ATHENS — Mecole Hardman was one of Georgia’s top recruits, a five-star whose signing day announcement drew a big crowd to Elbert County High School. And yet two games into this season, he has yet to see the field.
After not playing last Saturday against Nicholls State, Hardman replied on Twitter to a fan: “Don’t worry you’ll hear my name soon.”
Kirby Smart is making it sound that way, too. Bot not on offense or defense yet.
“He’s doing a good job on special teams. I mean he’s literally that close to getting in the game on special teams to help us,” Smart said after Tuesday’s practice. “Eventually we’ll need him. And he’s working hard, so I’m proud of what he’s done.”
Smart didn’t say what role that was on special teams: Given Hardman’s athleticism, it could be as a returner, or as a gunner on punt or kick coverage. It’s actually a surprise Hardman didn’t have one of those roles the first two weeks.
But it shouldn’t be much of a shock that Hardman has yet to play at cornerback, his main position. While he played some defensive back in high school, he was mainly a quarterback.
“He’s playing a new position, which I warned people that it’s not easy when you change from an offensive skill position most of your life to a defensive back,” Smart said. “That’s not an easy transition. You don’t just go out there and just all of a sudden become great at it. So he’s had bumps in the road, but he’s not gotten frustrated. He’s worked really hard at it. He’s shown improvement. He’s going to be a really good player.”
It’s just a matter, Smart added, of when Hardman understands the nuances of the position, such as leveraging the receiver, and playing the deep ball.
For now, though, it appears work ethic isn’t the issue.
“I’m proud of Mecole. He’s worked really hard,” Smart said. “And he’s one that I would tell you if he didn’t. He’s worked really hard.