Mecole Hardman Jr. is 5-feet-11 of pure, raw speed. His playmaking ability with and without the football is rare.
Tennessee doesn’t have an offensive player with the Scout five-star prospect’s skillset — but it sure would like to.
The Elbert County (Ga.) High School playmaker made yet another unofficial visit to Knoxville over the weekend, seeing the then-No. 23 ranked Volunteers play then-No. 19 Oklahoma at a sold out and checkerboard Neyland Stadium crowd of 102,455.
“Oh, it was crazy, man,” Hardman told InsideTennesseee. “It got so loud in there. It got real lould in there. ‘Gah, these fans get super loud.’ I enjoyed all that. It was just good hearing all the fans and hearing the people call our names, telling us to come to this school and this and that. It was nice seeing it. I know they didn’t get the win but I still had a great visit so that’s all that matters.”
Hardman spoke with third-year coach Butch Jones and other assistants while on campus Saturday. The conversations weren’t altogether different from how they usually go.
“No, not really,” Hardman said. “We still talked about the same things, you know coming to the school and having a good time and he just made me think about my decision. We didn’t only talk about football — how I was feeling, how everything was going, how school is going, just simple conversations.”
Tennessee led by 17 points at one point but fell in double overtime to the Sooners 31-24. Hardman said the Vols’ loss doesn’t deter him from considering wearing the orange.
“I definitely can see me playing at Tennessee and being a great threat on that offense that they have,” Hardman said. “Losing the game, I don’t really look at it too much. It was still a great game played. Oklahoma had some playmakers on their team. (Oklahoma wide receiver Sterling) Shepard made some plays. You can’t take the playmaker out of the playmaker. When it comes down to it, those guys step up in big games. I go by the saying: ‘Great players make big plays in big games.’ He was a great player and he made big plays and had a big game for them. That’s just how it happened.”
The Scout No. 1-rated athlete in the South Region knows of three official visits, starting with a trip to Miami (Fla.) this weekend to see the Hurricanes host Nebraska.
Hardman will also official to Ole Miss to watch the Rebels take on Louisiana State on Nov. 21 and to Michigan to see the Wolverines host Ohio State on Nov. 28. With the other two official visits, Hardman suggested he will trip to Florida, Florida State or Oregon.
“It just depends on who comes to me or whatever. So I just have to see where my next two are going to be at,” he said.
Georgia and Tennessee are the clear-cut leaders for his services. However, Saturday may have been the final trip to Rocky Top for the five-star with 4.48 speed.
“I don’t know. It might be the last time I’ll be there. It just depends on how everything works out. As soon as I take all of my visits and see everything. I just want to see how it goes,” Hardman said.
The Peach State standout added that he will not enroll in college in January and he could make a verbal declaration “definitely by November.”