Marcus Hardison lets out an exaggerated sigh before he starts talking about his season, and it's hard to blame him for doing so. After all, his Dodge City Community College squad finished 0-9 and took some nasty lumps in the process. Things weren't much better from an individual standpoint, either.
In addition to the beatdowns on the scoreboard, the touted defensive end was forced to split time between positions because of a rash injuries. You wouldn't know it by seeing his 27 scholarship offers from Division-I schools, but the shuffling wasn't ideal. There's still a hint of exhaustion in the four-star prospect's voice when he talks about it now.
"The season was horrible," Hardison said. "But, me personally, I've been up and down. I haven't been playing my position this whole season. I only played defensive end maybe for three games because I had to play inside after our tackle got hurt. I was going from inside to outside all year."
With the disaster of a season finally in the past, though, Hardison is ready to plan his exit strategy. He has now turned his attention toward picking a school, and visit No. 1 is set in stone.
"I have a visit to Arizona State on Nov. 17," Hardison said. "I don't know a lot about Arizona State really, but I talk to them a lot. They're one of my top schools because of the coaches."
The 6-foot-4, 290-pound Hardison says he's picked up offers from Tennessee, Auburn, Washington and Illinois in the past month. He doesn't use the word "favorites." In fact, he goes out of his way to avoid it. He does, however, say he's giving the hardest looks to a group of school consisting of ASU, Mississippi State, West Virginia, South Florida, Florida State, Texas A&M and Texas Tech.
Hardison realizes naming seven schools as potential landing spots isn't exactly narrowing it down to the nitty-gritty. It's simply the best he can do for now. He offers up West Virginia as the program that is recruiting him the hardest, but it's unclear if such a thing has any bearing on his lean.
According to Hardison, a May junior college graduate, his recruitment is just getting started.
"I don't make my decision until the spring," he said. "When December comes and I go home, that's when I'm going to go through everything with my family and stuff. A lot of schools have been contacting me to take visits, but I need to make sure I take the right visits."
Hardison graduated from Florida's Port Charlotte High School in 2011 and was recruited by schools such as West Virginia, Florida and Florida international before failing to qualify academically.