But just who is Eilar Hardy when he is away from the football field?
We went to the best source when it comes to Eilar, his mother Tina in our latest edition of "A Mother's Words" on Irish Eyes.
Over the past two years, I have had a chance to watch and get to know Eilar Hardy as one of Ohio's top football prospects for the Class of 2011. During that time, I have watched a young man become more comfortable with the attention that comes from being pushed into the spotlight of the recruiting world without him losing the thing that matters most, his family and teammates.
Tina Hardy has seen her son grow in so many ways during the course of his life, but one thing she learned early was her son's love of football.
"Eilar Hardy the non-football player use to write about football when he was very little. I am talking about Eilar at four and five years old now, he got to where he could write pretty good. About second grade, I found one of his journals and all he talked about was football in it. He had pictures and words and it was like this little book on how much he loved football. I did not even know. I knew he liked football, but I did not know how much he loved it."
The Making Of IceThroughout the recruiting process, those who would speak with Eilar always came away knowing he was in full control. Smooth, smart, and laid back are just a few of the things that set Eilar apart from others. Tina has seen this side of her son all of his life.
"Growing up he was very laid back. He really looked up to his brother Eisen, but his determination as he got older to be himself has always set him apart. He worked very hard to be an individual and not just like his brother. He made his own way in his own way. He has surprised me because he was always so laid back and that is where he got his name "Ice" because he was always so cool. Eilar did not go out and search for conversations with people, he would pretty much open up with you if you started it with him."
"Eilar would never speak up or bring attention to himself. He has never liked to bring attention to him. So it has been nice watching the transition he has made from being a little boy, to where he is now cause he has learned to handle the lime light, for the lack of a better word. I mean he really can handle it and that is something years ago I never thought he would be able to do because he never liked that kind of attention."
"Even when Eilar did good, he was always laid back and just a very likeable person. People, especially younger kids, have always looked up to him and have always taken to him. They have liked him for some reason even when he was a very quiet person. While he is still that way sometimes, he has become such an exceptional leader. The transition was like building a wall. It started from a solid foundation and has slowly been built higher and stronger over the years. I enjoy listening to him during interviews and remember telling him back in ninth grade he would be doing interviews. He would always say he did not want any part of it, but look at him now."
College Was ExpectedWhile both of her sons have been able to trade athletics for academic tuition, Tina and her husband Bill have always told their children a college education was fully expected out of them. When did Tina first feel that Eilar would have a chance to earn a college degree?
"A very long time ago when Eilar was playing little league he knew there was an expectation for him to go to college with the most important thing being from him to finish college. I did not really see at that age he was going to use football for a scholarship, but I knew he was good, and I knew he was always a star on his teams.
"However, I had a different perspective, maybe my husband knew, but I did not. I was never looking as college was going to be paid for as an option for them. I always knew they were going to go, and I knew they would play sports because they have always loved sports. But to this degree, I did not really see it until they got to the high school level. I always knew they were going to college, but going to Notre Dame. I never really thought about it until they got to high school."
Connected At The HipOne thing learned from our conversation was the closeness Eilar shares with his mother. Tina has fully enjoyed her son and the time they spend together.
"When nobody is around Eilar likes to sit very close to me and he likes to talk. We are very, very close and I love that about my son's, as they have never been afraid to show their affection towards my husband or me in front of their friends. I know a lot of kids are not like that with their parents, but our kids are like that."
"We talk a lot because it is very important that we talk and keep an open line of communication so we talk a lot. We talk about school, girlfriends; we talk about everything and just sit on the couch. We spend a lot of time on the couch if he is not at practice or out running around."
When asked what her son will miss the most when he leaves for Notre Dame, Tina Hardy was quick to respond with what makes her son special.
"I feel he will miss the time we spend together on those weekend days when he is not at football or running around. I feel this is what he likes to do and I feel he is going to miss it the most because he enjoys his family time. We have already been talking about this a lot as the transition is going to be a challenge.
"Eilar knows he will have to focus on school and everything that is going to be involved. He is going to miss being home and it is not going to be as if everything is great all the time." He really likes his home life."
Playing In IrelandOne of the neat things the Irish will do during Eilar's career is playing in Ireland. Has the future Irish talked about this trip yet?
"He's talked about it a little and the thought of it is exciting to him. He has traveled a lot in his young life because of AAU basketball. His older brother had gone over to Italy and Europe traveling with his high school basketball team, but Eilar has yet to experience going overseas and being that far away from home. I think he will be excited, but I think he will also be ready to get back home. This is a huge opportunity as he loves to travel and loves the excitement, but he also likes the simple things."
Father's Home CookingWhile most college bound athletes have a favorite dish cooked by their mother, Tina knows her son will miss his dad's breakfast the most.
"My husband always fixes Eilar a homemade big breakfast. His dad fixes him pancakes, grits, sausage, and whatever else he wants for breakfast on the weekends. He always gets what he wants when it comes to food as we are trying to put the pounds on him. As for me, Eilar always likes my eggs and bagels with apple jelly."
"Watching Eilar go through the recruiting process got a little hairy at times for me because I felt he was being pulled in so many different directions all the time. I saw it wear on him a little bit and would always ask him if he was all right or if it was becoming too much on him. I always wanted him to know he could take a break from all of it whenever he felt he needed to.
"The recruiting process is very important, but he is my son and you want to make sure you protect them. There were people up at the school all the time and people calling him every five minutes and I saw the wear on him and felt at times it was bothering him as I know it was wearing on me. But he handled it and when he made the decision to go to Notre Dame, I was so happy.
The ChoiceDuring the recruiting process, parents will have their favorite programs and sometimes they are not the one their children decide to attend. For Tina Hardy, Notre Dame became her number one favorite of all the programs Eilar was considering. But she never wanted to get in the way of his decision.
"When Eilar made the decision to go to Notre Dame it was clearly his choice and only his choice. Notre Dame was my favorite, but we made it very clear he was the one who must live the college life. He was the one going away from home having to maintain the grades and football. He was the one that has to be happy with the decision. I never wanted any part of my son thinking this was a wrong decision and he made it because of his mom or his dad. "
When Eilar decided on Notre Dame, I had not seen him so happy in such a long time. It made me feel good inside knowing he had made his decision and was so happy about it. You know, the recruiting process is fun at first, but this has been like three years of recruiting since Eilar got his first offer from Maryland. So all that time, every single day, it started to wear on him at least to me.
"He did not think it was such a big deal, but having people calling all the time and at school almost every day I feel wears on a young person's mind. This is such a big decision, but I believe Eilar handled it very well."
Note: Irish Eyes will have more from Tina Hardy on her son and Irish verbal pledge Eilar Hardy in part two.