Hardesty at work, welcomes challenge

Kiffin says tailback 'one of the leaders'

Tailback Montario Hardesty has rushed for 1,046 yards in his Tennessee career.

That's almost 1,000 more than all of Tennessee's other prospects for the 2008 season combined.

Sophomore Tauren Poole has 86 rushing yards while 2009 signees Toney Williams, Bryce Brown and David Oku have yet to play in a college football game.

Yet, it's Hardesty who so many fans believe will eventually find the bench.

"Fans are fans," the senior said after Friday's scrimmage. "Fans are always excited about new things happening and new things coming in. I just want to let my play on the field speak for itself."

Hardesty's play is speaking volumes. His approach to spring practice screams of his maturity.

"I think he's really one of the leaders of our team," first-year coach Lane Kiffin said. "I haven't talked about leadership much because it will take awhile. (But) he does everything we ask. He comes out here every single day with the same attitude.

"He loves playing ball. He studies, keeps his mouth shut and goes to work."

The leg injuries that plagued Hardesty's career appear to be a thing of the past as the North Carolinian looks as quick and as fast as ever.

"I feel good," said Hardesty, who rushed eight times for 38 yards during Friday's scrimmage. "Just trying to make some plays."

Hardesty is as confident as he's ever been. Sitting behind departed senior Arian Foster was never easy.

Now Hardesty is the veteran trying to lead his teammates.

"I just try to go out there and just go hard every day," Hardesty said. "I want to set an example for the younger guys. I think that's why Tauren Poole is coming on strong."

Onlookers won't see much more of Hardesty this spring. He's proved his worth to a coaching staff with sky-high standards.

"I'm not concerned with how physical he is because I know he can run the ball physical," Kiffin said. "He's showed us that. He doesn't need a million carries.

"He looked quick today. I think you're seeing some of that because he's not getting banged up as much."

Kiffin's final goal for Hardesty this spring is to get the 6-foot, 212-pounder more involved in UT's passing game. Hardesty welcomes the challenge.

"I always feel like if you give me the ball in space, I'll make things happen," said Hardesty, who had two receptions for 22 yards Friday.

Making things happen for his team is Hardesty's primary goal. Sure, he'd like to be the starter and rush for a ton of yards, but that's not the goal Hardesty has in sight.

"All the other stuff could be thrown to the back burner as long as we go to the SEC championship game," he said.

Injury Report: Kiffin said senior defensive lineman Wes Brown's knee injury likely will keep him out of the remainder of spring drills and could require surgery.

The injury is thought to be the same lingering ligament ailment that hampered Brown's production last season.

Tight end Jeff Cottam did not practice. The senior is suffering from a concussion and is "day-to-day" according to Kiffin.

Receiver Gerald Jones had an ice wrap on his right hand after practice. The junior said he injured the hand about two weeks ago.

"I thought I jammed it but it's probably a little more than a jam," Jones said. "I don't like going to the training room."

Jones said no fracture was found during an X-ray. The ailment could have contributed to some recent, uncharacteristic dropped passes by Jones.

Visitors: UT played host todefensive end commitment Jacques Smith from Ooltewah High School and offensive tackle Marcus Stone from Maplewood High School in Nashville.

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Comments » 31

GahLee writes:

Hardesty can be the man...he has good vision and can hit the corner and he runs with power...we got a lot riding on him in my opinion.

GahLee writes:

Who thinks that Hardesty will find the bench? I expect him to carry the ball 150-200 times this year, with the other guys in the stable picking up the rest of the load. He can be a huge asset to us.

teampenny#658108 writes:

Bad news about Brown-hate to see anyone with an injury. Sounds like one of the freshman RB will be need quick. Go vols

GahLee writes:

Nice to see some recruits in town, especially 2 guys who play in the trenches. I would like to see UT get some more verbals than they have at this point but it is a long process and as we all seen last year, verbals mean nothing.

GahLee writes:

in response to Plasticman:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Would love for us to run the ball that much, just take the passing game down to it's most simple form of obvious passing situations and the occasional play-action deep route...if UT runs this ball this much, we will have a pretty good year.

GahLee writes:

What are the expectations for Bryce this year, 100 carries? 150 carries? Or will he be so dynamic that he is a workhorse for us and carries the ball 25 times a game? I've seen so many freshmen RB come in and be dominant. We are so deep at RB it's really hard to say what will happen with our stable of guys...of course that is a problem you want...Go Vols!!!

JMP_Vols writes:

If he stays healthy, he'll rush for 1,000 yards this year.
If he stays healthy.

GahLee writes:

The only way I see him getting 1,000 yards this year is if he averages 5 yards or more a carry, I just can't see him getting more than 200 carries with the rest of the guys we have to help carry the load.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

Tough, tough runner, goes North and South.

Avoid the injury bug and he'll be more than fine.

Saw where Foster is projected 7th round.

miamiVOL writes:

I like Hardesty but vision is not one of his strengths, he runs a punishing down-hill style, albeit sometimes its into the hole and other times it into the back of his teammates. Would be nice to see him catch some swings and screen passes, something we havent seen before while he has been at UT.

bigorangesob writes:

If Hardesty stays healthly and the O line can make some holes I think he can have a really big year

vol_chaz writes:

Fans think he'll find the bench? The writer doesn't read the same blogs I do then.. Montario just needs to stay healthy for once..and he should have a monster year...

stayingorange writes:

Stone should have seen great opportunity watching the O-line today based on the reports from the scrimmage. Smith seems to be delivering on his pledge to work hard to help recruit. Stone would be a rock solid pickup.

