Sunday, March 26, 2017

For Mecole Hardman, Spring Practice is Key

Fans, especially those who keep a close eye on recruiting, always begin to shudder when one of their prized 5-star recruits switches positions.

It's easy to understand why. After all, no matter how good an athlete he is, getting his first reps at a foreign position in college puts him squarely behind the eight-ball. For Hardman, it's not as though the cornerbacks ahead of him are a bunch of Rudy Ruettigers, being 5 foot nothing, a hundred and nothing, with hardly a speck of athletic ability. Likewise for the receivers he'd be tasked with covering on Saturdays.

Many have said since he first signed that Hardman (5'11, 190lbs) could be a fascinating option on offense in the slot, or on some specially designed plays out of the backfield. So, while he does appear to be easing into that role this spring, the question Georgia coaches must answer heading into fall will be, "Is Mecole Hardman a cornerback, or not?"

To be completely fair and reasonable, this is not to suggest he needs to either earn a starting spot or be 100% migrated to offense. He is only heading into his sophomore year, after all. But, there does need to be a level of improvement and enough flashes of "it" as to warrant him staying put.

In my mind, there are basically two possibilities with respect to his starting to get some reps on offense this spring. Either he's beginning to grasp the concepts and techniques at CB to the point where he can afford to miss a few reps at the position, or he's coming along so slowly to the point where it's time to start seeing what he can potentially be on offense instead. Hopefully, it's the former.

There have been instances in the past where a highly rated prospect came to Georgia without a home (position). Richard Samuel and Brandon Miller stick out as guys who started one place, and then ultimately bounced around and never contributed to the level of what many expected. However, those were different cases, as they were both kind of "tweeners" in terms of size and speed. Not fast enough or perhaps quick enough for true speed/quickness positions, and not big enough for more size/strength positions.

With Hardman, he's definitely big enough, quick enough, and fast enough to play either CB or WR. So, the time between the end of spring practice and the beginning of fall is when Georgia coaches need to make a decision. To CB or not CB, that is the question.