ELBERTON, Ga. – For many of the nation’s top prospects, the recruiting process can be an exciting time. For others, college football recruitment can turn from enjoyable to stressful in the blink of an eye. For five-star athlete Mecole Hardman Jr., his recruitment has teetered on both sides of the spectrum as the highly coveted prospect told Today’s U.
“It’s going good,” Hardman said. “It’s kind of stressful figuring out which school to go to right now. It’s going good so far. As far as which school I want to go to, it’s getting to the time where I’ve got to lock down on which schools I want to focus on.”
With offers from nearly 30 schools— including the likes of Georgia, Michigan, Auburn, Alabama and Florida State— Hardman has more than his fair share of programs to choose from. At this point, Hardman has already settled on three official visits with two more to potentially come later in the cycle.
“I already took my Miami official visit for the Nebraska game,” Hardman said. “I am taking the Ole Miss game November 21st and Michigan on November 28th for the Ohio State game.”
Hardman, who is rated as the No. 21 prospect and the No. 1 athlete in the country by 247Sports.com’s composite ranking system, recapped his trip to the Hurricanes’ campus, a visit in which he saw Miami squeak out a 36-33 visit over the visiting Cornhuskers.
“At Miami, the official was cool because I have a great relationship with the coaches,” Hardman said. “But I got to learn more about the school and more about the program itself and get more comfortable with the school itself.”
Next on the docket for Hardman will be a trip to Ole Miss in late November when the Rebels host LSU for a highly anticipated battle between two SEC powerhouses.
“Ole Miss is a great school,” Hardman said. “They have good tradition. The coaching staff can assist me over the years with the winning. It seems like a great place to play that I’m interested in. I just want to take everything in and go from there.”
As for Hardman’s third official visit, Michigan will have the opportunity to host the dynamic athlete for its storied rivalry game against Ohio State. This year, head coach Jim Harbaugh has revitalized a stagnant Michigan program to the tune of a top-20 ranking, and Hardman has taken notice of the program’s newfound life.
“When coach Harbaugh came in, everything he does has been a very good job up there,” Hardman said. “ It’s just a place I really want to go see. It’s up north, so I heard football up north is different than football down south. It will be good to experience something new.”
So far, Michigan has unleashed three of its top recruiting aces on Hardman’s case and the elite prospect spoke highly of his relations with the Wolverines’ staff members.
“Coach [Chris] Partridge, coach [John] Baxter and coach Harbaugh keeps in touch himself,” Hardman said. “They DM me and I get a phone call every week once a week too. We have a great relationship. Everything is good. I don’t have anything bad to say about that.”
Despite the selection of Miami, Ole Miss and Michigan as suitable official visit choices, this distinction does not mean that these three schools are on top of Hardman’s recruitment. In fact, Hardman maintains that his recruitment is still wide open at this juncture.
“I have no top schools right now at all,” Hardman said. “I am looking at every school individually and then I will go from there. I will start narrowing my list down in the next month or two.”
In terms of when his announcement will come, Hardman says that he plans to wait until National Signing Day to inform the country of his collegiate decision. In the meantime, Hardman is focused on leading his team to a state championship, a goal that is well in sight as Elbert County stands 4-1 after five contests.
“I’m doing my thing,” Hardman said. “I’m just helping my team win in any way possible. I think I’ve had a good year so far. I’ve improved in my passing game and I’m not turning the ball over as much.”
So far, Hardman has accumulated over 1,000 rushing yards, 400 passing yards and 10 tackles on defense. The most impressive stat, however, may be the zero passes thrown in Hardman’s direction when he is on the field at cornerback.
“I’m a playmaker and a dynamic player,” Hardman said. “I play quarterback, defensive back and receiver. I’m very explosive, very fast, versatile, I’ve got great acceleration, pretty good moves and I’m a good game changer. I’m a player capable of breaking a long run at any point in the game. I’m the type of person you can give the ball to on any down and I’m going to finish it. If you need something, just give me the ball. If you need me to lock down a receiver, I can do it.”
These qualities have solidified Hardman as one of the country’s premiere talents. Look for Hardman to continue his playmaking habits against Jackson County.