Bloomington, Ind. – James Hardy is aiming high and hoping to wind up among the stars.
The Hoosiers' leading receiver in each of the past two seasons, Hardy has big plans for his junior season and even bigger dreams for his football future. His immediate target is the 2007 season, one that holds plenty of promise for an IU team that came within one win of earning a bowl invitation a year ago.
"I go into (the off-season) with the same mindset, work hard every day, give 100 percent in the weight room, on and off the field," Hardy said.
Hardy returns after catching 51 passes for 722 yards and 10 touchdowns despite missing two games following an early-season suspension. His two-year totals of 112 receptions, 1,615 yards and 20 touchdowns, meanwhile, have positioned to make runs at the school records in all three categories this fall.
While that would put him in elite company in IU annals, the 6'7", 220-pound junior has set his sites even higher. In fact, he's focused his attention squarely on the best the college game had to offer a year ago – Georgia Tech's Calvin Johnson.
"I've been watching (film) of Calvin Johnson all spring," Hardy said after Saturday's Cream and Crimson game. "When I leave practice and go and study him and see what he does."
What the 6'4", 225-pound Johnson did at Georgia Tech was earn back-to-back All-America honors in 2005 and 2006. He caught 76 passes for 1,202 yards and 15 touchdowns last fall, helping the Yellow Jackets to a New Year's Day bowl appearance.
Johnson is a rarity, combining a huge frame with electric speed, making him arguably the premier player in the upcoming NFL draft – and undoubtedly the top wideout. He's expected to be among the top five players selected.
Johnson's skills have drawn comparisons to Michael Irvin and Terrell Owens, among others, and he's clearly one of the best wide receivers to come along in some time. With that in mind, Hardy has spent plenty of time eyeing the soon-to-be NFL millionaire to see what he does that makes him so special.
"I like to see players that are better than me and see what they have that I don't and try to put it into my game," Hardy said.
Hardy already has plenty in his repertoire. He has the sort of size that gives him a huge size advantage over any cornerback he's matched up against. He also has excellent hands, the sort that has enabled him to come up with a potpourri of acrobatic catches during his IU career.
But Hardy wants more for the upcoming season as well as his football future. And that's why he's studying up on the college game's best.
"He's the No. 1 receiver," Hardy said of Johnson. "That's my goal and where I'm trying to be. Anyone else is really irrelevant."
Hardy Focused on Being the Best
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