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Minnesota Football Recruiting: KiAnte Hardin Commits

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Coach Jay Sawvel continues his hot streak of landing cornerbacks, pulling in the third CB in the last week and likely putting a bow on that position for 2015.

Bob Levey

Ok, now I think we're done at corner.

They find ways to get disruptive corners on the field


Webb City (MO) HS cornerback KiAnte Hardin verbally committed to Minnesota this morning, continuing the Gopher roll of cornerbacks to pledge this past week. Hardin is a 3 star prospect according to 247Sports' Industry Composite, choosing Minnesota over listed offers from Army, Toledo, Tulsa and Bowling Green. KiAnte is the 16th member of the 2015 class and fifth defensive back commitment, and also hails from the same high school where Jerry Kill began his head coaching career 26 years ago.

Quotables

ESPNU eval ($) tossing mad amounts of backhanded shade:

Displays he is very comfortable around the football, in any capacity. He returns kicks, runs and catches it and is effective as a ball hawk on defense. Displays he can go it and once he has it he can just go. ... Consistently displays a knack for doing exciting things. He will make an explosive return, come up with a big interception or break a long run. He has good feet and is a dynamic player. ... Hardin should make a mid-major program excited about eh explosiveness he brings to the table. If he were to grow a bit bigger schools may get excited about him later.

(Likely Fraudulent) Measurables**

** The section title is a bit. It's intentionally facetious comment on how recruiting sites (and even some college coaches) notoriously exaggerate traditional combine measures -- especially the 40. No offense is meant.

Height: 5'10"
Weight: 155-164 lbs.
Fake 40 Time: 4.64s electronic (claimed 4.48s)

Highlights

Partial Senior Year:

Thoughts

Absurd Comparisons

Closest thing by way of comparison to a current/former Gopher is Martez Shabazz. Like Shabazz, Hardin is a diminutive but active CB who simply makes plays. Shabazz had a fearless style, especially attacking screens and running backs, that I see in Hardin as well.

Scheme Fit

If Antonio Shenault is more of a field/nickel CB, Alonzo Craighton is definitely a boundary corner or nickel safety and Ray Buford is a flexible DB, Hardin fits the mold of an active playmaker regardless of spot. His role or fit in the defensive backfield isn't well defined from looking at him as a prospect, though it really doesn't matter to secondary coach Jay Sawvel or defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys. They find ways to get disruptive corners on the field with heavy rotation and package plays, whether it be against the slot or in nickel/dime personnel groupings.

This will read like hyperbole or cliched, but another characteristic that defines a Sawvel defensive back is playing with a chip on their shoulder. Nearly all of the current DBs were under-recruited based upon measurables or location, yet they've been molded by Sawvel into one of the best secondaries in the Big Ten. Hardin makes more plays than his smallish 5'10.5" frame would suggest, and he's continuously around the ball when passes take flight -- another defining trait of Minnesota DBs.

Impact on Other Prospects?

Yeah, they're pretty much done recruiting prep corners. That means Willie Sykes, who took an official visit on September 19th, and Sheldrick Redwine, who was in town for Northwestern, are probably out of luck. Those yearning for the staff to pull in CBs with Power5 offers will have to wait until next year, or until they sign a JUCO. Realistically, things are down to two spots in the defensive backfield, one is reserved for John Kelly (a take no matter what or when) and an aforementioned junior college transfer (Charles Rogers on top?).