Editor’s Note: From time to time, the staff at DawgNation will answer direct questions from readers about subjects pertinent to UGA football. This installment reflects a very popular reader and viewer question that has come up numerous times. Disclaimer: This blog post would have been a good candidate for the sarcasm or the satire font. If there was such a thing.
Mecole Hardman, Jr. is easily one of the fastest Bulldogs on the team. He might be the fastest. Especially over a span of just 15 yards.
Mecole Hardman Jr. is always the first Bulldog through the banner for every home game. Why? (Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Is that why he’s always the first one through the black “Power G” banner prior to every home game?
DawgNation deems this to be the time to unravel this mystery.
We’ve proposed that question to three sources with strong internal knowledge of UGA football.
Hard hitting. Deep Dives. On-the-record sources. That’s the play call for this topic. We will not be denied on short yardage for this one.
Was that part of some secret wink-wink deal he made with Kirby Smart when committed and signed back on National Signing Day in February of 2016?
Is it now a Bulldog tradition? Superstition? Is that why the Bulldogs have not lost a home game since Georgia Tech in 2016?
First and foremost, let’s go to the source himself.
DawgNation: Why are you always the first one through the banner every week?
Mecole Hardman: I don’t know. I think last year….Well, my freshman year Dom (Dominick Sanders) used to go through it and then I kind of fell into ‘I wanted to do it’ and I wanted to be the first one to come through it and every since then I don’t know whatever I started but I have always wanted to be the first one to go through it. Nobody has ever come to me and said ‘I’m going to go through it first’ and I guess I’ve done took that role to go through it.
It is really hard to open [up] than they think it is. Like the banner. You just can’t run through it. You have got to like really open it so. I like the job. I like doing it so I am going to keep doing it.
DawgNation: What if somebody said they want to do it? What would you say?
Mecole Hardman: It would have to be a senior. It would have to be a senior next week [for the Georgia Tech game] for a senior to go through it before me. That’s the only way.
J.R. Reed on Mecole Hardman’s banner-busting ways
J.R. Reed represented the Bulldogs at SEC Media Days. He’s the veteran of veterans on the team. His current streak of 26 straight starts leads the defense. That is second only to senior center Lamont Gaillard and his 39-straight starts dating back to the 2016 season.
He was asked that question about Hardman’s role as the banner buster on this team. Hardman was rated as the nation’s No. 1 athlete coming out of Elbert County and the small city of Bowman in the class of 2015.
DawgNation: Why is Mecole Hardman always the first Bulldog through the banner?
J.R. Reed: (Laughing.) That’s just Mecole. That’s something that Mecole likes to do. He likes to be the first one. At everything. It is a Mecole thing. That’s the only thing you can say about that.
DawgNation: Hardman said that he’d let a senior go ahead of him next week for Senior Day at the Georgia Tech game. What do you think about that?
J.R. Reed: (Laughing. Again.) Oh, I don’t know about that. I’m pretty sure someone could bully Mecole out of the way to go first if they wanted to. (Laughing.) But I think he wants to go first and I don’t think anyone wants to fight him about that. I don’t have a problem with him jumping out first. I don’t really care who jumps out of the banner first before the game.
Has anyone challenged Mecole Hardman on this banner thing?
We’ve researched this topic. Clearly.
The third source we spoke to unearthed that there was a “Beat Mecole to the Banner” movement during that magical 2017 season.
Of course, it was a plan that could have only been devised by the specialists. The kicker-punter-holder-long snapper clan is known to come up with certain diabolical schemes of this nature.
As it turns out, we have rare visual evidence that Mecole Hardman was not the first Bulldog through the banner for the Kentucky home game during the 2017 season. Hardman was mere steps behind the senior. (Curtis Compton/AJC)
Former Georgia punter Cameron Nizialek shared the Intel here. His brilliant Ivy League undergrad degree was a part of the tactics to this caper.
It does sound rather elementary.
“He’s just the fastest guy,” Nizialek said when asked why Hardman always runs out first. “And he runs [out there] before everybody else.”
That was the genesis of that plan during the 2017 season.
“We had a couple of the specialists last year try to be the first ones out,” Nizialek said. “We got up to the front and he just ran past us. He’s just the fastest guy and from then I was the last guy out after that. Because I didn’t want to deal with it.”
I’m not sure that any “Ask DawgNation” topic can be covered as thoroughly as this one. We have gotten down to the very Marianas Trench of this one.
The bottom lines: He’s just the fastest guy. And he wants to be first. If he were a real person, then I’m certain that Ricky Bobby from “Talladega Nights” would certainly concur.