ATHENS, Ga. — No, Mecole Hardman is not permanently at receiver just because he was wearing a different jersey at Tuesday’s practice. At least not yet.
Hardman continues to work on both offense and defense, Georgia Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart said after Tuesday’s practice. A rising sophomore, Hardman was wearing a red offense jersey only because more of his reps were to be at receiver, contrary to previous days.
“This whole Mecole fascination,” Smart said, smiling. “He’s really been working at both. He just worked today at wideout, he was really going to be at wideout more, so we opted to put him in a wideout jersey.”
Another reason Hardman was getting more receiver reps on Tuesday was because of an injury: Jayson Stanley, a rising junior, is out because of a concussion, according to Smart.
For the first time this spring, at least during a media viewing period, Hardman was wearing a red jersey during practice, signifying full-time offensive duty.
There’s a clearer path to playing time on offense. The Bulldogs secondary returns each starter at cornerback and safety, and while those jobs aren’t set in stone, there’s been no sign yet that Hardman was among those pushing for a job. Especially with highly touted early enrollees Deangelo Gibbs and Richard LeCounte, plus the five more defensive backs on the way.
Receiver, meanwhile, is a position at which last year’s best player (Isaiah McKenzie) departed for the NFL, as did perhaps the next-fastest receiver (Reggie Davis). So there’s room for someone with the potential to be a dynamic receiving option.
Hardman’s background is also on offense more than defense, though not necessarily at receiver or cornerback.