Justin Hardy hasn't really dominated any one game this season--until today. He's been important, but he hasn't been the only weapon on the ECU Pirates' high-powered offense. Hardy took over today, however, reminding that he's the Pirates' main weapon. Reigning in 8 catches for 120 and 3 TDs, he also continued his march toward breaking the FBS all-time reception record held by Oklahoma’s Ryan Broyles (346). He's just 46 receptions away.
An accomplishment noteworthy under any circumstance, it is particularly impressive under Hardy's. From his freshman year, he's show he's a big-time talent that went overlooked. Walking on at ECU, he hauled in 64 catches for 668 yards as a freshman. Last season, Hardy registered a stunning 113 receptions for 1284 yards. His pace was a little behind, but today's performance showed it won't be by much. Saturday's seem to be just another day at the office for Hardy.
How has he done it and how could he contribute to the +Carolina Panthers? He's done it through intelligent route running, insane hands, and football instinct. He can just play.
Hardy works man-coverage well and the zone better. His routes are deceptive and efficient. He never looks to be over-exerting himself. He's economic. He can sit down softly in the zone, providing a reliable target for the quarterback, or he can go and get the ball one-on-one. Just look at these hands:
Did I mention he returns punts as well? He doesn't blow them back for TDs (never took one to the house), but he's reliable and comfortable when opposing teams are bearing down.
Compliment this intelligent, polished receiver to Kelvin Benjamin and hopefully a speedster that can take the top off, and the Panthers offense could cook. Let's keep this "Bayard Baller" home in the Carolinas.
Follow this golden-gloved prospect at CarolinaCatChronicles.com. Visit the Countdown 2 Justin Hardy page.