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Land of 10 spoke at length Monday afternoon with Sharon Hardy, the mother of 4-star defensive end Dorian Hardy. She was in the crowded office of Penn State coach James Franklin on Sunday when her son committed.
Dorian Hardy boarded a Greyhound bus Saturday morning headed toward Pennsylvania with a plan in place. Media members and the Penn State staff anticipated the visit, but his mother knew he would return home to New Jersey as a member of the Nittany Lions’ 2018 recruiting class.
“Earlier in the week, we had a discussion,” his mother, Sharon Hardy, told Land of 10 on Monday. “We agreed that it was time to figure things out. We talked about a lot of schools, but it kept coming back to Penn State.”
Days later, Dorian, a 6-foot-5, 241-pound defensive end who attends Paramus (N.J.) Catholic High School, was set to return to State College for one final time as an uncommitted recruit. The 247Sports 4-star prospect used public transportation to get a head start on his mother and sisters, who joined him on campus Sunday.
Just put my boy on the bus to ANOTHER Penn State visit….
Looking forward to joining him on campus tomorrow. ❤🏈🕰
— Sharon Hardy (@Hardy39Hardy) June 10, 2017
Hardy, who also attended the April 22 spring game and gave rave reviews about the experience to Land of 10, took advantage of another opportunity to soak in the school atmosphere. He stayed overnight at the residence of redshirt freshman Antonio Shelton.
His family arrived in Happy Valley on Sunday, welcomed at the entrance of the Lasch Building by a crowd of Penn State staffers including Franklin. Before moving forward with an eventful day, Sharon wanted to double-check her son’s state of mind regarding his impending decision.
“I kind of pulled Dorian aside because he was looking a little nervous,” she said. “I asked him if he was sure. He nodded his head, gave me a smile and I knew everything was OK.”
After an exchanging of pleasantries between hosts and guests, the group made their way to Franklin’s office.
Jumping on board
Several members of the Nittany Lions staff, including defensive line coach Sean Spencer and recruiting coordinator EJ Barthel, were in the room along with Dorian, Sharon, her boyfriend, two sisters, Paramus Catholic teammate Shelton Applewhite and Applewhite’s parents.
“Coach Franklin asked if I had any questions and I pretty much turned the conversation over to Dorian,” Sharon said.
Her son, who she describes as a “man of few words,” made an exception delivering the statement that followed. Sharon relayed it to Land of 10:
I want to thank you coaches for believing in me from the beginning. Whether I had a good game or a bad game, you always stayed loyal since the day you offered me. And now I just want to let you know that I’m committing to Penn State.
Then this happened:
— Sharon Hardy (@Hardy39Hardy) June 11, 2017
A Nittany Lions coach told Sharon it was one of the most emotional commitments he has ever seen. Once the initial high-five and hugs were distributed, Hardy turned to his mother.
“He broke down and cried in my arms,” she said.
Sharon acknowledged that Dorian’s upbringing hasn’t always been easy and it’s forced him to mature quicker than many of his peers. Her brother recently passed away, adding to an impassioned setting.
“Signing day isn’t going to compare to all the emotion that was in Coach Franklin’s office,” Sharon said. “[Dorian has] been through a difficult road at times and I think a lot of emotions came out as we held each other. He now knows there are a lot of good things that lie in his future.”
She said Dorian woke up Monday feeling confident in his decision, enjoying what Sharon referred to as “a lot less weight on his shoulders.”
Hardy, considered the No. 6 strongside defensive end in 247Sports composite rankings, started receiving scholarship offers from powerhouse college football programs as a sophomore.
By summer of 2016 he held offers from the likes of Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State.
Sharon estimates they visited 15 universities during an expansive recruiting process. Along the way, they put together a list of pros and cons for each school. This is where Penn State separated itself from the pack.
“There was something we liked about every school, but they also had cons, too,” Sharon said. “Even up to this past weekend, we went back and forth trying to find something we didn’t like about Penn State. We never found it.”
The reality that available spots in recruiting classes tend to dwindle during the summer also stood out to the Hardys during recruiting discussions. Was Dorian willing to wait things out despite potential landing spots being filled by other prospects?
Sharon said he was comfortable with that inevitability in almost every case, even if it meant missing out on an opportunity to join Ohio State — a school she specifically mentioned. However, the possibility of being leapfrogged and ousted from the equation at Penn State did indeed aggravate him, and those feelings helped expedite a pledge.
“They’re recruiting some really great defensive linemen right now,” Sharon said. “They’re looking at [5-star DE] Micah Parsons, who did de-commit but who knows what happens there. Then there’s [4-star DE Jayson] Oweh from New Jersey who is blowing up as a recruit, and [4-star DT PJ] Mustipher, who is more of a big guy but they don’t separate different kinds of defensive linemen in terms of scholarship numbers.”
Rather than wait and risk disappointment, Dorian pulled the trigger and claimed one of those scholarships.
Hardy is approaching his first season at Paramus Catholic after transferring from St. Joseph (Montvale, N.J.) High. Penn State now claims 13 total commitments in a class ranked No. 4 overall in 247Sports composite rankings.