All 105 is a Nittany Sports Now series profiling each Penn State football player. This edition will look at redshirt junior cornerback/return man Daequan Hardy.
Weight: 175 pounds
Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Before Penn State: Penn State fans in the Pittsburgh area were extra pleased when Hardy signed with coach James Franklin’s program after a decorated career at Penn Hills High School.
Hardy lettered three years at Penn Hills and became a two-time team captain. The highlight of Hardy’s high school career— and one of the highlights of his life— took place in the 2018 season, when the Indians won the state championship.
Hardy was electric for Penn Hills, ending the season with 22 touchdowns scored five ways— receiving, rushing, interception return, kickoff return and punt return.
In the state title game, Hardy exploded. He returned a kickoff for 84-yards and a touchdown and had a 100-yard pick-six, leading Penn Hills to its first state title since 1995.
Hardy’s play as a senior made him the Pennsylvania Football Writers’ 5A Player of the Year.
A three-star recruit according to 247Sports’ composite ratings, Hardy committed to Penn State in February of 2019.
2019: Hardy redshirted his freshman season and only appeared in two games but impressed Penn State’s coaching staff with his practice performance.
Penn State recognized Hardy, Max Chizmar and Smith Vilbert with “Developmental Squad Defensive Player of the Year” at the team’s end-of-year awards banquet.
2020: Hardy played in all nine Penn State games in a pandemic-shortened season.
He ended the year with 10 tackles (eight solo), three pass breakups, a sack and a QB hurry.
2021: Hardy played in all 13 games, ending the year with 16 tackles (11 solo), three for loss, two interceptions, a sack and seven pass breakups.
Hardy’s biggest play came early in the third quarter of Penn State’s regular-season finale at Michigan State.
Hardy intercepted a pass from Payton Thorne in the snow and ran it 17 yards for a score that gave Penn State a three-point lead.
Penn State lost the game, but Hardy’s big play could be a sneak preview of what’s to come in 2022.
Where he stands: Hardy is one of Penn State’s more experienced players, which is a plus.
The bad news is that he sits in a talented and deep position room.
At cornerback, Penn State returns fellow western PA product Joey Porter Jr., and talented sophomore Kalen King, who’s expected to start opposite Porter.
Hardy also got some time at safety last season, which is another plus.
But Penn State is also healthy in that position room, with established fifth-year senior Ji’Ayir Brown leading the way and sophomore Jalen Reed, who got plenty of playing time late last season, expected to start alongside him.
Even if Hardy doesn’t become a regular starter on defense, he’s expected to get a chance to shine in the return game.
With Jahan Dotson in the NFL and John Lovett gone, Penn State will need payers to step up returning punts and kickoffs.
Hardy has a chance to be one of those guys and showcase the versatility that made him a Penn Hills great.
A quote about Hardy:
This past spring, first-year Penn State defensive coordinator Manny Diaz spoke highly of what Hardy brings to the unit.
” He’s a big energy guy,” Diaz told reporters. “He brings the energy to the defense, and we rally around that. He’s been a great addition to the team so far.”