MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — There are a few things to quickly pick up when it comes to 4-star DL Jay Hardy.
He’s a very good player and a pretty talented overall athlete at that. The 6-foot-5 Hardy also plays a position of great need. Georgia must sign a strong class across the defensive front when it comes to the 2020 recruiting cycle.
The program will likely lose at least six projected contributors from the defensive line after the 2019 season. At least.
That issue is compounded by the notion the Bulldogs have seen a few high-level targets already look elsewhere of late. That’s why a lot of our DawgNation readers tell me they plan to pay very close attention to what happens up front between now and those two signing days for the class of 2020.
Hardy is seen as one of the bigger targets for UGA across the front. The Bulldogs might also have an ally in 2019 signee Zion Logue in the recruitment on Hardy. Those two go way back and get along with one another quite well.
A conversation with the nation’s No. 4 strong-side DE prospect from the 247Sports Composite ratings also reveals the following:
- He attends an all-boys school in Chattanooga and carries a strong academic profile
- Stanford has offered. He cannot enroll early out of McCallie School and currently aspires to be an engineer.
- Kevin Cooper, his older brother, played fullback at Tennessee. He started in 27 games from 2007-2010.
- The 6-foot-5, 270-pound rising senior has played three sports growing up (baseball, basketball and football) in Tennessee. He was once a slugging first baseman.
- Still plays varsity basketball. He’s adept enough around the perimeter to drain seven three-pointers in a game growing up. He’s made four treys in a single varsity game so far.
- When Nick Saban offered Hardy, he didn’t say anything along the lines of “you have an offer from us” or anything akin to that. Saban simply told him that he could come to play for Alabama if he wanted to.
- It seems necessary at this point to reset this matter with the notion we are discussing a DL prospect here.
- He’s known as “Big Jay” to those who know him well. Why? “I’ve been tall for forever and was like 5 feet and about 10 inches when I was in the fifth grade.”
He plans to make his decision toward the end of his senior season.
“So I can just like keep my mind off on committing and all that and knowing where I want to go to,” Hardy said. “I can start focusing on that toward the end of the season.”
What is he looking for?
“A good education and a place that feels like family,” Hardy said. “It will be a place I feel like I would be comfortable with if I wasn’t playing football there.”
Look for Hardy to advance a top schools list sometime after his spring football practice. He can also rattle off a list of schools that will make that cut.
“LSU, Tennessee, Georgia and Georgia Tech,” he said. “Those are the main ones.”
He’s seen as an athletic and a strong player. If you scan his film, he is by no means afraid to mix it up in the trenches and throw his body around in order to make a play.
Zion Logue and Jay Hardy? Real thing? Or an overrated ally?
As stated earlier, the Bulldogs signed his good friend Zion Logue out of Tennessee in its 2019 class. As far as those things go, they usually don’t normally wind up being the major reasons why an elite recruit makes his own personal decision about where to go to school.
Those connections usually end up ranking somewhere between a novelty or a nice little sidebar to the main things which will cement the final decision.
But I’m not so sure that will be what takes place here. I got the chance to watch Hardy and Logue at a recent OnTop Athletics prospect camp in Tennessee.
Those two get along well and know each other well. If Hardy decides to give UGA an official visit, I’m sure that Hardy will feel quite comfortable with Logue as his host.
Come on down here son you know POPZ got you😂😂🐶 https://t.co/wCczd3aABe
— ❌Zion Logue❌ (@tharealzbo0) May 6, 2019
Those two basically grew up together playing AAU ball together coming up. Logue at one time even felt like his college football was going to be on the basketball court.
That was before his body reshaped itself considerably in high school.
“He and I played together on the same summer league team in seventh grade,” Hardy said.
Logue has been in his ear, but it actually only reinforces what he has already seen for himself at Georgia.
“He says it is a good place but I liked it when I went to Georgia, too,” Hardy said. “That’s what I have to get back over there, too. I like hanging around with coach [Tray] Scott, too. He’s young so I feel like I can talk to him about anything.”
Georgia offered him in January. Hardy visited the following month.
“I liked it a lot,” Hardy said. “The academics are strong and in place there and it is a good campus to be around. It is in Athens so it will be harder to get in trouble than a really big city.”
The Bulldogs, like most of his top group, make him feel like a priority and text him almost every day.
“They sound like I could come in and play there,” Hardy said. “At the beginning when I was getting recruited, I didn’t think like I was going to be able to play there but they kept telling me the work I would need to put in and then be able to play at Georgia. It just made me think about Georgia even more.”
Which schools are in it for Jay Hardy?
Look for Hardy to take a couple of his officials in June and save the rest for the fall. He hasn’t planned out any of those spring trips yet.
Hardy brought up LSU a couple of times during our conversation. He said he speaks with head coach Ed Orgeron a lot. The nation’s No. 86 overall prospect for 2020 enjoyed a two-day unofficial visit to LSU earlier this year.
In comparison, he was only able to check out UGA for one day earlier this year. It was just a “Junior Day” visit.
“I toured the campus with the [LSU] coaches one day,” Hardy said. “Then I went to a spring practice there the next day.”
There will be another SEC school in the mix here, too.
“Kentucky is like towards the top for me, too,” Hardy said. “They’ve been in close contact since they first offered me.”
Every school that is standing out to him right now brings up how versatile he can plug in and play different positions at the college level.
“They all say I can play all across the line except at noseguard,” Hardy said. “I like it. I just have to get stronger and bigger so I can go both inside and outside.”
He likes Tennessee given his status as a legacy.
“They still want to recruit me,” Hardy said. “I just have to see I can build a better relationship with them to see if I can go there.”
He said he carries a 3.1 grade-point average in the classroom. Hardy really enjoys his math classes. He says figuring out numbers and equations is just more natural for him.
Hardy feels he’s better at sniffing out the run and concludes that he will be an even better pass rusher once he refines his technique.
But he did fare pretty well last fall with a signature game against 4-star OT Marcus Henderson. Henderson rates as the nation’s No. 11 OG on the 247Sports Composite for this cycle. That said, Hardy said he picked up two sacks against him in a game last fall.
“That was my breakout game last year in the last game of my junior season in the semifinals,” he said. “They beat us in the semifinals by three points.”