Five years ago this week, Mecole Hardman committed to the University of Georgia. Since then, he’s lived a pretty charmed football life.
Hardman played in two SEC championship games, a Rose Bowl and a national championship as a Georgia Bulldog. On Sunday he’ll play in his second-consecutive Super Bowl as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs.
In his second season in the NFL, Hardman caught 41 passes for 560 yards and four touchdowns. He’s also made an impact as a punt returner for the defending Super Bowl champs.
Hardman had a minimal impact in his first Super Bowl, catching one pass for two yards and having a carry that went for a loss of six yards.
The former Georgia receiver is the only Bulldog in the Super Bowl this year, though this is the 20th consecutive Super Bowl that a former Georgia player will be playing in the big game.
“I really want Mecole to get an opportunity to get that second ring,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said.
Tampa Bay does not have any Georgia players. There are also no Alabama players in the Super Bowl, making Hardman the only player coached by Smart to be playing in the game.
The fine folks in Las Vegas, via the William Hill Sportsbook, have put out a number of prop bets for the game. For Hardman, his over/under on catches is 2.5 and his receiving yards total is set for 32.5. Hardman has 75-to-1 odds to win MVP.
Kirby Smart rooting for a close game
While Smart would love to see Hardman win, he’s also got some friends on the Tampa Bay side of things.
“Bruce Arians and I have been friends for a long time and I’m excited to see those guys play,” Smart said.
Arians is in his second year as the head coach for the Buccaneers. This will be his first Super Bowl as a head coach, with him having previous stops in Arizona and as the interim coach in Indianapolis. He was the offensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers for their last two Super Bowl appearances in 2010 and 2011.
Smart though made sure to specify what type of game he is looking to see on Sunday.
“I’m not really pulling for either team. I am rooting for a good, exciting game to watch,” Smart said.
The Chiefs and Bucs played during the regular season, with Kansas City coming away with a 27-24 win over Tampa. That was the last game that Tampa Bay lost.
Keep an eye on Tampa Bay’s receivers for Todd Monken
While Tom Brady has done a lot for this Tampa Bay team, Georgia offensive coordinator Todd Monken has also had an influence on this Buccaneers offense.
Monken served as the offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach for Tampa Bay from 2016 through 2018. He played a big role in the development of Mike Evans as well as Chris Godwin.
In a profile on Godwin, The Athletic’s Robert Mays spoke with Monken about Godwin and what he brings to the Tampa offense.
“He’s got good speed,” Monken said. “He’s got good size. He’s got ball-tracking ability. He’s got good balance and body control. He is good with the ball in his hands. He’s able to break tackles. But the reality is the combination of all that … does make him elite.”
Georgia fans will hope that Monken is able to have a similar effect on Georgia’s wide receivers. The Bulldogs have an exciting young crop of players at the position, with George Pickens and Jermaine Burton seemingly primed for bigger seasons in the 2021 season.
Kansas City and Tampa Bay will play at 6:30 p.m. ET. The game can be seen on CBS.
More Georgia football stories from around DawgNation
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- WATCH: Discussing the biggest hits and misses from the Georgia football 2021 class
- Georgia football: DawgNation’s ultimate 2021 recruiting class yearbook
- Georgia football podcast: Examining Kirby Smart’s cryptic comment about possible addition to 2021 class
- Georgia basketball looks to continue winning momentum against Vanderbilt
- Grading the Georgia football 2021 recruiting class: Quarterback and offensive line earn high marks
- Former Georgia wide receiver Matt Landers finds new home via transfer portal
- Kirby Smart provides more insight on Will Muschamp’s role with Georgia football
- Georgia football podcast: Talking UGA recruiting on National Signing Day
- Kirby Smart on freshmen defensive backs: ‘they are going to have to impact early’