Mentally and physically, 2015 Atlanta (Ga.) Marist three-star offensive tackle Sage Hardin dealt with and overcame a lot during his junior season.
Through it all, and with a few setbacks on the injury front, Hardin believes he’s a better player for it.
“I would say my toughness really increased in my junior year,” Hardin said. “Unfortunately I had a couple injuries so I was sidelined the first four or five weeks of the season.
“When I did play, I had a high ankle sprain from earlier in the year so the first one or two games back were my worst cause it was really difficult. Eventually it got better by the third game and I was very happy with the way I played this season.
“I really transformed as an individual. I feel like I’ve leaned down and become a much more powerful player.”
Now standing 6-foot-6, 260-pounds, Hardin spent his spring on the lacrosse field, impressing college football coaches with his versatility and agility with his massive frame.
“Lacrosse just helps tremendously with my athleticism, footwork and hand/eye coordination,” Hardin said. “And it’s right up there with football as my favorite sport.”
“Coach Funk came by a couple weeks ago,” Hardin said. “He came and watched a lacrosse practice. Unfortunately there was not much field space because literally every single game or event that could’ve gone on that day went on so we didn’t really practice and he didn’t really see much.
“But, he was really interested; he really liked me a lot and he said he wants me to come up to camp and potentially get an offer.”
Michigan’s football camp in the middle of June could be a great opportunity for Hardin to earn an offer from the Wolverines, believing it could happen based on his conversations with offensive line coach Darrell Funk.
“He said if I come up to camp there’s a very high chance I could get an offer and he says I’m a guy that would fit in the system very well and they’re very interested in me,” he said. “I think he’s a great guy from what I’ve talked to him about at this point.”
“That’s another thing, they put a lot of offensive linemen in the NFL,” Hardin said. “They’re one of the most historic, if not the most historic program in college football with the largest football stadium in the United States.
“They have very good academics and I know Ann Arbor is a beautiful area. I’m not too familiar with the school I just always grew up watching Michigan football and I’m fairly familiar with it.”
Hardin, looking to major in business or economics at the next level, will know soon whether or not he’ll make the trip up to Ann Arbor for camp.
“I haven’t talked to my recruiting coordinator yet, I was going to sit down with him in the next couple days once exams wrap up, just to talk about my summer schedule,” he said.
Hardin says he is planning visits to Georgia, Stanford and Ole Miss in hopes of earning offers from all three this summer as well.
As far as timeline is concerned, Hardin has an idea of when he’d like to make a decision but added the plan isn’t concrete.
“I think my final camp, from the looks of it, of the camps I might go to, the final one is late June so that’s when I’ll probably announce my top five or so,” Hardin said. “My original plan was to commit on August 1 or July 29, right before we go to camp.
“I don’t know, there’s a lot more schools that have gotten into the mix the last few weeks and I want to make the most informed decision as possible and if there’s some schools I haven’t seen yet that I feel like deserve a look at, there’s a chance I could very well draw it into winter or around national signing day.”
Recruited by schools all over the country, Hardin says his parents are more than fine with their son moving on to greater horizons regardless of where that might be.
“Their whole theory on it is as long as I’m happy they’re happy,” Hardin said. “They’re going to use every single resource possible in order to do that to get to my games, whatever it takes.
“My dad said if it takes a visit to every single school in the country to find the place I’m happy then so be it. They’re behind me 100-percent and could care less where I go.”