All-star game gets Hardy noticed (Football)

February 4, 2011

Daniel Hardy

Taking his first true step to the next level, Daniel Hardy of Anchorage will play in Saturday’s NFLPA College All-Star Game at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

It’ll be his final college experience after wrapping up a successful career at the University of Idaho.

The all-star game will provide an opportunity for current and former players to be involved in coaching and mentoring draft prospects like the 22-year-old Hardy, who dreams of playing in the NFL.

“It’s so hard to make the league,” he told me. “They help you put yourself in the best position for it, especially for us guys coming from smaller schools that have a chance to get more notoriety, I guess. It’s definitely a blessing and I think we’re all taking advantage of the opportunity.”

Hardy, of West High fame, established himself last year as one of college football’s top tight ends before a broken arm sidelined him the final month of the season. He still managed 32-545-1 totals in eight games and was a semifinalist for the Mackey Award.

In 27 career games, the 6-foot-4, 245-pound playmaker made 80 catches for 1,364 yards and 6 TDs.

Hardy arrived in Texas early this week to participate in practice and conduct interviews with NFL scouts.

“They ask questions to get a good judge on your character, your background,” he said. “It really is a business and you really have to think about it in a professional sense when you get to that next level. Who you represent kind of rubs off on the organization and so you want to present yourself in the best light.

“For me, it was kind of easy. My parents raised me to be a humble person and I think I come off pretty straightforward, so I just try to be myself and have fun with it.”

Once he gets back on the field, though, the focus will be on the game.

“This is why you put in all those hours working out and training and studying plays,” Hardy said of an all-star invitation. “I try to have fun with everything I do. I’m serious about my training. I’m serious when I play the game, but you always want to enjoy the little things.”

Unlike most of the other guys who played in bowl games, Hardy hadn’t been in pads since October.

“When I put them on for the first time Tuesday it almost felt like the first day of fall camp for me,” he said. “I was a little rusty on some things, but we had our third practice (Thursday) and it was crisp. I’m feeling really good. I’ve been training real hard, so I’m in good shape. That’s not an issue.”

Hardy will wear jersey No. 84, the same number he wore at West High.

It’s fitting since it all started here. In fact, wherever he goes he’s known as the guy from Alaska.

That’s just fine with him.

“It’s been fun getting to meet people from all over the country,” Hardy said. “We just went to Denny’s with some offensive lineman. One guy was from Utah, another was from Kansas. It’s been great building new relationships and everybody really has the same goals and dreams … it’s great to be in a setting like that. We’re all enjoying it.”