When Preseason All-American LT Michael Oher was asked about teammate Greg Hardy, who Oher goes against every day in practice, he called "G-Hard" a "freak."
"G-Hard is quick and very athletic. He's probably the most athletic and gifted player on the whole team," said Oher. "He can run, he's explosive, he can jump and he has a motor that is non-stop. He's just a freak on the field.
"Off the field, Greg is a great guy. He's fun to be around. He worked harder this offseason than he has in the past. He did very well."
In their daily faceoffs, Michael knows he has to stay motivated against Hardy.
"He can do it all. He has great moves and is a tremendous athlete, so you have to stay on your toes," Oher continued. "He has a lot of different moves, too."
So, you hear all those accolades from a fellow All-American candidate and you have to wonder, why was Greg Hardy second team in spring training under a new coaching staff?
DL Coach Tracy Rocker called it an "adjustment period" and Hardy having to "grow up" a little. In coachspeak, that means play hard all the time, not just when it suits you, including practice.
From his perspective, Hardy seems unaffected by it all. He seems almost oblivious to any of it, other than the mutual respect he has for Oher.
Even though Greg is extremely cooperative during interviews, he can be a bit elusive too, rarely reveling too much of himself.
Strength & Conditioning Coach Don Decker said Hardy showed leadership skills in the offseason, but Greg is vague in assessing that notion.
"We worked hard in the offseason. It's been a change in the way things are done and an adjustment. I like what we did," said Hardy. "I tried to help my teammates and make sure everyone was doing their job. I guess he took that to mean I am being a leader."
Hardy's goals in the offseason were standard fare.
"They have big, fast players at Arkansas, so I was just going to do what I was told and see what happened," he continued. "It worked out well. I'm not trying to be the star. I just want to do my part to help us win and I'll work toward that goal."
Greg said he was not surprised, although every Rebel fan in the free world was, that he was not first team in spring training.
"I haven't been first team since I got here. I came in fourth string and worked my way up," he said. "I know Coach Rock is going to give me my chance and I will do my thing with the opportunity I get. If I'm not first team, I will do whatever I can to help the team win. I'm not worried about any of that. First team is just a label to me.
"The coaches told me when they came in here that they knew I didn't play hard every snap last year and that wouldn't work. They just put it out there for me. You can always work harder and be a force out there."
Hardy feels he is developing a good relationship with Rocker, as are all the DL.
"He's a funny guy, down to earth," said Greg. "He'll work you. He keeps us together and makes us feel like a family. It's not working, getting dogged out and then leaving the building. We are having fun and we get things done."
As for the Rebel defense, Hardy has high expectations.
"I feel we will be strong becuase I think all units and all individuals involved will do their jobs. Of course I think the DL is the best because that's where I play, but the linebackers are going to be real strong and so are the safeties and corners. I have a lot of faith in this defense," he added.
Greg's M.O. is that he's a tremendous talent with a unique personality. He does not refute that.
"I hope everyone has a unique personality," he stated. "I'm just me. I don't walk to anyone else's beat. I dress differently and I'm quiet off the field. On the field, I'm louder. I'm not so different, really, I'm just me.
"I have not changed my personality with the new staff, but I understand they are the coaches and I'm the player and I have to adjust to them and what they expect of me."
Hardy is now tipping the scales at 260 pounds after playing last year most of the season at 238 pounds. He likes the added weight.
"255 may be better for me, I'll have to see, but I did try to get bigger. NFL scouts want bigger DEs," Hardy stated. "I feel stronger and just as fast right now as I was at 240."
Hardy is also ready to renew his daily battles with Oher when practice starts next week.
"We are both supposed to be one of the best so it's always a challenge with Mike," he ended. "Mike is the total package and I think I am too. You stay motivated because neither of us like to lose.
"We make each other better and it's been that way since high school."
Greg Hardy is somewhat of an enigma, on and off the field. Somewhat aloof, but friendly. Somewhat private, but in a public arena. Quiet normally, but also outspoken at times. Different, but really very normal. Ultra-talented, but sometimes seemingly unmotivated. At times, eccentric.
One gets the feeling he likes it - the ambiguity he projects - that way. And, really, there's no harm in that.
Greg Hardy update -
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