University of Tennessee Volunteers
New Bern, North Carolina
New Bern High School
After patiently waiting four seasons for his opportunity, the fifth-year senior took advantage of becoming a favorite of the Vols' new coaching staff by arriving at 2009 fall camp with ten more pounds of muscle added to his frame. No longer having to serve as the "caddy" for Arian Foster, the senior had a banner final campaign, proving the staff right in making him Tennessee's featured back.
Hardesty finished fourth in the Southeastern Conference in rushing, averaging 103.46 yards per game in 2009. That marked the first time since the 2001 season (Travis Stephens, 122.0 ypg) that a Tennessee player averaged more than 100 yards rushing per game. His total of 1,345 yards on the ground in his final campaign was the fourth-best season total by a Volunteer.
Only one other player in school annals (Travis Stephens, 291 in 2001) had more rushing attempts in a season than Hardesty's 282 totes in 2009. He also proved to be quite effective when utilized as a receiver out of the backfield, averaging 12.08 yards per catch. Combining his rushing and pass catching ability, he registered 1,647 all-purpose yards, which rank third on the Vols' season-record chart.
At New Bern High School, Hardesty earned All-Area and All-Conference honors in 2004 after being selected honorable mention All-State the previous season. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Super Southern 100 choice rushed for 2,002 yards and 19 touchdowns as a senior after gaining 1,987 rushing yards with another 19 scores during his junior campaign. He received a four-star prospect rating from Rivals.com and was a National Top 100 team pick by that recruiting service.
Hardesty was invited to play in the 2004 Shrine Bowl. He was named offensive MVP for his play, as he rushed twelve times for 55 yards and one touchdown to go with five kickoff returns for 136 combined yards. He was also a track and field standout at New Bern, recording career-best times of 10.36 in the 100-meter and 21.65 in the 200-meter dashes. He was a state finalist in the 100M in 2003.
Hardesty was recruited and offered a scholarship by the Nebraska, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, South Carolina, and Virginia Tech. However, he chose to play for Tennessee, enrolling in Knoxville for the 2005 season. He was an instant hit in fall camp and appeared in the team's first two games, gaining 18 yards on six carries before a knee injury vs. Mississippi would sideline him for the rest of the season.
Granted a medical hardship, Hardesty retained freshman eligibility entering 2006. He would undergo multiple surgeries to repair anterior cruciate ligament damage in his right knee, so the staff brought him along slowly. He started five of the thirteen games on the schedule, finishing second on the team with 102 chances for 384 yards (3.59 ypc) and four touchdowns. That season, he became the first Volunteer since Travis Stephens in 2000 to rush for a touchdown in four consecutive games.
The 2007 season saw the sophomore limited to ten games playing behind Arian Foster, due to lingering ankle problems. He managed to carry the ball 89 times, gaining 373 yards (4.19 ypc) with three touchdowns, but it was obvious that his injury woes had prevented him from showing off his quickness and cutback agility.
Foster experienced a slump during his senior year, as fumble issues saw the former Vols staff to seriously consider giving Hardesty more playing time. They stuck with their senior through a trying season though, leaving Hardesty to start just one game. A foot stress fracture sidelined the junior late in the year, as he finished with 271 yards and six touch-downs on 76 rushing attempts.
In his first relatively injury-free season, Hardesty led the Vols with 282 carries for 1,345 yards (4.77 ypc), finding the end zone thirteen times on the ground. He also became much more involved in the passing game, hauling down a career-best 25 passes for 302 yards (12.08 ypc) and a score, as he finished seventh in the Southeastern Conference with an average of 126.69 all-purpose yards per game.
