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Recruit Report: Austin Hardin, K, Marist

Name: Austin Hardin
High School:
Marist (Atlanta, GA)
Verbally committed to Florida

Last Wednesday, Lorenzo Phillips became the twelfth member of Florida’s 2012 recruiting class. This Wednesday, Austin Hardin became lucky number 13 when he committed to the Gators immediately following a scholarship offer from Will Muschamp.

According to Rivals, Hardin is the no. 10 kicker in the nation and the one Florida wanted. He has been told he may handle kickoffs as a true freshman and could compete for other kicking duties as well. While the Gators wanted Hardin, he also wanted to be a Gator. Hardin has always favored the SEC and Florida specifically. His recent visit only solidified his feelings.

I’ll be the first to admit that it’s hard to take too much from a highlight package of any kicker because you see just that, the highlights – otherwise known as the kicks they’ve made. With a player in a different position, you only see the good plays as well, but you can tell much more about the way they made the play or where they positioned themselves on the field. With a kicker, it’s a player making a lot of kicks. Due to that, we may have to attempt to boil it down to technique.

Take a look at the first clip in the video – the clip of Hardin hitting a 59-yard game-winning field goal. Hardin makes the field goal with plenty of distance to spare, but his technique is interesting. His follow-through is not much of a follow-through. In this kick – and plenty of others throughout the video – you’ll notice Hardin’s right left barely getting waist-high after his kicks. It’s an interesting technique because of what other kickers may have done differently to make field goals from those distances. Take a look at Jason Elam’s 63-yarder or Matt Bryant’s 62-yarder (I apologize for the quality of both videos, but you can see the kicks if you watch closely). Both kickers follow through completely with their kicking legs. Their feet end up above their heads at the end of their kicking motion.

Why is this interesting? Well, it shows that Hardin may have yet to realize the entire power he possesses. Throughout the rest of the video, you’ll see a number of similar field goal attempts as well as kickoffs and punts. His follow-through with his right leg is always a relatively short motion; almost as if he’s attempting to punch the ball forward. I’m excited to see what he can do when he works with the Florida coaching staff and other kickers on the roster. He may have five or six more yards in him that can be found just by powering further through the kick.

With his ability already in place and his confidence high from the distance kicks he has made, Hardin should come in ready to compete for full kicking duties. Lining up for a game-winning field goal in a SEC stadium may be a different beast, but Hardin has kicked long-distance field goals in pressure situations that will help prepare him for the time he’s called upon to do the same at the collegiate level.

As for kickoffs, Hardin’s power definitely comes into play. He is able to reach the end zone with relative ease and, again, this is something he will only improve at. As he gets into a college-level workout regimen and refines his technique, Hardin will become one of the better distance kickers around.