football

Florida OL primed for elite status

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A player destined for a spot on this year’s Rivals100 Team is Orlando (Fla.) Edgewater offensive lineman Matt Hardrick.
The 6-foot-5, 338-pound tackle was a driving force behind Edgewater’s run to the Class 6A championship game, and many considered him to be the state’s top offensive lineman as a junior.
“Awesome,” Edgewater coach Bill Gierke said. “That’s the best way I can describe him. He’s just a great, great football player. He dominates his side of the line. They go backwards.
“I’ve coached a lot of good ones, a few of them who are in the league now, and at this point he’s better than any of them.”
Asked what makes Hardrick so special, Gierke said it’s a combination of things.
“Matt’s got the size and feet and explosiveness that everybody’s looking for,” he said. “He’s got the long arms that coaches love. He’s equally good at run blocking or pass protection.
“But the biggest thing is, when you coach big guys in high school, a lot of times those real big guys are not that aggressive because they’re still growing and their bodies are a little awkward. They get tired easy. This kid doesn’t get tired. He’s got a real mean streak to him, and he gets after people. We may use him a little bit on defense as well.”
Since his eye-opening performance at the Gainesville Nike Camp last year, Hardrick has been a big name on early 2005 recruiting boards from coast to coast.
“He’s going to be recruited by everybody in the nation,” Gierke said. “I’m not putting out a big list of offers right now, but he’s going to be able to go wherever he wants. Obviously, the big three down here in Florida are pretty involved with him already.
“The school that he’s expressed interest in to me is Miami. That’s the main one I’ve heard him talk about, but it’s so early, and you know how kids are.”
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