Orlando OL One of Nation's Best

Edgewater High School in Orlando has had an excellent run over the past two seasons. Despite losing both times, they have reached the Class 6A state championship game two consecutive seasons. While players like Aaron Jones and Kenny Ingram are gone off that team, other impact guys are coming back. One of them is offensive lineman Matt Hardrick.

At 6-foot-5 and 337 pounds, Hardrick will be one of the most heavily recruited offensive linemen in the nation this season.

"The thing about kids at that age who are that big is they are often not as aggressive as you'd like to see them," said Edgewater coach Bill Gierke. "Matt really gets after it. He plays the game with a passion and his intensity is very impressive."

The talented offensive lineman had to line up against Jones every day in practice last season and even got high reviews from his former teammate, who is now headed to Florida State.

"I went out to the All-Star game in Texas where the best players in the whole nation were playing," Jones said. "There were some real good ones, guys that'll probably be playing in the NFL someday. But none of them were like Big Matt. I'm telling you, not one of them has what he has. He's huge, he's strong, and he never stops going hard. I think he was the best O-Lineman in the nation as a junior."

Hardrick may have that type of ability but he's not ready to rest on it. He's ready to go out and make an impact as a senior.

"I owe all my success so far to my O-Line coach," Hardrick said. "When I started playing in 9th grade, I didn't know anything. I was just big, about 6-3 and 310. I actually wanted to play fullback because I could touch the ball and make plays. But I've learned a lot about playing the line and I got a chance to go up against Aaron in practice last year. I got him some, he got me some. When you play against a guy like that all the time, you never see anything better on Friday nights."

Hardrick, who carries a 2.5 GPA and is still waiting on test scores to come back, talked about what he feels separates him from other players.

"A lot of guys are big and that's it," he said. "They think that just because they're big they can just push guys around. It doesn't work like that. Ask Aaron. I'm aggressive and quick. I'll come after you every single play."

Hardrick had a chance to line up against one of the state's best juniors in the state title game last year -- Carol City's Ricky Jean-Francois.

"He was real good because he was real quick and strong," he said.

The talented offensive lineman is already starting to get recruited nationally. He currently has three scholarship offers with more on the way.

"I have offers from Florida, West Virginia, and Nebraska," he said. "My coach said the O-Line coach from Miami wants to offer me real soon. It's still early though and my coach keeps telling me to focus on getting my grades in order and everything will fall into place."

Hardrick said he thinks highly of all three major Florida programs.

"I like all three of them a lot," he said. "I've been to Florida and I like what I saw up there. "Last weekend was the first time I was at Miami and I thought it was beautiful. I loved it there. I was thinking to myself, 'I can't wait till college.'"

With two former teammates headed to FSU, Hardrick talked about how that might play a role into his final decision.

"We said that if we all ended up there, we could be unstoppable," he said. "But it's my decision. I know they both liked Miami a lot too and I think I will too."

Hardrick will let the recruiting stuff take care of itself until after the season.

"I'm just focused on helping our team get back to the state title game," he said.

NOTE: Hardrick has a teammate named Antonio Turner (6-1, 220), who will be a nationally recruited fullback. I'll have an interview with him posted soon.

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