Erik Hardeman told IT Monday morning. "Everybody knows your name and is smiling.""> Erik Hardeman told IT Monday morning. "Everybody knows your name and is smiling."">

Recruiting: Recent commit Hardeman talks Texas

"I like the Texas environment, the coaching staff, and when you walk around, it's like one big family," <B>Erik Hardeman</B> told <I>IT</I> Monday morning. &quot;Everybody knows your name and is smiling.&quot;

"Last time I went, walking around with coach (Darryl) Drake, we ran into Kwame Cavil and Ahmad Brooks and a few other players, and Kwame said, 'Texas is the place. Where else would you go? Arkansas? Not if you want to win a lot of games. And the Texas fans own the stadium. The fans do right by you, cheering and staying around after the game to get your autograph. The fans love Texas football.'"

Cavil deserves an assist in the Horns' landing of Hardeman last week, although the Burnt Orange dye had been cast long ago with the state's top-ranked tailback (and eighth-ranked tailback in the nation). "Growing up as a Texas fan, I've been going to Texas games since I was a kid and I'm excited about playing there," said Hardeman, whose mother attended Texas.

"Coach Brown? That's my coach," Hardeman said emphatically when asked to comment on the Texas head man. "Coach Brown can talk. He's a very motivational speaker. I was ready to commit the first time I met him. I was like, 'put my name down, coach.'"

Hardeman said the vast majority of the coaches around the country that recruited him mentioned four qualities that made him such a sought after prospect: size, speed, feet and vision.

"Coach (Bruce) Chambers said he likes the way I get away from danger," Hardeman told IT about the UT coaches' interest in him. "(Chambers) said I could be in the middle of a pile and suddenly he'd see seven guys chasing me. He said I can run around and run through (defenders)."

Offensive coordinator Greg Davis recruited Hardeman for the Horns. Hardeman said Davis liked the fact that he could catch the ball coming out of the backfield. A laughing Hardeman said that despite the fact the Davis is an older guy, he is laid back, and UT's first RB commit for the class of '03 also complimented the OC on his joke-telling despite the at times thin comedic quality of Davis' material.

Hardeman camped at Texas in June and turned in a 4.36 40 (on grass) to win his session's fastest man competition. His 12-on-12 team also won the camp Super Bowl. Hardeman said he measured out at 6-1 and 205 pounds in Austin.

"I'm trying to get my speed up and get stronger. I'm big, but I want to get stronger." Hardeman said he has a bit of incentive to improve his speed. The tailback said he and his Pflugerville backfield-mate Cordall Baldwin have a bet to see who can first run a 4.2 40.

Last season as a junior, the Pflugerville tailback rushed for 1,358 yards and 11 TDs. Hardeman, recruited by Texas solely as a tailback, said he may play some free safety this fall as a senior after playing only at tailback as a junior. At the 7-on-7 tournament this past weekend in College Station, Hardeman played mainly in the defensive backfield. His team lost in the first round of the 32-team championship bracket.

Asked about his future Longhorn backfield-mate Cedric Benson, Hardeman called Benson "the coldest ever." For those of us challenged by the lingo of the younger generation, that is a term of admiration. Although struggling with the words to describe his style, Hardeman did say he finds himself imitating the Horns' super sophomore. "I see myself, after watching his film, trying to do what he does because he's obviously doing something right," he said.

Hardeman said he picked UT over Miami, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Nebraska and UCLA. He added that he doesn't think any of those schools have tried to contact him since his commitment and he doesn't plan to take any official fall visits other than to the Forty Acres. Hardeman also said he will continue to occasionally make the short drive down I-35 from his home in Pflugerville to pop in at DKR. Club members click here for more on Hardeman.

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