Hardesty impresses NFL scouts with combine numbers

Tailback ‘showed that I'm a complete back'

Imagine Montario Hardesty — the NFL prospect — a year ago.

Would he have been selected in the NFL draft? Sure, he had performed admirably at Tennessee, overcoming one leg injury after another. But was he really an NFL tailback?

Fast forward to 2010. There are no such questions.

Hardesty is a bona fide pro prospect, especially after his showing at the NFL combine in Indianapolis.

Among running backs, the 6-foot, 225-pound Hardesty was first in the vertical and broad jump, third in the cone run, 20-yard and 60-yard shuttle and sixth in the 40-yard dash (4.49 seconds).

“All my personal goals that I had set for myself, I pretty much surpassed them,” said Hardesty, who lamented that his 40 time wasn’t a bit faster but was pleased with his above average broad jump.

“I had some good drills, showing them that I was explosive,” he said.

Even though the 40 time rated lower than his other performances, it may be the one that proved most to NFL scouts, who were concerned about his speed. Pass-catching drills also were a plus.

“I wanted to show that I could run with the smaller backs and that I also have great hands out of the backfield,” Hardesty said.

Despite a deep draft for running backs, NFL draft analyst Michael Lombardi of The National Football Post said Hardesty stood out.

“Ultimately, he’s alerted people that he’s a really talented player,” Lombardi said. “He can put his foot in the ground. He can make moves. He can burst off of cuts.”

Lombardi said Hardesty has proven he’s a “three-play back,” that he can pass protect, catch the ball and run.

“I just really feel like I’m one of the top backs out there,” Hardesty said. “I feel like I’m one of the most complete backs. That’s not to be conceited about my game, but I feel like that I went out there and showed that I’m a complete back. I definitely want to be one of the top backs chosen. We’ll see how that goes in April.”

April 23, the second day of the NFL draft, is likely when the next round of nerves will come. Hardesty experienced plenty of anxious moments in the combine.

“You’re definitely nervous, man. You’re nervous the whole time,” he said. “It’s always been my dream to play in the NFL, so it was like the biggest job interview of your life. You pretty much only have one chance to nail everything so you’ve got to be on top of your game.”

Hardesty isn’t concerned about projections. He’ll leave that to the experts, most of who believe he’ll be a mid-rounder, possibly as high as the second round.

“There’s been a lot of buzz about how I performed in the combine,” Hardesty said. “People tell me my stock is going up, but I can’t really (listen) to that. I’ve just got to perform and take advantage of everything. Let my agent handle everything like that.”

Hardesty said he’ll participate in some individual drills for UT’s Pro Day on March 17.

He should feel comfortable on campus. His rushed for 1,345 yards and caught 25 passes for 305 yards during his senior season.

“It definitely helped a lot to be able to be the guy — making plays the way I did … It was just good for me that I was able to be a leader for this team and those guys trusted me with the ball in my hands,” Hardesty said.

Leg injuries at UT have long been a downer for any conversation concerning Hardesty’s future. He said that wasn’t the case at the combine.

“There’s a whole medical (evaluation),” he said. “The doctors touch and feel on you to make sure everything’s good. I feel like I passed all the medical stuff. All the injuries were a long time ago.

“That’s why I did everything at the combine, to show those guys that the injuries are behind me.”

Lombardi compared Hardesty to Curtis Martin, another oft-injured college player, who eventually had a distinguished NFL career.

“He proved people wrong,” Lombardi said, “because he was talented.”

Hardesty is determined to do the same.

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Comments » 65

runninbroke writes:

Considering the sometimes suspect offensive line, and the errant quarterback play at the first of the year, I think Hardesty had a great year. He ran when there was no secret what we were going to call. A great runner with great vision. Best of luck MH!!

miatatom writes:

Good luck, Montario. Make us proud.

AppreciativeAlum writes:

I don't see how the NFL even needs all these gym numbers, when they look at number of touches and number of fumbles that should be enough.

