Mark another dent in whatever recruiting mystique may be left at the University of Tennessee after the Volunteers missed out on another prime in-state talent to an SEC rival.
Jay Hardy, a four-star defensive end from McCallie School in Chattanooga, committed to Auburn on Wednesday ahead of Tennessee, his other finalist. He also held scholarship offers from the likes of Georgia Tech, Alabama and plenty others.
As for reasons why, the 6-foot-4, 290-pound defensive lineman made it clear that Auburn has a comprehensive plan for how he’ll contribute at the next level.
“It went great,” Hardy said. “I liked the atmosphere (at the game). I had a good experience with (Auburn buck) Derick Hall after the game, too. He was my player-host and got his first start. He told me (defensive line coach Rodney Garner) is going to push you until your breaking point. I had a lot of time with Coach (Gus) Malzahn and Coach G.,” Hardy told 247Sports.
“I talked to Coach Malzahn before the game and had breakfast with him Sunday morning. He said they can’t find any big guys like Marlon Davidson and how I could be just like him when he leaves. I think I could fit in tremendously, definitely be able to be a big bulk on the defensive line inside and out.”
According to 247Sports, Hardy visited Tennessee two weeks ago and Auburn last weekend. He visited Auburn a total of three times before committing, yet all the 247Sports crystal ball predictions came down in favor of the Vols, not the Tigers.
Whether that is a nod to unrealistic expectations for where the two programs currently are or a simple misreading of one recruits path is an open question. Either way, it doesn’t bode particularly well for Jeremy Pruitt’s program.