After five years in the Blue and White, cornerback Daequan Hardy announced on Thursday evening that he not be coming back to Happy Valley for a sixth season, and instead would enter the 2024 NFL Draft after playing in the Peach Bowl.
Hardy came to Penn State as unbelievably productive high school football player, but he wasn’t seen as a top recruit. Due to his small size, Hardy didn’t even have a committable offer from the Nittany Lions until the days leading up to National Signing Day. He was more seen as a MAC prospect, with Hardy’s two other official visits taking place at Buffalo and Toledo.
To say Hardy outperformed expectations would be an understatement. He’s been the man at the nickel spot since the 2020 season, finishing his Penn State career (Peach Bowl aside) with 37 tackles, 7.5 TFLs, 3.5 sacks, and 5 interceptions. He also accounted for three touchdowns — a pick six in 2021 and two punt returns for touchdowns in 2023.
While Hardy’s smaller size will once again be put into question as he makes the jump to the NFL, there’s reason to believe that his skillset — a nickel back that can play as a gunner on special teams — is that of an NFL-caliber player.