RockinTopATL writes:

So, with Hardesty, Poole, and Williams already in the backfield, what do you guys think the chances Oku and/or B. Brown will ask to be redshirted?

SignalMtnVol writes:

"Yet, it's Hardesty who so many fans believe will eventually find the bench."

What fans? Everyone I've seen on here pretty much agree Hardesty will be the man this year, as long as he stays healthy. Don't get me wrong, Poole, Williams, Brown, and Oku all have huge upsides. I do firmly believe all will get PT this year, but Hardesty will be the starter.

JMP_Vols writes:

in response to RockinTopATL:

So, with Hardesty, Poole, and Williams already in the backfield, what do you guys think the chances Oku and/or B. Brown will ask to be redshirted?

I think if any of the three freshmen redshirt, it would be Williams.

Can't see Oku or Brown redshirting.

MidTennVol writes:

Bummer about Wes Brown. Hope he can get that fixed ASAP. He's a player we need.

Hardesty won my heart with that bull run he made against Cal a few years ago -- he was hit at the line of scrimmage, wrapped up in a scrum, but never stopped pumping, and broke loose for a 50- or 60-yard TD.

He's a bull rusher and he's earned his scar tissue. Hope he can stay healthy and finally has an O-line that can open some holes for him. Would love to see him flatten some LBs (like that Spikes guy from FL.)

xvolx writes:

If they are counting on Hardesty, they will be walking backwards.

suPEARLman writes:

in response to GahLee:

Who thinks that Hardesty will find the bench? I expect him to carry the ball 150-200 times this year, with the other guys in the stable picking up the rest of the load. He can be a huge asset to us.

I don't know which fans KNS is talking to, but it clearly isn't the ones with any sense. Hardesty should and will be the starter and primary back. Hopefully he rubs off some of that leadership and discipline on the new guys coming in.

GO VOLS!!!!

douglasawilliams#582863 writes:

in response to JMP_Vols:

I think if any of the three freshmen redshirt, it would be Williams.

Can't see Oku or Brown redshirting.

I really hope none of our offensive recruits redshirt. We really do need them all this season. Not going to press the panick button but usually the weaknesses in spring ball spill over to the season. Hardesty is a good back and team player. He doesn't have the big play potential though that Creer had and possibly Poole possesses. He does however fumble seldom and that that is an underrated statistic. With the offense we will have we can't turn the ball over and beat good teams.

VolFanNC writes:

Hardesty will be the starter if he stays healthy. I don't look for Brown to get a lot of carries until the 4th or 5th game unless he ocmes into Fall camp and blows everyone away. I am just not sure he will do so until he gets used to the schemes. Either way I think they need Hardesty to be a team leader at the beginning of the season.

I really like the combo in their right now. Hardesty to start, Williams as another big back to give him a breather, Poole as the change of pace and big play back. Would like to See Oku play a lot in the slot and Brown get into the mix as the season gets moving especially be the time we play Ga.

TD_4_UT writes:

Hardesty will be the "main man", but I think what we will see is a lot of different looks at RB. Each has their own style,speed,cuts. This will help intimidate other defenses & make those 1st downs we lacked last year.

marvinVol writes:

Hell fire! Here we are debating whether or not some of the 4 and 5 *s should redshirt. What a great bunch of guys we have in the RB site!
Can't wait till O&W!

Go Vols!!!

BigVolFaninSC writes:

I too hope that Hardesty can stay healthy this year. If he does, then I see big things for him and the offense this year (assuming the BIG boys up front open the holes) as we will need a good running attack to take pressure off the passing game. And with the new kids coming in...WOW!...Help me get over these football withdrawals!!!! GO VOLS!!!!

elchichon writes:

I thought that Hardesty should have been starting over Foster last year anyway. Then again, that's why there's a new sheriff in town.

elchichon writes:

in response to TD_4_UT:

Hardesty will be the "main man", but I think what we will see is a lot of different looks at RB. Each has their own style,speed,cuts. This will help intimidate other defenses & make those 1st downs we lacked last year.

i.e. the Auburn game last year... one first down would have gotten us at least a field goal, defense holds, Vols win.

ourfourboyz#480227 writes:

the boy is a beast but has had the injury bug not to mention waiting on a.f.to finally use the last of his days under fulmer didn't matter who was best glad that phooey's over now hardesty can finally show the sec what i've known for years with the kids behind him giving breaks when needed hardesty will be 1st team all sec write that down

MrBamSeydu writes:

Hey KNS:

It's JAMES STONE not MARCUS STONE.

jimr07 writes:

To:Coach Kiffin
There you have it. Hardesty is to be the starter.

blitzshoot writes:

Would be nice to see some of the freshmen red-shirted.

CT_VOL writes:

The reason folks feel he will hit the bench is because he is accident prone. If/when he get's hurt, we'll need the freshmen backs.

Frank

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