."

Hardrick admits that the possibility of being part of an offensive line that consists of the likes of Eddie Haupt, Ronnie Wilson and possibly Chris Scott is very appealing to him. Big Matt has some work to do in order to meet NCAA academic qualification standards but he is working extremely hard to insure he qualifies.

"I'm going to night school to make sure my GPA stays where it needs to be and I'm re-taking the SAT, too," he said, confidently. "I'm pretty sure I'll make it okay."

Although it is clearly a UF/FSU battle for the services of the big, four-star offensive lineman, he still plans to take his final official visit to Ole Miss this weekend. Matt Hardrick does not plan to announce a decision until national signing day.

GATOR COUNTRY TAKE: Although considered a virtual FSU lock by most recruiting analysts up to this point, it appears that the Gators have made up a ton of ground over the past couple of weeks. The current uncertainty surrounding the FSU coaching staff coupled with the attention (paid to Hardrick) and hard work of the new University of Florida staff could very well have turned the tide in the Gators favor. Don't be surprised if Matt Hardrick's L.O.I. shows up in Gainesville on National Signing Day.


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