Hardesty started 19-of-49 games at Tennessee…The fifth-year senior gained 2,391 yards wioth 26 touchdowns on 556 carries (4.3 ypc), adding 405 yards and a score on 38 catches (10.66 ypc)…Attempted one pass and recorded three tackles (2 solos)…Gained 2,796 all-purpose yards, the 15th-best career total in school history…Hardesty's 1,647 all-purpose yards in 2009 rank third on the school season-record list, topped by Reggie Cobb (1,721 in 1987) and Arian Foster (1,650 in 2007)…His 556 rushing attempts tied Travis Henry (1997-2000) for the school's all-time record…His 282 carries in 2009 rank second on Tennessee's season-record list behind Travis Stephens (291 in 2001)…Hardesty's career-high 39 rushing attempts vs. Kentucky in 2009 tied Jay Graham (Vanderbilt, 1995) for fourth on Tennessee's game-record list behind Travis Stephens (41 vs. Arkansas, 2001), Johnnie Jones (41 vs. Rutgers, 1983) and Arian Foster (40 vs. Vanderbilt, 2005)…His 2,391 yards rushing placed eighth on the Vols' career-record chart…Hardesty's 1,345 yards on the ground in 2009 are surpassed by Travis Stephens (1,464 in 2001), Jay Graham (1,438 in 1995) and Jamal Lewis (1,364 in 1997).
All-Southeastern Conference second-team selection, earning SEC Offensive Player of the Week honors vs. Kentucky…Started all thirteen gamers, setting career-highs as he led the team with 282 carries for 1,345 yards (4.77 ypc) and thirteen touchdowns, ranking fourth in the SEC and 23rd nationally with an average of 103.46 yards per game (first Vol to average over 100 yards rushing per game in a season since Travis Stephens in 2001)…Finished fifth on the squad with 25 receptions for 302 yards (12.08 ypc) and a touchdown…Scored 84 points and recorded a solo tackle vs. UCLA…His 1,647 all-purpose yards rank third on the school season-record list…Had ten rushing attempts for 20 yards or longer, scoring three times on those long runs…Opened the season with a touchdown run in each of the Vols' six games and closed out the schedule with at least one score in each of the final three contests…Ran for over 100 yards six times.
2009 GAME ANALYSIS
Western Kentucky…Hardesty opened the season by beginning a string of six consecutive games with one touchdown run, gaining 160 yards on eighteen attempts…Scored for the first time in 2009 on a 43-yard scamper in the third quarter…Asked about his thoughts of finally being a full-time starter, Hardesty told the post-game press, "I think the new coaching staff saw what I could do in the spring. I feel like they have a lot of confidence in me. I just have to go out and play."…Hardesty Offensive Impact-The tailback gained 160 of the team's 380 yards rushing.
UCLA…The senior powered his way for 89 yards on 26 tries…Late in the first quarter, he ran for an 11-yard touchdown…Hardesty Offensive Impact-The tailback gained 89 of the team's 115 yards rushing.
Florida…Hardesty followed with 20 carries for 96 yards, including a 17-yard score in the fourth quarter that capped a 7-play, 63-yard possession…Hardesty Offensive Impact-The tailback gained 96 of the team's 117 yards rushing.
Ohio University…The tailback struggled to get going for the first two quarters, but after a "spirited" lock room speech by head coach Lane Kiffin, Hardesty totaled 123 of his 140 yards in the second half, carrying 20 times while adding 29 yards on two catches…He also scored on an 11-yard run, ending a 9-play, 69-yard drive…Despite the win, Kiffin wasn't hunting alibis; "You're supposed to prepare like a starter, so there's no excuse of not having enough reps or not being in there," he said. "It doesn't matter who's in there. We've got to play better."…Asked by the media how he prepares to play each week, Hardesty noted, "I get iced up on Sundays and go back out there on Mondays."…With 485 yards through four games, the tailback finished the first month of 2009 as the SEC's leading rusher…Teammate David Oku was downright astounded. "I don't know if we can curse or not," the freshman tailback told reporters. "But I'm sure surprised. For a man to go through three knee surgeries, that is a helluva guy to be doing something like this still. Most people would give up. I ask him everyday ‘How the hell do you do it?' "… "I don't think I should get all the credit for that," Hardesty of his production this season. "I can't do anything I've been doing without my o-line blocking, the receivers blocking downfield and the coach having confidence to give me the ball. "I'm just out there trying to do my part of the job to help my team win."…Hardesty Offensive Impact-The tailback gained 140 of the team's 177 yards rushing.
