"You know, me and my parents went to the Junior Day deal last weekend," Jake Hardage said. "We were taking a tour of the campus and then Coach (John) Hevesy came and told me that it was time for me to go and talk with the boss (Dan Mullen). We went and sat down with him in one of the suites at the stadium and he told me that they were offering me a scholarship."
Hardage reports that both he and his parents were overjoyed at the good news. The Northeast Arkansas standout holds an earlier offer from Southeast Missouri State, but the nearly 6-6, 329 pounder reports this tender was a little different.
"The offer from Mississippi State is my first big offer," Hardage said. "It's in the SEC and they were like 5th or 6th in the country in what I want to major in. I am planning to go get my degree in Agricultural Engineering and Mississippi State has one of the top programs in the country for that.
"My parents were really proud for me and really happy. That's about $35,000 in tuition that they want have to pay."
Several other schools have shown some early interest in the well spoken and personable big man. Hardage plans to take in two more junior days this month and make the rounds this summer for the camp sessions at some interested programs.
"I am going to Memphis this weekend to see what they have to say and then the next weekend, I am going to SEMO (Southeast Missouri State)," Hardage explained. "This summer, I plan on going to camps at Mississippi State for sure, Arkansas, Alabama and a few more."
With nearly a year until signing day 2018, Hardage plans to take his time and see what options roll in before making a decision. Despite his plans to take a methodical approach to his college selection, Hardage heard plenty of things he liked at Mississippi State.
"Coach Mullen told me that it's a family down there," Hardage said. "If you go down there, then you become part of that family. That's the kind of program I am looking for. I had a good time down there and I know I am going to be back down there to learn more about everything."
Hardage and and the rest of the Redskins of Pocahontas High are eager to get back to work on the football field. A playoff team a season ago, PHS ended the year with an 8-3 record. As a senior, Hardage is looking to build on last season's successes.
"We usually have spring football the last two weeks of May," Hardage said. "We are already thinking about that and getting ready for next season. I think we have the chance to have a good season this year."