BankerVol writes:

Here's to wishing Montario BEST of LUCK!!! And thanks to you Hooker for not giving your man crush the credit for Hardesty's success. I read with one eye squinting and the one closed just knowing I would see the "K" love. I don't hate you today.

steamboatticket#484773 writes:

It'd be way cool to see Montario getting the recognition that he truly deserves, with a high draft selection. I really hope that he goes to a very well managed team that will be good for his career. Wherever he goes, there will always be a lot of love for Hardesty from Tennessee.

VOLHolla writes:

This kids got heart period. The only way to measure and test that is on the field - He passed with flying colors.

I am a big fan of #2 - He will have many more fans on Sundays.

AtLeastMyTeamHasPerfectSeasons writes:

MH looked focused at the combine, got positive comments everytime he showed his stuff on TV. This guy showed what it means to be a true VOLUNTEER and stuck in there through injuries and coaching changes to perhaps be one of the top players on this generations list of favorite players. Good luck and give 'em heck!

AWOLVol writes:

Good Luck Montario! You've always been a loyal Vol and we love you for it!!!

I also find this article reassuring as to why highly touted - and obviously talented - Brice Brown found it difficult to get a lot of touches this past season. I guess it's not that he's not what we hoped when he signed so much as he was playing behind an NFL-caliber tailback! That's reassuring...

Volin68 writes:

Montariooooooooo! Good luck young man!

Fryinpansvols writes:

I posted something about Montario the other day in the Eric Berry blog at the NFL combine. Whoever gets this guy for their NFL team, well they are getting a steal. This guy plays with heart and determination and goes hard every play. Hardesty is one of my favorite vols to ever wear the colors orange and white. Good luck at the next level Mr. Hardesty. GBO!

Give_Him_6_Holloway writes:

The man is about to join a long list of strong UT running backs to make an impact in the NFL. The man has heart. If only he had been able to carry the rock as the main man the prior two years, we would have probably taken a game or two from Florida. Instead, we were stuck with Fumblina.

Thank you, Montario, for staying the course and showing your character.

huntined#565710 writes:

Some NFL team will get a great deal with this young man.. He won't let them down.

dfreeman writes:

Yeah Hardesty has been one of my favorites! I would have loved to have seen what he would have done without the injuries! Good luck Montario! You deserve everything you're gonna get! You took nothing for granted and made the most of the opportunity when it was finally given to you!! I look forward to seeing you on Sundays!

vol_till_i_die writes:

good luck montario! you are one of my all time favorites and you deserve to be successful!

out_of_town_vol_fan writes:

Good luck Montario! I will never forget that sweet spin move in the black jerseys against the Gamecocks! That was AWWWWWESOME! We're gonna miss ya man!

hcjournals#206623 writes:

He will be an impact player in the NFL. He is strong, determined and has the heart. Could easily be in the rookie of the year running next year. Will represent us very well in the years to come. If Bryce works as hard as he did, he will be great as well......

utrxlax writes:

I think they're wrong, but an article on SI.com lists hardesty as one of 12 players who need to improve their status at pro day.

Here's a link:
http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010...

If link doesn't work, just go to the nfl page of si.com

LiveFaith writes:

Best #2 Vol since the great Eric Locke. :-D

rockytopatl writes:

I always loved how hard Montario hit the hole -- such a contrast to Foster who always looked to avoid contact. Life is a bunch of maybes, but had Hardesty not been nicked up so often and had he played behind some better lines, he would have been one of, if not the best Vol back ever.

VolAlum2003 (Inactive) writes:

I would love to see Montario get picked up by the Titans and replace White as a 3rd down back. Despite Lombardi thinking that he's a 3-play back, I always thought Hardesty's greatest talent was his ability to tack on two yards to a play that should have died at the line of scrimmage. That is exactly what the Titans need and I wouldn't put it past fisher to draft him in the third round.

TitanandVolfan4life writes:

I'd much rather have him as a Titan than Lendale White too.

He'd be the perfect hard running RB to give CJ a breather and he always seemed to get the extra yard or 2 after the 1st hit.

Best of success to you young man and THANKS for your dedication to our Big Orange traditions.

