5’11 3/4, 225 pounds | Running back | Tennessee
Acceleration: Hardesty is a one-cut runner who quickly makes a decision and hits the hole. Shows a good power burst through the line. May not have the quickest of feet and doesn’t change direction with ease.
Elusiveness: Is not an incredibly shifty runner. He gets most of his yards based on what his blockers can set up. Doesn’t have the fastest feet and it shows in the open field. Because he doesn’t have the sudden movements of a smaller back, he doesn’t make many defenders miss. Hardesty is more of a fundamentally sound running back who is patient before hitting the hole.
Pass catching: This is an area where Hardesty separates himself from other running backs. He had 25 catches as a senior and is used on more than screens and check down throws. He’s been used in the slot and has solid route running knowledge.
Pass blocking: Is an aware pass blocker with enough smarts to at least get in a blocker’s way. May not be fundamentally sound, but gives a good effort. Needs to stay upright more as he’ll too frequently go after a pass rusher’s feet.
Power: This is Hardesty’s biggest strength. He’s powerful runner and can shrug off arm tackles. Easily can be described as a downhill runner. Displays a strong core and keeps his legs moving to gain extra yards. Could run a little more compact, however.
Size: At 225 pounds on his 5’11 frame, Hardesty has optimal size. He may not be able to get much bigger, but his size is good enough. Strong throughout his frame.
Speed: Hardesty’s playing speed isn’t quite as good as his timed speed. He won’t break a lot of big runs and can be caught from behind.
Vision: The balance Hardesty displays when working through traffic is excellent. Displays good patience waiting behind his offensive line while they make lanes. Doesn’t seem to get flustered when opponents get penetration.
Final word: After sputtering along his first three years at Tennessee, Hardesty came on a senior. He ran for 1,308 yards on hte year and 12 touchdowns. Hardest ran for 2,536 yards in his career on 560 attempts (4.5 avg.). Also had 26 career rushing touchdowns. Finished with 38 career receptions for 405 yards and a touchdown. Twenty-five of his receptions came in 2009.
Hardesty’s best asset is his power. He won’t outrun many opponents, but he can run through them. He rates as high as he does because he combines his power with pass catching ability.
Still, he has an injury history that can’t be ignored. Had a stress fracture in 2008, missed a lot of time in 2007 with ankle sprains and tore his ACL in high school. You also have to question Hardesty’s ordinary play until his senior year.