As Spring nears, the Rutgers football team prepares for the 2007 campaign. The success of the 2006 season has increased expectations on the New Brunswick campus. Like many college football teams, the Scarlet Knights look to find answers for some key position such as defensive line where they loss captain Rameel Meekins. One of those players looking to fill the loss of Meekins is January enrollee Matt Hardison.
Initially, Hardison was scheduled to report last August but a knee injury suffered in a basketball all-star game pushed his arrival to January. The additional time enabled Hardison to rehab the knee, take a course at a local community college, and workout in the weight room. His work in the weight room brought his weight up to 280lbs from 250lbs. This resulted in a change of position from DE to DT. Since he has not played in a football game in more than a year, Hardison is looking to get on the field as fast as possible.
At 6'4"-280lbs, Hardison can dunk a basketball and retains a lot of speed and quickness, even after the injury and added weight. Since the team is currently in the midst of winter conditioning, Hardison has been testing the knee and he states "it is actually pretty good...its almost back to normal". One of the players who he seeks advice is All-American DT Eric Foster who counsels him on the position and the recovery from knee surgery.
However, Hardison is still getting use to the intensity of Coach Butler's workout as he stated "the first week was ridiculous. I couldn't even lift my arms to eat! It's getting better now though. The workout are pretty much what I had expected. So far it is almost the same as in the summer it was just that I wasn't in Rutgers football shape but I'm finally getting back into it".
As winter conditioning draws to a close, Hardison is looking forward to Spring drills where he can compete for the starting position. The move to inside seems to be a little different due to the angle and speed of the plays but he is getting use to it. As he states, "I have a chance to play and my play will determine when and how much I play, so I have to make each play count".
Hardison still has an opportunity to redshirt but he would obviously like to play. Even so, there are enough capable defensive linemen on the roster so Hardison might not need to be rushed into action.