True frosh Defensive End Greg Hardy had a helluva debut year in 2006, by anyone's standards.
Thrust into a starting role in football early on, he not only survived, there were times when he thrived. Now, entering his second year, he's looking for more.
He went straight from football, where he not only played DE but caught a TD pass from the wide receiver slot in the Egg Bowl win over MSU, to bsketball, where he earned some valuable backup minutes from sheer "want-to."
"I think the hoops experience will help me with football this year. I feel quicker and more agile now and I lost some weight that I needed to," said Hardy. "I lost about 15 pounds down to 240 and felt quicker when I finally got out for spring training the last week. I was able to do some things athletically I couldn't do at 255-260 pounds.
"I'm at 245 right now and feel that's a real good weight for me. I want to be a quick player and not just a big guy."
Defensive Coordinator John Thompson likes Hardy's versatility.
"He's big enough to take on offensive linemen, but he's quick enough to rush the passer or drop in coverage," Thompson said recently. "Greg has all the tools to be a very good player and you can do a lot of things with him in your calls due to his athleticism.
"He also a kid who understands football and understands leverage. He plays smart and knows how to get things done."
Hardy likes that analysis of him and his talents.
"When you look at the NFL DEs and OLBs, you see guys who can do it all. They are playmakers all over the field. That is my goal - to be an all-around player," Greg stated. "To do that I have to become a better player fundamentally. I have to tackle better and I have to get out of that freshman stage and be a sophomore, a veteran kind of player."
Greg has high hopes for the Rebel defensive line in 2007.
"I think we will be one of the strengths of our defense this year. We play hard and get after people. The key for us is to keep playing hard and learn from our experiences last year," he continued. "We know our strengths and weaknesses and we have been around the league now. It's time to move up our game and I feel we will."
He is also excited about having more depth at the defensive end slots.
"I think between me, Marcus Tillman, Chris Bowers, Kentrell Lockett and maybe some more guys will give us a good rotation where we can be fresh at the end of games," he noted. "Our depth will be a lot better this year, if we can stay healthy.
"Marcus, Chris and I are experienced and Kentrell had a very good spring. We are ready for the challenge and I'm sure we'll have some new guys who will compete for playing time as well."
Between now and the start of two-a-days, Hardy will continue working on the one component he cherishes most in his game - speed.
"I'm trying to get my upper body a little stronger and I'm constantly working on my speed. I learned last year the value of speed - you can never have too much," he added. "I learned a lot about technique last year, but you can always get better with your techniques."
Is there a future for Hardy at wide receiver too? He smiled when asked.
"Hopefully - I like catching touchdowns," he said. "We'll see, but if they ask me, I will try to go make a play. I have confidence in my ability."
Will Hardy remain a two-sport athlete and try hoops again? He's not sure.
"It depends on what kind of season I have in football and how my grades are," he ended. "All I know is that I like to compete and that's another form of competition. I'll play that by ear."
Whether he plays basketball again or is ever asked to try WR in football, one thing is certain, Greg Hardy will be in the middle of the action on the Rebel DL.
Greg Hardy update -
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