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May 16, 2012

Could UT be looking at Juco ranks again?

The Texas coaching staff stepped outside its comfort zone in the 2012 class, signing two junior college players, a practice that UT has rarely utilized under Mack Brown's watch.

Was it a one-year anomaly, or will the Longhorns continue to work the junior college ranks in search of top talent? It's too early to say there's a trend developing, but the Texas coaches have inquired about a top junior college prospect in the 2013 class.

Texas assistant coach Bo Davis recently communicated with members of the Dodge City (KS.) Community College coaching staff to get some background on rising prospect Marcus Hardison, a talented defensive end.

The 6-4, 290-pound Hardison has returned home to Florida for the summer, but it hasn't stopped college coaches from checking in. A few schools have made stops by his old high school, Port Charlotte H.S., to watch Hardison work out and the talented d-lineman is hoping Texas makes a trip of its own.

"It was Tuesday (of last week). I was talking to Texas A&M. My defensive line coach came in after A&M left and told me Texas was supposed to come down," Hardison said. "My coach and coach Davis are good friends. Coach Davis is supposed to call me and I think they're supposed to come down to Florida to see me.

"A couple schools have done that already, go to my high school. My coach from my high school tells me to come up there when they're coming but I'm always up there at the school lifting weights anyway. If they're coming to the high school, they'll usually tell me before so I'll make sure to be there."

Hardison said he's closing in on 25 scholarship offers and he lists Arizona State, Kansas, Baylor, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, TCU, La Tech, Southern Miss, Ole Miss, South Florida, West Virginia, Arkansas, Arkansas State, Memphis, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Kansas, Indiana and Toledo as schools that have extended formal offers.

Texas has not yet thrown it's name into the mix, but if the Longhorns do, Hardison said he'll give UT serious consideration.

"That's my favorite school, the first college team I ever liked. I think I flicked on a bowl game, it was Vince Young and Texas against Michigan in the Rose Bowl. Ever since then, I just liked Texas overall," Hardison said. "My grandmother put me on to Texas, bought me a Texas Longhorn shirt."

Hardison can play at either defensive end or defensive tackle, and he's had college coaches talk to him about playing both spots. He's not close-minded to the idea of playing inside, but if he has his choice, he'll stay at defensive end.

"I'm quick off the line, very quick off the line. I'm good in the open field. This spring that just passed, I got a lot better on my footwork and with my hands," Hardison said. "And I got better with my strength too. I have a lot to learn but think I'm very quick off the line.

"A lot of coaches want me to play inside our outside. A&M said they'd put me at D-end, but when they go to a different scheme I'd go inside. At my school now, I play regular defensive end, then when we switch to a fast d-line and the d-ends go in, I'll go inside. I can do both, but I like playing defensive end because I've gotten better at it and would like to stay at it."

Hardison may be able to graduate in December but he said he'll most likely finish his junior college schooling in May of 2013, allowing him to report to a Division I school the following month. He'll have three years to play two (one redshirt season if needed).


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