Kicking Into Gear

Austin Hardin is quickly making a name for himself in recruiting circles, if he hasn't already.

A kicker, Hardin has kept busy this summer with a loaded camp schedule. Because college recruiters badly want Hardin on campus. They have since hearing of his 59-yard, game-winning field in mid-September, which propelled Marist (Ga.) to a 17-14 win over Southwest DeKalb.

"I've just kind of started this whole process," he said. "A lot of the coaches just wanted me to come out to their camp."

One of his first stops was to Ole Miss. Hardin was in Oxford for the Rebels' elite camp June 4-5, where he showcased his kicking ability in front of special teams coach James Shibest and head coach Houston Nutt.

Some 15-20 of his field goals were charted inside Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. He "missed one or two," he said. However, he was a perfect 3 of 3 from 55 yards out, leaving a lasting impression on Nutt and staff.

"(Coach Nutt) said he loved what he saw. He said, ‘How can I get you here? What do I got to do to beat everyone else out?' They said hopefully a scholarship will free up," Hardin said.

Austin Hardin
Ben Garrett
"They said I was an offer guy right away, they just don't have one right now. He said he was going to recruit me just as if they had offered, and that he wants me to keep him updated."

Ole Miss currently has a kickoff specialist, a placekicker and a punter on scholarship. Still, Hardin is high on Ole Miss, naming the school with Florida as a few of his top schools.

In a recent interview with, Hardin also listed Auburn, who he visited June 15, among his favorites. The Tigers -- along with Tennessee and Buffalo -- have already extended a scholarship offer.

"Florida and Ole Miss are definitely in my top three," he said. "I like both of them. I love the college town here at Ole Miss. Florida, I love the program, the tradition. I've kept in contact with their specialist coach, Coach (D.J.) Durkin. Really, they're right up there.

"Both of them, Florida and Ole Miss, are at the top of my list."

The 5-foot-11, 195-pound Hardin will camp at Florida later this summer, and has already visited Tennessee. Alabama has checked in regularly, as well as California and a host of Ivy League schools.

Florida, Hardin said, has a scholarship open. However, its coaches want to evaluate him in person before offering.

"I really wanted to wait throughout the summer," he said, when asked of a timetable for a decision. "(Coach Nutt) said they don't have an offer right now, but he said basically, he's going to recruit me like they had offered. Because of that, I really do like Ole Miss.

"I want to keep all my options open. I want to go throughout my whole summer. I do not want to commit throughout the summer, ‘cause I know there will be some offers at some of these other camps. There will be some big-time offers, I think. I just wanna wait it out and kind of see, because it's a big decision. Ole Miss is right up there. I really like them."

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