The last all-state tight end from West Virginia who came to Ohio State has
found a new position along the offensive line. Highly-touted as a West Virginia
prep star at tight end, R.J. Coleman is now repping at guard for the Buckeyes as
he begins his redshirt sophomore campaign in the fall.
Last year, in just his junior season, Derek Hardman of Roane County High School in Spencer, W.Va. earned all-state honors as a tight end, but by the time his college career even begins he might be better suited to man an offensive tackle position.
At 6-6, 255 pounds, Hardman recorded a 5.06 second 40-yard dash time at the Nike camp held at Ohio State in April, a time that would be considered good for a tackle and maybe a step slow at tight end.
"I felt better once I got out on the field and out of the testing room," said the rangy Hardman who worked on his individual drills with the tight ends at the Nike camp.
A two-way performer at tight end and defensive end for the Raiders the past two seasons, Hardman thinks his future at the next level will probably be played somewhere along the line on the offensive side of the ball.
"Right now from most of the colleges that I've heard from, they've said that defensively they like me, but on offense they think I'll probably grow a little bit more, especially in my first year of college," Hardman said. "So I'll either be a real big tight end or maybe I'll move down to tackle, which doesn't bother me at all. It doesn't matter really, it's just all about playing."
Hardman, who registered 99 tackles on defense last season, caught 31 passes for 291 yards and one touchdown. But his roots on offense are really as a blocker.
"Every once in a while, catching the ball is a fun reward for blocking. I like it," he said. "But when I grew up I was originally a lineman, that's what I was. I was a pretty big boy. Then two years ago I got to move to tight end and I like that too. It's a lot of fun."
The athletic Hardman, a three-sport participant at Roane County, runs the shuttle hurdles on the track team.
"I think I have decently quick feet for a bigger guy and I feel that I can block well," he said as he began to describe his skills as a tight end. "And I can catch if I have to. I'll do anything they want me to do, it's up to whatever college I go to I'm sure. It really doesn't matter what position I play, we'll just have to wait and see.
"Right now, I'm doing football, basketball and track and (recruiters) have told me that once I focus on one thing and just really start hitting the weights and stuff like that, then I'll probably gain a lot of weight. So we'll just have to wait and see."
Speed is one issue that he's trying to address.
Derek Hardman and his uncle Von
Hardman, who played
"I'll work on it this summer a lot," Hardman said. "I've been
working on it now in track and I've been running and it helped going to the Nike
Camp. It was mostly about speed and that did help."
In addition to him being selected as all-stater on offense this past year, Hardman was named all-conference as a defensive end in the same season. Hardman was also a second-team all conference selection on the hardwood, averaging around 12 points and 12 rebounds a game this past hoop season. And he set the school record in the shot putt and he finished fifth in the state in that event last season as a sophomore. Hardman has since broken his own school record on a couple of occasions this track season in throwing the shot and he just recently set his current mark at 52' 3."
Being so versatile could obviously be a big asset to Hardman in terms of him being recruited. But for now Hardman just wants to get out there this summer and see some more colleges in person in order to have a better idea of what exactly is all out there.
"Really right now I haven't seen many of the schools, just West Virginia and Ohio State. Those are the only two that I've been to for a game," he said. "This summer I'm going to go to Ohio State, Marshall, West Virginia and maybe even Tennessee. I just want to go to some of these camps and get to know the coaches at these camps and see if I would like it there."
Ideally, Hardman would love to carry on the Hardman name at Ohio State. His great uncle Von Hardman played for the Buckeyes during the 1961 season and he attended the Nike camp along with Derek's father, Tom, who is the head coach at Roane County.
"I've been watching them on TV so many times and I've always wanted to play there as a little kid," said Hardman as he expressed his affinity toward the Buckeyes. "The place is wonderful and just getting up there for the camp was kind of a dream come true. My uncle is a big part of our lives and he's a big Ohio State fan. The first game I ever went to was with him. I don't remember which year it was. I can probably find the ticket stub, I'm pretty sure I kept it. I think they played Michigan State (1998)."
So far, Hardman hasn't heard much officially from the Buckeyes up to this point. In fact, he hasn't received any Division I scholarship offers as of yet.
"I'm sure (Ohio State) have a lot of people to talk to but I can't wait to hear from them," said Hardman who scored a 23 on the ACT and 1020 on his SAT. "I'm pretty interested in them; it's just a matter if they're interested in me."
In the mean time, Hardman intends to turn it up a notch in his preparation for football season once his track season ends at the state tournament on the weekend of the 22nd of May. He's excited about his future whether he gets that much-coveted look from Ohio State or not.
"I'll be lifting hard and I'll continue working on my speed. I've got to work on everything really," he said. "I'm just really excited, it's a big deal. No one from Roane County, no one from Spencer, no one from where I live has ever really been recruited to Division I. It's just exciting and I can't wait to see what happens. I'm just up for the challenge and I just can't wait."