Laurels to Hardy

Football terminology can be misleading, such is the case with defensive tackles which typically do less tackling than any position on defense, however there is a young man from the Magnolia State who is living up to the description of that position in a very big way.

Meet Templeton Hardy, an imposing 6-foot-4, 279-pound D-lineman, who amassed an amazing 105 solo stops and 43 assists for North Panola High School in Sardis, Miss., as a junior. His titanic total featured 28 tackles behind the line of scrimmage including nine via the sack. Additionally, he returned an INT for a TD, forced three fumbles and recovered four. Not bad work for a 10-game campaign. By the way, he's also a starter on North Panloa's basketball team.

Despite Hardy's heroics North Panola finished with an uninspiring 1-9 record. The lack of team success resulted in a lack of individual exposure for the prospect who was redefining his position. That would change after Hardy attended the National Junior Combine at San Antonio in January, and held his own against the nation's top prospects.

He entered the showcase in the Alamodome without any offers and now has 11 including: UCLA, Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Tennessee, LSU, Tulane, San Diego State, Oklahoma and Texas A&M.

Under the discerning eyes of professional scouts and the exacting standards of an NFL Combine, the talented Hardy recorded a 5.2 flat time in the 40 and a 5.21 clocking in the short shuttle. He displayed outstanding quickness, lateral mobility and an ability to explode off the snap. In short, he left little doubt that his 2006 achievements were legit. He also has good strength with a 300-pound bench and a 425-pound squat. He boasts a 28-inch vertical, a 3.3 core GPA and a qualifying ACT score of 18. And he has room for improvement.

"I know how to read blocks and I have good reach and long arms," he said in an interview with "I bull rush well and I use my speed to get to the quarterback. I still want to improve my footwork and get around people quicker. I need to have better moves."

He plans to learn some of those moves from one of the top defensive line coaches in the country — UT's Dan Brooks.

"I'm going to some camps - like Nike, Ole Miss, and some others, I don't know," he said. "I think I'll go to the University of Tennessee defensive elite camp."

Hardy also attended Saturday's Combine in New Orleans and is currently ranked No. 39 among 2008 football prospects in the southeast.

The Vols offered Hardy a scholarship last month with a little assistance from his high school head coach Vincent Johnson, who describes hardy as "scary."

"Temp received an offer from Tennessee today," Johnson told Gene Swindol of "They called and wanted to speak to him, so I gave him the phone. And they offered then."

Communication between Tennessee coaches and Hardy has been more frequent since that day (March 15), and the Vols have made a favorable impression with the rising star.

"Tennessee. I like talking to their coaches too," he said. "They are real hyped too. They text me, and they are easy to talk to, and they know how to win."

Winning in the SEC begins with defense and defense begins with tackles like Templeton Hardy.

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