Auburn…The senior rushed 21 times for 90 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown with 0:28 left in the first half…Added 56 yards on three catches, scoring on a 31-yard fourth quarter toss from QB Jonathan Crompton that concluded a 62-yard, 7-play series…Hardesty Offensive Impact-The tailback gained 90 of the team's 151 yards rushing.
Georgia…Hardesty ran for a touchdown for the sixth-straight game, scoring on a 39-yard third quarter scamper to end an 8-play, 80-yard possession, as he totaled 97 yards on 20 attempts in a 45-19 win, despite playing with right knee soreness…Hardesty Offensive Impact-The tailback gained 97 of the team's 162 yards rushing.
South Carolina…Hardesty produced his third 100-yard rushing performance for 2009, as he ran 23 times for 121 yards and caught a pass for 12 yards…He slipped around left tackle for a first quarter 14-yard touchdown run and scored again in the third stanza from seven yards out…Hardesty Offensive Impact-The tailback gained 121 of the team's 199 yards rushing.
Vanderbilt…Lingering right knee problems prevents Hardesty from practicing much on the Vols' turf field and he was struggling to gain yards the previous two weeks vs. Memphis (13 for 60 yards) and Mississippi (14 for 55), but the senior broke out for 171 yards and a first quarter 5-yard touchdown on 32 attempts…Hardesty Offensive Impact-The tailback gained 171 of the team's 201 yards rushing.
Kentucky…Sore knees or not, Hardesty rightfully earned his SEC Offensive Player of the Week honor, as he rushed for a career-high 179 yards and three touchdowns on 32 attempts, adding 11 yards on two receptions in a 30-24 decision…His first score capped a 60-yard first quarter series from nine yards out…With 3:54 left in the first half, he broke loose for a 13-yard touchdown jaunt…He then ran for a game-winning 20-yard score in overtime to give the Vols a 30-24 decision…Hardesty Offensive Impact-The tailback gained 179 of the team's 226 yards rushing.
Virginia Tech (Chick fil-A Bowl)…Hardesty closed out his career with just 39 yards on 18 carries, but he capped a 10-play, 80-yard second quarter possession with a 4-yard scoring run…Also gained 79 yards on four receptions…Hardesty Offensive Impact-The tailback gained 39 of the team's five yards rushing.
Hardesty played in eleven games, starting vs. Vanderbilt…Suffered a lower leg stress fracture in August camp and the injury would hamper him throughout the schedule, forcing him to miss the Wyoming game when he re-injured his leg early in the South Carolina clash…Finished with 76 carries for 271 yards (4.77 ypc) and six touchdowns… Had four receptions for 24 yards…Blocked a kick and posted an assisted tackle in the Alabama clash…Totaled 295 all-purpose yards, an average of 26.82 yards per game.
2008 GAME HIGHLIGHTS
Hardesty opened the season with 66 yards on twelve carries, scoring on 11 and 20-yard runs vs. UCLA…Followed with a third quarter 6-yard scoring scamper vs. Alabama-Birmingham…Ran for a fourth quarter 2-yard touchdown, finishing with 35 yards on ten carries vs. Auburn…Went over the top for a 1-yard touchdown in the Mississippi State contest…In his only start for 2008, Hardesty responded with seven attempts for 41 yards and a 7-yard touchdown vs. Vanderbilt…The junior ended the season with eight runs for 19 yards vs. Kentucky.
Hardesty was limited to ten games while battling season-long ankle issues, but still finished second on the team with 373 yards and three touchdowns on 89 carries…Also caught three passes for 25 yards (8.33 ypg)…Did not suit up vs. Florida, Arkansas State, Alabama and Louisiana State.
