CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Imagine going through the Draft in your own backyard?
That’s the deal for JaQuan Hardy, who’ll be celebrating just 20 miles away, in his parents’ home on the West Side.
For a player who came out of Westlake High School with zero Division One scholarship offers, and ended up at tiny Tiffin University, that’s an incredible accomplishment.
Of course, the numbers he put up at Tiffin were also incredible, including more than 1500 yards rushing in his final season. And the show he put on at his Pro Day? That impressed a lot of teams.
“I feel like, when it came down to it, I know what I can do, so it really didn’t faze me,” Hardy told me during a zoom interview.
Why would it? He’s trained with a ton of D-1 stars out in Colorado. And he played with and against them in the College Gridiron Showcase.
“When I went to my All-Star games, I was catching the ball, I was running more fluent than some of the D-1 guys out there,” Hardy said. “I was just out there controlling what I can control.”
What he couldn’t control was the pandemic, which wiped out Tiffin’s season in 2020.
“I would say it was a blessing in disguise, but a curse at the same time,” Hardy said. “The reason I would say ‘blessing’ is because I didn’t get to play, obviously, but my body is well. I didn’t have a season, so all I did was work out and get my mind ready, get my body ready. Now, when I say it was a curse, it’s because we didn’t get to play. Obviously, who doesn’t want to play?”
Well, he’ll get to play. Likely as a Day 3 draft pick, otherwise as a free agent. His running style?
“I would say Marshawn Lynch and Barry Sanders put together,” Hardy says.
That’s quite a combination. And as for that Draft Day celebration that I mentioned? It won’t be much. That’s just not JaQuan’s style.
“The only celebration that’s gonna be happening is me going out, working out again, and conditioning,” Hardy says. ”At the end of the day, once I get picked up, the job’s not done.”