GO BIG ORANGE !!!

Ringside writes:

Good read fron the Orlando Sentinel on Urban Meyer and his "so-called stress"

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/sports...

gnm53108 writes:

in response to VolAlum2003:

I would love to see Montario get picked up by the Titans and replace White as a 3rd down back. Despite Lombardi thinking that he's a 3-play back, I always thought Hardesty's greatest talent was his ability to tack on two yards to a play that should have died at the line of scrimmage. That is exactly what the Titans need and I wouldn't put it past fisher to draft him in the third round.

I'm with ya.Montario would be a steal in the 3rd and would love to see him in Nashville.

Just dont think he'll make it to the 3rd round.

gnm53108 writes:

in response to Ringside:

Good read fron the Orlando Sentinel on Urban Meyer and his "so-called stress"

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/sports...

"In the last couple of months — ever since tightly wound University of Florida football coach Urban Meyer's resignation/leave-of-absence/long weekend"

Haha

Thanks Ring

Madkels writes:

in response to AppreciativeAlum:

I don't see how the NFL even needs all these gym numbers, when they look at number of touches and number of fumbles that should be enough.

Well, lets see. You own a business and are about to invest millions of dollars. Do you make a call based on some data from last fall or do you take the date from last fall and the NFL combine before you COMPLETELY evaluate the prospect?

But the one thing you gotta consider is heart. I believe Hardesty will do great in the NFL provided he stays healthy. He has the heart, determination, and perseverence to overcome and do great things.

gnm53108 writes:

in response to DC_10point0:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Your bait is getting beter dc.

I'm still gonna pass.

Cash writes:

Hardesty has turned out to be one of the best backs to come out of UT. He is truly a Volunteer. He'll have a good if not great NFL career.

I hope he wears #2 in the pros.

nwcs writes:

Good luck MH!

OrangeCrush writes:

The play or game that stands out with Hardesty was the Cal game here in 2007 where it looked like he was tackled for a short gain, and then "BUSTED IT" outside for a TD!!!

Folks, now that was awesome!

BrewerTL writes:

Make Eastern NC and the Vols proud! Good luck, MH.

CrankE writes:

If anybody can do it, Montario can. This kid hit the hole hard, expecting-almost welcoming contact. He's a guy who can lower his head and pick up 2 yards on a 4th an 1. He protects the ball, he can help his QB by catching the short pass out of the backfield. He has the attitude, the heart, and the ability. In the mold of John Henry, Lord what a hammer-swinger!

Kick some, Montario!

BrewerTL writes:

in response to DC_10point0:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I don't think he's bashing UF specifically. I think he's after the highly paid college head coaches and the media hacks who feel sorry for them in general. He's just using Urban's very public issues (Urban MADE them public, by the way) to point out who REALLY is under stress these days. It's rough out there right now and an unemployed parent with exhausted savings is indeed under more stress than Coach UM.

Gumby#1381110 writes:

I think Montario will be successful in the NFL.

FearTheVols1252 writes:

in response to RichRollin:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I agree 100%! Florida had a LOT of great players and TONS of depth, yet they still couldn’t win the SEC or NC. We had a FEW great players NO depth. You need to be a little realistic when setting expectations. As members of the SEC, nobody here loves 7-6 seasons, but we walked away with more wins than losses and gave some highly ranked teams a run for their money. All-in-all… it was an exciting season to say the least. Not great, but exciting.

volman81 writes:

While I would love to see Hardesty come to the Titans, I hope he goes to someone that fits his style of play. After all he has been through here I hope he makes it to someone whose offense matches up with his strengths. He would have been a sure first round pick if he would not have had all the injuries and if Fulmer would have played him in front of Foster. If he never got injured who knows. I believe he did start a couple games his Freshman season. Hopefully he will get to someone whose offense relies on zone blocking like we did this season. Everyone saw the results. He is definitely a punishing runner who hits the hole hard, makes one cut, and if no one is there he is gone. Don't listen to some SI.com sportswriter who couldn't hack it themselves. All the other articles I have seen said he improved his stock after the combine. Everyone who don't believe in him should just put in his game film and watch. You will see an NFL star if he can stay healthy like he did this year. Hopefully he can win a starting job in the next two seasons and get a big payday on his second contract since he is not going in the first round. Zone blocking schemes is what Shannahan used in Denver when he could put anyone back there and make them a star. I believe he would be a good fit for Washington if they can get there offensive line fixed. Also, I believe the Texans use zone blocking, not sure who else. The Titans have a great line and he could probably do well here, but hopefully he gets to where he can succeed.