2007 GAME HIGHLIGHTS
Ran for 27 yards and a touchdown on nine carries vs. California in the season opener… Added 68 yards and a score on fourteen chances vs. Georgia, followed by a season-high 78 yards on sixteen carries vs. Mississippi State…Rushed 20 times for 65 yards in the Arkansas clash…Gained 35 yards on seven runs and 21 yards on a reception vs. Wisconsin in the Outback Bowl.
Brought along slowly after undergoing three knee surgeries in 2005, Hardesty started five of thirteen games, registering 384 yards with four touchdowns on 107 carries (3.59 ypc)… Caught six passes for 54 yards (9.0 ypc) and also recorded a solo tackle in the Vanderbilt clash…Lined up with the starting unit vs. Florida, Marshall, Vanderbilt, Kentucky and Penn State.
2006 GAME HIGHLIGHTS
Opened the season with a 43-yard scoring scamper, totaling 56 yards on five carries vs. California…Added 19 carries for 72 yards and a touchdown vs. Air Force, as he then scored on the ground in each of the Marshall and Memphis contests, becoming the first Tennessee player to run for a touchdown in four consecutive games since Travis Stephens in 2000.While his scoring streak snapped, he picked up 43 yards on fourteen tries vs. Memphis…Gained 52 yards rushing in each of the Arkansas (12 attempts) and Vanderbilt (9 carries) contests.
Played in the Louisiana State and Mississippi games, gaining 18 yards on six carries before suffering a right knee anterior cruciate ligament tear vs. Ole Miss that would end his season.
2005 Season…Suffered a right knee anterior cruciate ligament tear vs. Mississippi (10/01), missing the rest of the season…Would eventually undergo three surgical procedures to repair his leg.
2006 Season…Limited in August camp due to his third surgery, this time to clean out loose particles in his left knee during the summer…Coach Phillip Fulmer said the Vols weren't going to take any chances with Hardesty, who injured his right knee against Mississippi. "We will be very careful with him and get this thing under control and see what we can do," Fulmer said.
2007 Season…Hardesty sat out the Florida 9/15) and Arkansas State (9/22) games with an ankle sprain…Re-injured his ankle in the second quarter, missing the rest of the South Carolina (10/27) and then sat out the Louisiana State clash (12/01) due to his ankle problems.
2008 Season…Sat out the Wyoming game (11/08) due to a lower leg stress fracture.
2009 Season…Suffered a shoulder contusion vs. Florida (9/19)…Missed part of the Georgia contest (10/10) with knee soreness…Throughout the season, Hardesty rested his knee when the Volunteers worked on turf in their inside facility. He sometimes had to come out for a play or two during games. "By the time the trainer gets to me to say he's out, he's already back in. That speaks for him," head coach Lane Kiffin said. "He's really been a warrior, really fought through injuries."
CAMPUS AGILITY TESTS
4.51 in the 40-yard dash…1.53 10-yard dash…2.61 20-yard dash…4.15 20-yard shuttle…
6.87 three-cone drill…41-inch vertical jump…10'4" broad jump…Bench pressed 225 pounds 21 times…31-inch arm length…9 ½-inch hands.
Attended New Bern (N.C.) High School, playing football for head coach Chip Williams…
Earned All-Area and All-Conference honors in 2004 after being selected honorable mention All-State the previous season…The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Super Southern 100 choice rushed for 2,002 yards and 19 touchdowns as a senior after gaining 1,987 rushing yards with another 19 scores during his junior campaign…Received a four-star prospect rating from Rivals.com and was a National Top 100 team pick by that recruiting service…Invited to play in the 2004 Shrine Bowl and was named offensive MVP for his play, as he rushed twelve times for 55 yards and one touchdown to go with five kickoff returns for 136 combined yards…Was also a track and field standout at New Bern, recording career-best times of 10.36 in the 100-meter and 21.65 in the 200-meter dashes. He was a state finalist in the 100M in 2003.
Sports Management major…Born 2/01/87…Resides in New Bern, North Carolina.