120 Players To Know - Ole Miss DE Greg Hardy
Ole Miss DE Greg Hardy
Ole Miss DE Greg Hardy
Posted Mar 18, 2009

Who are the players you need to know about? Maybe they've been under the radar, or maybe they're the future NFL stars who'll be a really big deal next April. Get to know the stars of 2009 as CFN profiles 120 Players You Need To Know over 120 days (one for each team) continuing with Ole Miss DE Greg Hardy.

120 Players You Need To Know

Ole Miss DE Greg Hardy

By Pete Fiutak 

Who is Greg Hardy? ... For all the problems Ole Miss had under former head coach Ed Orgeron, the guy recruited his tail off. While his strength was putting together great lines, his best pitch job came to make a basketball player a full-time football star.

Ole Miss had two defensive ends who were athletic enough to be enforcers on the Rebel basketball team, Kentrell Lockett and Greg Hardy. Lockett was supposed to grow into an all-star football player, considering he was brought to Oxford as a top-shelf defensive end recruit, but it was Hardy who stole the show.

Like Lockett, Hardy came to Ole Miss to play football, and he just so happened to be good enough to be a backup on the hoops team. The 6-4, 265-pounder grew into an unstoppable pass rusher and a devastating game-changer when he got on a roll. Not only was he growing into a star defensive force, but he also saw time on the offense as a tight end
scoring three times over the last two years. While it might be tempting to use him as much as possible in several ways, his bread will be buttered as a pass rusher.

"Greg is a very, very special player,” said head coach Houston Nutt. “He has all the strength, size and quickness you look for to get to the quarterback. He is a ferocious pass rusher."

Ferocious, and for good and bad, streaky. Hurt early on last year with a foot problem, he only played meaningful minutes in eight games and he still came up with 8.5 sacks.

Hardy's best game so far was ... It was the game that put Hardy on the map. Alabama came up with a heart-wrenching 27-24 win over the Rebels in October of 2007, but it was Hardy who had the SEC buzzing with his 13 tackle, 4.5 tackle-for-loss, three sack day with two forced fumbles, a batted down pass, and another quarterback hurry.
Why you should care about Greg Hardy ... When he stunningly decided to return for his senior season, he instantly made Ole Miss a true player in the SEC race. While the Rebels are good, and they would’ve been solid if Hardy had gone to the next level, there are few players who can do all the things Hardy does to get into the backfield. He’ll demand double teaming on every play. That still might not be enough.

Hardy’s Pro Potential ... The NFL tends to like very big, very athletic pass rushers who can change a game with one play. He likely would’ve been a late first round pick had he come out this season, and certainly a top 50 selection, but he could be a top 15 pick if he has a big senior year. He has to prove he can stay healthy and he’ll have to generate a buzz by putting up some big numbers in the biggest games.

Negatives about Hardy ... The injury issues will raise a red flag. He’s been able to play through some of the problems, but the foot injury has been limiting. While he’s been fine off the field over the last year, he was suspended for a stretch in his sophomore season. On the field, he has been productive over the last few years whenever he’s been on the field, but he’ll have to prove he can be consistently strong against the run at a high level. He’ll also have to show he can get the motor running full tilt all the time after disappearing for stretches over the last few years.

A cool thing about Hardy that you probably didn't know ... He was an all-state Tennessee high school basketball player. The best game of his Ole Miss hoops career came against eventual national champion, Florida, with six rebounds and four points.

Career statistics
2006: 49 tackles, 3 sacks, 5 tackles for loss, one catch for 23 yards and a touchdown
2007: 36 tackles, 10 sacks, 18.5 tackles for loss, two catches for 19 yards and two touchdowns
2008: 18 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 9.5 tackles for loss, 1 interception

Statistics, information and photo provided by the Ole Miss sports information department.