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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Former IU star dealing with tough questions at NFL combine

Friday, February 22, 2008

INDIANAPOLIS -- Former Indiana receiver James Hardy's biggest obstacle at the NFL scouting combine might end up being the team interviews.

With little doubt concerning his ability as a football player -- the 6-5, 217-pound Hardy is projected as a first-round pick in April's NFL draft -- the tougher questions may concern his background.

With teams wanting to know everything about players during the interview process, Hardy's arrest following the 2005 season for domestic battery, a charge that was later dismissed through a diversion program, is certain to be a topic of discussion.

"I can honestly tell you that I've made mistakes in the past, I've learned from them and it won't happen again," Hardy told the media on Friday. "I can't worry about the past. I just look forward to the present and the future."

Hardy said NFL teams have asked him about his "character issues" off the field.

"They're in your face a lot, but I already expected that," he said. "It's a lot of questions they want answers for. If they're going to invest millions of dollars in certain individuals, then you have to be prepared for those.

"I have nothing to hide. I've never had anything to hide, and the truth will come out regardless. If I made mistakes, I admit them and move forward."

Hardy, who decided to bypass his senior season at IU and enter the draft, doesn't think his off-field problems will negatively affect his draft stock or that teams will hold it against him.

"They understand that young guys make mistakes, and they want to know that you've learned from those mistakes and that it won't happen again," he said.

Former Purdue receiver Dorien Bryant, who also is participating at the combine, said it's not uncommon for teams to ask personal questions, some that might be tough to answer.

"To me, I think the best thing is to be truthful," said Bryant, who finished his college career as the Boilermakers' leader in all-purpose yards. "If there's anything that could possibly hurt you, you just have to be truthful and man-up to it. I think they'll respect you more for that than trying to beat around it."

Hardy is hopeful teams will focus more on his impressive football background come draft time.

He finished college with 191 receptions for 2,740 yards and 36 touchdowns, all IU career receiving records. He also set season records last year with 79 catches and 16 touchdowns, helping the Hoosiers to their first bowl appearance in 14 years, a 49-33 loss to Oklahoma State in the Insight Bowl.

Hardy was a first-team All-Big Ten selection.

"I feel I'm the best receiver (entering the draft)," he said. "Now I just have to make everyone else feel that way."

Bryant also is hoping to increase his draft stock at the combine. He finished last season with 936 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. He had 36 kickoff returns for 1,007 yards and two touchdowns.

"I'm just going to run my best, lift well, present myself well to all these teams and hope for the best," he said.



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