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: 181 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.
2022: Hardy played in all 13 games as Penn State’s top nickel corner, ending the year with 13 tackles (nine solo) and a half sack, also forcing a fumble, picking off a pass against Indiana and breaking up four passes. His late PBU against Purdue was key in Penn State’s 35-31 season-opening win.
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 Kalen King, who is high on many early draft boards, and Johnny Dixon, a versatile threat slated to start opposite King.
Hardy is also capable of being playing safety, and has been Penn State’s top option at nickel for the past two seasons. He can also return kickoffs, which he and Nick Singleton are likely to take care of this year.
A quote about Hardy: “Daequan Hardy is building a strong reputation of being a dog.” — Penn State CB Coach Terry Smith