One of the biggest storylines coming out of the early signing period was whether or not Auburn could hold onto 4* DL Jay Hardy. The #3 ranked player in the state of Tennessee claimed he wanted to wait until February to sign with his teammates. The Vols had hoped that meant the door remained cracked open for their chances at a flip. Auburn, meanwhile, reportedly remained very confident in their chances of keeping Hardy in the fold. Turned out the reason they were so confident was because he had actually signed early in December.
While maintaining that he didn’t sign early because he was in FL for basketball, @Volquest_Rivals has learned that Jay Hardy DID SIGN with Auburn on December 19th. Hardy told @AuburnRivals earlier this week that he was shutting down his recruitment but actually did so last month. pic.twitter.com/m1Kxsi3Ymf— Austin Price (@AustinPriceless) January 18, 2020
Hardy’s mother later confirmed this report with AuburnUndercover’s Keith Niebuhr.
“He did sign on Dec. 18, but he wanted to wait to release it so he could preserve that moment and sign with his friends in February,” said Shelly Hardy, the player’s mother.
Ah the wild world of recruiting...
Jay Hardy’s first known visit came in late May on the Friday just before Big Cat Weekend. It didn’t seem like much at the time especially considering Auburn had been late to the game offering the 4* talent out of Chattanooga, TN only earlier that month. But it was apparently enough for him to want to come check a game out in Jordan-Hare Stadium this fall. He made a trip down for Auburn’s thrashing of Mississippi State and that appears to be the weekend everything changed.
For pretty much all of his recruitment, Hardy had been seen as a virtual Tennessee lock. His final decision came down to Auburn and Tennessee with most believing the Vols would be the pick. But Hardy stunned everyone choosing the Tigers. Today, it became official.
Welcome to the #AuburnFamily @_Chilloutjay!— Auburn Football (@AuburnFootball) January 18, 2020
McCallie HS ➡️Auburn#WarEagle x #AUNSD20 pic.twitter.com/p0Ap6x8xeD
Hardy has the size and strength to be a day 1 contributor for the Tigers. He’s also athletic enough that Auburn can play him on the outside at strong side end or slide him inside at defensive tackle. What jumps out on his tape is he doesn’t just rely on his power. He does an outstanding job of using his hands to shed blocks and make plays. I’m also impressed with his ability to change directions, a key skill in defending modern day spread attack which often leave the end unblocked as the read man. A cheap shot on an extra point robbed him of a few games his senior campaign but he was able to eventually return to the field and help lead his McCallie squad to a state championship.
War Eagle Jay!