FearTheVols1252 writes:

in response to DC_10point0:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I think in some cases our defense underachieved (i.e. Ole Miss, Ohio, and Virginia Tech), but in others I think they overachieved (i.e. Florida, Bama, South Carolina, and Georgia). I still think depth had a lot to do with our inconsistencies. And once we started losing linebackers to injury, you could see a pretty distinct difference in our defensive performance.

volfanew writes:

MH ran with what my HS coach and former Vol Jack Patterson called "reckless abandon." Loved watching this young man hit a hole. Good luck to you!

OldVol_75 writes:

in response to Madkels:

Well, lets see. You own a business and are about to invest millions of dollars. Do you make a call based on some data from last fall or do you take the date from last fall and the NFL combine before you COMPLETELY evaluate the prospect?

But the one thing you gotta consider is heart. I believe Hardesty will do great in the NFL provided he stays healthy. He has the heart, determination, and perseverence to overcome and do great things.

Let's see- I can use these gym numbers or I can watch hours and hours of game films to see how he actually performed in game situations. I can use these gym numbers or I can trust my scouts that I pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to rate these players. I can use these gym numbers or use the gym numbers that I'm going to get when I go to these player's pro days. I can use these gym numbers AND then go draft somebody that doesn't have any gym numbers because he wasn't even invited to the combine. Sorry, the combine is useless except to give the NFL channel something to report on instead of showing a 20 year old championship game. It used to keep scouts and management from travelling so much before almost all college games were taped from so many angles. Today its used so the coaches and scouts can go set on their arse and let someone else do all the work.

BigDaddyVol writes:

4.49 at 225 lbs...Best vertical and broad jump of all the backs at the combine...that will take your stock up....good job MH...

FearTheVols1252 writes:

in response to DC_10point0:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

No… you’re not hearing me. What you’re essentially saying is that a 7-6 team with less than a handful of great players should have performed better had it not been for Kiffin and papa Kiffin’s bad coaching. And what I’m saying is that regardless of the coach, we didn’t have enough depth on the team to achieve any kind of stellar season, so why should anyone be surprised over a 7-6 record?!? You mentioned a senior O-line, yet we had 2 walk-ons as starters. You mentioned a senior QB, who just learned how to throw a ball this year. And yet, we should have had high expectations??

Also, I’m not referencing any other season but last. Florida’s 2009 team was built up in the media as ‘the greatest team in the history of college football’. And by all statistical means, they should have been. Why? Because you had a SLEW of talent returning and TONS of depth, yet Florida still couldn’t go all the way this past season. So why would you be shocked that a team with FAR less talent and FAR less depth finish 7-6?!? Your logic doesn’t make sense. You mention that UT might have as many first-rounders in the draft this year as Florida. Perhaps… but I’ll be willing to bet that Florida will have FAR more players being drafted overall.

Lastly, yes, I hate Kiffin for what he did, and I certainly wish he approached certain situations differently. But you know what… at the end of the day I’m still a UT fan… regardless of who the coach is, and I will support them no matter what. You almost make it sound as though we as Vol fans should have known better and should have turned our backs on our team because of Kiffin. Well, I’m not that kind of fan. Just as I’m sure you didn’t turn your back on your team even though you knew Zook was a horrible head coach!

