After getting his first taste of splitting time between college football and college basketball, redshirt freshman James Hardy is 30 pounds heavier, one year wiser and ready to make a difference on the gridiron.
Coming off a freshman year where he was redshirted in football and averaged 10 minutes a game in basketball, James Hardy is ready to make his mark on the Indiana football program. Hardy spent his shortened off-season in the weight room, going from 185 during basketball season to a noticeably larger 215 at the start football camp.
"I'm in a great situation," said Hardy, who has been working with the No. 1 offense along with Jahkeen Gilmore and Marcus Thigpen. "I stayed here and worked in the summer with Marcus Thigpen, James Bailey, Jahkeen Gilmore and the quarterbacks. We hit the weight room hard just to get ready for the year. It's been a great summer, but it's going to be even better when we get the season started."
Hardy had to watch from afar during games last season, but there are no regrets from the 6-7 receiver.
"I felt that redshirting was the best thing for me," said Hardy, who played just two seasons of football at Ft. Wayne's Elmhurst H.S. "When I talked with Marcus (Thigpen), we both felt the same way and we went through it at the same time. It gave us a chance to work out, get acquainted with everybody and now it's our turn to step up."
His status with the No.1 unit suggests Hardy has earned his chance to step up. With less than three weeks left until the Sept. 2 matchup with Central Michigan that may be a good sign for the redshirt freshman, but the competition between the 14 receivers on the roster should continue all season.
"It's still friendly," said Hardy of the competition. "We still love each other and care about each other, but we all know we're fighting for positions. We need to come out here and showcase our abilities and may the best man win.
"The spread is a great offense. We have the receivers to run it who can go out and get the ball and now we have the offense that everybody can get their share."
With his new 215-pound frame, Hardy feels he should be able to have strong seasons in both football and basketball. Wide receivers coach Billy Lynch said the added weight will be a tremendous asset on the football field.
"Sometimes when you're that tall and you're too lean, you're a big target for a cornerback, whether it's a press corner getting his hands on you," said Lynch. "Now, he's put on that weight and he's developed a physical dimension to him. He's a football player now. Instead of being a tall athlete who had some skills, now he looks the part."
Don't expect Hardy to take the weight off when it comes time for basketball, either.
"I don't have to slim down for basketball this time," said Hardy. "With my training I'm still at the same speed I was 30 pounds ago, maybe even faster. There's no weight adjustment going from one sport to another. I needed to put on weight for both sports and now that I did that, I think I'm ready to make my mark in both."
One of the reasons for Hardy's enthusiasm comes straight from the top. Under new coach Terry Hoeppner, Hardy looks to be making his mark on the team and Lynch has Hardy's endorsement.
"Coach Hoeppner is a great coach," said Hardy. "He has everybody excited around here. It's better when you have a coach like that. It makes you eager to come to practice so you can come out here and have fun. When it's not fun, you just go through the motions. But we're all excited out here and it makes you work harder when you see your leader showing as much enthusiasm as Coach Hep is.
"Coach Lynch seems excited out there, but he really gets on us when we do something wrong. Having a wide receiver coach that's not that much older than us is a good thing because he knows what we're going through on and off the field. He knows when our legs are getting tired because he went through it just a couple of years ago."
Hardy has one plan for this season and it has nothing to do with his own stats or glory. Instead he simply said, "I'm here to do whatever Coach Hep wants me to do."
Bigger Hardy Is Definitely Better
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