Take one look at Montario Hardesty's 10.36 100 meter time and you can already slot him in just about every skill position on the field. Offense, defense, either way, you are getting a speed-demon in this North Carolina stud.
For his New Bern high school team though, Montario's assets were utilized most frequently at running back and assets they certainly were. Totaling over 2,000 yards rushing on the ground while still managing to catch balls for over 300 yards to boot, Hardesty was a nightmare, well, at least for the defenses his team faced.
If you ask Montario though what his main strength as a running back is, you might be surprised at the answer. "I think my ability to see the field is my main strength." he said. "I can see the gaps, the coverage and I have pretty good instincts where to go."
Of course, when Hardesty does decide to go....well, he's gone.
One thing about impressive track times does have to come up, especially when talking football. The list is long and for many coaches, probably frustrating in the number of track stars they have pulled to play with the pigskin only to find out that once you put the pads on them, they might as well be blocking.
That's a problem that Montario realizes all too well, but he knows that and honestly, take a look at his stats and you can tell that Hardesty must not be running in mud. "There's a lot of track people that come to play football." Hardesty stated. "But, I am a football player that runs track. I have spent my whole life just playing with the football, so I'm not like one of those guys that comes in and isn't used to all that extra weight and what you have to do."
"Track people have speed to go in a straight line. I have always been practicing to have speed no matter which direction I am going."
"To me, it's just football speed."
Football speed indeed and you can count that towards or at the top of the list of reasons why Hardesty is being recruited from coast to coast. Schools like Florida State, N.C. State, Notre Dame, Nebraska, Virginia Tech, East Carolina and North Carolina are all recruiting Hardesty with a passion, all of the above save for the Seminoles having offered him in writing. That's not all as Hardesty stated he's got 7 total, but you get the point.
For those schools, there is a point that they probably need to get as well in that though Montario's athleticism and size allows him to play a host of positions, he has an obvious choice of what he would like to play. "I'd like to play running back in college." he said. "N.C. State is recruiting me as a safety and Florida State wants me as a corner, but everyone else is recruiting me as a running back."
That's not to say that N.C. State and FSU are out of the picture, but Hardesty stated that he's obviously looking at those recruiting him as an I-back a little bit closer than the rest.
And, really the only other main criteria for the I-back is fairly straight and to the point. "Wherever I go, they have be a winning program that really cares about winning." he said. "I want to win and I want to do it as a running back."
Montario said that right now he isn't looking at anyone closer than another. With 7 offers already down in writing for the North Carolina back, chances are there's probably going to be a lot more in the near future. That's where Hardesty is looking to because he isn't in any hurry to decide where he wants to go. "I've got choices and that's great." he said. "I've got hopefully a lot more teams I can look at in the future."
Hardesty will no doubt have that , but did say that he plans on making it to a couple of schools during the Summer for a chance to look around. "I'm probably going to take some unofficial visits in-state to some one-day camps and a couple of others out of state before the season starts." he said.
Oh, and if this isn't all enough, Hardesty's speed has landed him as a qualifier for the Junior Olympic team as a member of his local track club having hit the necessary marks both handheld and electronic in the 100 meter dash.
Face it folks, if you are looking for your school to secure a bonafide burner, look no further than New Bern, North Carolina. It's where a lot of schools will be looking pretty hard this year.
Steve Ryan can be reached at email@example.com or 402-730-5619