UTVOLSRROCKN writes:

in response to volman81:

While I would love to see Hardesty come to the Titans, I hope he goes to someone that fits his style of play. After all he has been through here I hope he makes it to someone whose offense matches up with his strengths. He would have been a sure first round pick if he would not have had all the injuries and if Fulmer would have played him in front of Foster. If he never got injured who knows. I believe he did start a couple games his Freshman season. Hopefully he will get to someone whose offense relies on zone blocking like we did this season. Everyone saw the results. He is definitely a punishing runner who hits the hole hard, makes one cut, and if no one is there he is gone. Don't listen to some SI.com sportswriter who couldn't hack it themselves. All the other articles I have seen said he improved his stock after the combine. Everyone who don't believe in him should just put in his game film and watch. You will see an NFL star if he can stay healthy like he did this year. Hopefully he can win a starting job in the next two seasons and get a big payday on his second contract since he is not going in the first round. Zone blocking schemes is what Shannahan used in Denver when he could put anyone back there and make them a star. I believe he would be a good fit for Washington if they can get there offensive line fixed. Also, I believe the Texans use zone blocking, not sure who else. The Titans have a great line and he could probably do well here, but hopefully he gets to where he can succeed.

Former Vol and GB player Chad Clifton is in Washington DC today...talking to the Redskins, but his dream job is to move back to TN and play for the Titans!
BTW, Thanks KNS for FINALLY removing ALL pictures of the Liar from your home page. I did notice it yesterday and I just wanted to say Thank you, thank you, thank you very much!!!!

Hardesty, I will be watching you on Sundays...one of my all time favorites! Good luck and stay healthy!!!

givehim6 writes:

Didn't Jamal Lewis have many injures at UT, but after he got to the NFL that's when he really shined. Could be the same with Hardesty.

Gumby#1381110 writes:

in response to volfanew:

MH ran with what my HS coach and former Vol Jack Patterson called "reckless abandon." Loved watching this young man hit a hole. Good luck to you!

I recall early on, just after the season was over, many so called experts were saying MH didn't have what it took to be a starter in the NFL. I believe MH will prove them all wrong. I believe he will be a 3rd or 4th round pick, a real steal for some team, but who knows, maybe his great showing in the combines might get him picked the first 2 rounds. Good luck Montario!

RoadTrip writes:

Montarioooooo!

Can't wait to see you with the ball in your hands playing with the big dogs.

TNLawVol writes:

in response to Cash:

Hardesty has turned out to be one of the best backs to come out of UT. He is truly a Volunteer. He'll have a good if not great NFL career.

I hope he wears #2 in the pros.

Unlikely. He would have to appeal since #2 is outside the standard numbering for running backs. Same thing that happened to Reggie Bush a couple of years ago.

Gumby#1381110 writes:

Sorry to change the subject but has anyone noticed the sun is out. YEEESSS! How people survive up north I'll never know!

sandiegovolunteer writes:

Oh make my day Chargers!! Take this guy!!! He will help heal the loss of losing LT!!

hueypilot writes:

in response to OldVol_75:

Let's see- I can use these gym numbers or I can watch hours and hours of game films to see how he actually performed in game situations. I can use these gym numbers or I can trust my scouts that I pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to rate these players. I can use these gym numbers or use the gym numbers that I'm going to get when I go to these player's pro days. I can use these gym numbers AND then go draft somebody that doesn't have any gym numbers because he wasn't even invited to the combine. Sorry, the combine is useless except to give the NFL channel something to report on instead of showing a 20 year old championship game. It used to keep scouts and management from travelling so much before almost all college games were taped from so many angles. Today its used so the coaches and scouts can go set on their arse and let someone else do all the work.

Somewhat agree with you Old Vol. However "gym" numbers are probably useful when looking at a Mount Union kid like Pierre-Garcon, or a Jerry Rice from Ft. Valley State, but since a guy like Hardesty played against the guys from UCLA, Florida, Georgia, and Alabama that he'll see on Sunday, probably a good test is how he did against them. Kinda like the old question of how will Herschel Walker do since he came from a small classification high school. Okay, bad analogy. But you get my drift.

tmartin writes:

I just wish he was as good as Arian Foster!

Gumby#1381110 writes:

TGIF!!!!!

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