Carolina may be eying a safety in the Top 100 picks as Tre Boston looks less and less like he will be a substantial contributor. Veteran Mike Adams, who the Panthers added this offseason, is clearly a short-term fix. Carolina will need to find an answer for this position which has been a patchwork of players since Gettleman took over.Read More
The Man with the Golden Gloves attended the NFL Combine and performed well Saturday. Never acclaimed as a blazer, Hardy packed his lunch pail and ran a respectable 4.56 40-yd dash. As expected, he showed off those golden gloves, dominating the gauntlet and making some pretty spectacular catches in the route drills. He showed quick feet in the 3 cone drill and showed off his strength on the bench. None of these numbers are going to dominate the combine discussion. What the measurables do show is that he is athletic enough to produce for a NFL team.Read More
Who doesn’t have a soft-spot for a hometown boy? I know I do. It’s why to this day Julius Peppers still remains my all-time favorite Carolina Panther. He was the OG Backyard Baller, playing high-school ball about 45 minutes away from where I grew up. As a senior, one my good friends lined up across from Peppers, who was a freshman at the time, and he knew even then he was going to be special.Read More
The Panther’s have a great home field advantage when it comes to scouting instate talent, the state of North Carolina currently has 7 division 1 football programs. This number may seem low, but it is actually tied for second in the nation behind Texas, and will move to solo second when the Charlotte 49ers move up in 2015. When you add the two outstanding football programs in the South Carolina Gamecocks and Clemson Tigers, the Panther’s have the ability to tap into backyard talent like no other team. Here is a couple prospects to keep your eyes on:Read More
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.
ECU quarterback, Shane Carden, spread the ball around all night, but Freak Magic made his presence known when his number was called. Beginning with a trick play where he threw a TD, Hardy worked the defensive zone, beat defenders one-on-one, and just did all night what any Backyard Baller is expected to do--Ball Out. What was particularly impressive about Hardy's performance was the economy of effort. He didn't look to be working all that hard. Not to say he wasn't giving his 100%, he just made it look easy. It was a cerebral performance, one that demonstrates his maturation as a player and understanding of the position. The performance certainly kicked off the Justin Hardy to the Queen City campaign bang.
Here's a look at his stat sheet:
Hardy accelerates and feigns a corner feign route, instead button just inside the goal line.
Don’t beat yourself up Panther fans, your next great wide receiver could be right under your nose. Well, 250 miles east under your nose at East Carolina University. Greenville, North Carolina is where NFL recruiters have discovered what two years ago would have been considered a “diamond in the rough.” Enter current ECU Wide Receiver/Punt Returner Justin Hardy. After a jaw dropping sixty-four reception, 658 yard, six touchdown and Conference USA All-Freshman team campaign, Hardy has done nothing but amass two seasons of inspired offensive production—202 receptions and 2,389 yards, averaging over a first down every time he catches the ball and let’s not forget those nineteen touchdowns. Consistent play like this has elevated the 6’1 190 lb Hardy off the list of NFL possible gems and onto a lot of NFL recruiter’s top wide receiver’s board for the 2015 draft.
|Hardy catching TD on Panther CB Melvin White|
LIVE MONDAY, 4/28 @10 PM!
BACKYARD BALLER JIMMY "INSTINCT" LEGREE
When he came out of high school, he was either a 2- or 3-star recruit. Translation: decent player but probably won't be a star.
Inserted as the starting free safety in 2011 after a strong 2-pick showing in the spring game, Legree struggled and after two games the young player was used on special teams and from the bench.
In 2012, he moved to the cornerback position and that's where he hit his stride. Not letting his uneven play from 2011 keep him down, he got back up and went right at it with gusto. It didn't take him long to prove to the Head Ball Coach that he could cover wide receivers and appeared in every game since then, sharing time at the position with teammate Akeem Auguste.
You've gotta admire a guy who faces adversity, gets knocked down, gets back up, and is better than ever for it. It demonstrates character, resilience, and a can-do attitude that every NFL team desires in their players.
He had 44 tackles and 3 interceptions in 2012, leading the team in the latter category for the season. He also had his first career interception, a pick-6 against East Carolina University. Quite fitting that he "pilfered the Pirates" on that play, I'd say! He also had a couple of long returns on other interceptions but didn't find the end zone other than the 34-yarder against ECU.
So the story goes, he had his best game against a Georgia team favored to beat USC, but partially due to Legree's blanket coverage that game, Georgia QB Aaron Murray found the slogging tough and the Carolina Gamecocks found themselves a win.
In 2013, he increased his tackle total to 55, notched three more interceptions, and showed better ability to play the run.
That's another thing coaches absolutely love - a guy who learns and broadens his game as he gains experience. As such, he had his finest play of his career on jumping a slant-route intended for Jordan Cunningham late in the Vanderbilt game, conserving a ten point lead for Carolina.
Now, he's hoping to get drafted in the deepest overall NFL draft class in over a decade. Whether or not he's chosen in the draft, one thing is for sure.
NFL scouts and coaches at least know who he is.
Follow me on Twitter @Ken_Dye
Backyard Baller: Bruce Ellington
Brandon Thomas, Clemson LT.
We've all heard of Clemson University's Sammy Watkins of course. He's considered the top prospect in the entire nation at wide receiver and in a class replete with talent at the position. He and in-state rival Jadeveon Clowney get all the (non-quarterback) press, and frankly it's unusual for the state of South Carolina to have so much attention on multiple kids heading into the draft.
UPDATE 4/8/14 - Brandon Thomas tore his ACL in training and will miss any football action for 2014.
I still stand by my previous articles and think the Panthers need to draft Offensive Linemen back to back in the first two rounds. We need guys to protect Cam Newton and provide a safety net in case of injuries.
Obviously, if Sammy Watkins is available when the Panthers take their 28th pick in first round, no questions draft and sign him, but won’t be the case. In the third round, I can see the Panthers considering a wide receiver. If he is still available, I like the kid out of South Carolina, Bruce Ellington. The later rounds are when it gets tricky and more important. Beyond the fourth round is when teams show who did their homework and try to draft the sleeper that will positively affect the team come the start of training camp and ultimately the season.
Added to his quickness, Campanaro is remarkably agile. If he catches the ball in space, he can run guys over, but more often just make them miss. He frequently dances around for extra yardage, but also isn’t afraid to tuck the ball barrel into the defense. In 2012 he had the lowest average yards per catch with 9.7 yards. Even in his worst year his average yards per catch would get the team inches from the first down marker.