Vincent’s Chris Hardie commits to Jacksonville State
Published 4:46 pm Thursday, December 13, 2018
By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor
VINCENT – It was a special day at Vincent Middle High School on Thursday, Dec. 13, as football, basketball and track and field star Chris Hardie sat next to his parents in the school’s library.
Surrounded by loved ones, family, friends, coaches, teachers and teammates, Hardie committed to Jacksonville State University, where he plans to sign next Wednesday, Dec. 19, to continue his football career at the next level.
With the early National Signing Day period being next Wednesday, Hardie was unable to actually sign his letter of intent, but the senior three-sport star was celebrated on Dec. 13, due to the school being out for Christmas break starting next Monday.
“Honestly, we are recognizing him for everything he has done for our school and community from a leadership standpoint and not just from a football standpoint,” said head basketball coach and athletic director John Hadder. “Representing us across the county and state in basketball and track. Everything he has ever done, as long as I’ve known him, he’s always represented us in a class way, and I really appreciate that.”
During his junior season, Hardie was able to make the All-County football team as a running back thanks to 1,170 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns, while also making the All-County basketball team later in the school year after averaging 12.8 points and 9.7 rebounds per game.
This year, Hardie was able to 1,054 more yards on the ground with 12 more touchdowns, and is off to a solid start during the basketball season, meaning he will probably make the All-County team in both sports for the second consecutive season.
It’s not something that happened easily, but with a ton of hard work from the athlete.
“This is the third one of these we have done in the last few years,” Hadder said. “I want you to understand, it’s not something that’s easy. It’s not something that happens every day. There is a lot of work, time, sweat and sacrifices that are put into it. So what he is doing today I something we should all appreciate and honor.”
While he dealt with a new football coach during his senior season in Lucas Weatherford, it also didn’t take long for his new coach to recognize his greatness, and part of what makes him a special player, his will to want to help others be great.
“One recruiter came in here and was talking with Chris, and when Chris left, the coach and I started chatting,” Weatherford said. “Chris then came back by and was helping a younger student that was having a tough time and needed some help. To that coach, that stood out more than anything. My point is that character and academics stand out more than anything, and that’s why he is where he is today.”
Weatherford also noted Hardie’s academic side, which made it easy for Jacksonville State to want to pull the string and offer him.
“The last few weeks we’ve had a bunch of college coaches in and out to see Chris and talk to me, and it was a pleasure to be able to tell them that he was a full academic qualifier,” Vincent head football coach Lucas Weatherford said. “We didn’t have to worry about that because he took care of himself in the classroom, and that set him up for these opportunities.”
While Hardie was a dominant force offensively the last two seasons, he also came along as an impressive player on the defensive line during his senior year posting 53 total tackles, 12 tackles for loss and five sacks, which made him an extremely valuable recruit to teams that visited.
Hardie has put in a lot of hard work and seen a lot of success to be as great as he has, but he knows there were others responsible and many that sacrificed time for him to be able to play sports in general.
“First I want to give all the glory to God,” Hardie said. “To my parents, thanks to the sacrifices you have made for me and to my family and friends and teachers and staff, thank you for your support. I ask that you continue to support and pray for me as I take the next step in my journey.”