Friday Night Hero: Salisbury's Jared Hardin
By Mike London
SALISBURY — A frustrated fullback and left-out linebacker, Salisbury senior Jared Hardin now excels at a most unlikely position.
Hardin, 185 pounds in your program, but closer to 170 in reality, is the interior tackle who anchors the Hornet’s three-man defensive front.
“When Jared first came to us, he wanted to be a fullback, but we thought he was a step slow,” coach Joe Pinyan said. “We tried him at linebacker, but we had great linebackers, and he wasn’t a starter. Then we thought about the defensive line. We’ve had success there with smaller guys.”
Bingo. Hardin found a home on the defensive line in 2010. He was about 200 pounds then. Pinyan expected him to return bulked-up for his senior year, but he came back even lighter.
“I lost a lot of weight,” Hardin said. “It’s made me faster. I use my speed and I never give up.”
Hardin, obviously, can take a beating when the Hornets play strong, physical teams. West Rowan is as rugged as they come, and the Falcons handed the Hornets their first setback on Sept. 9.
With South Rowan coming to Ludwig Stadium last Friday, Pinyan worried that his team would be drained emotionally and flat for a game with the winless Raiders that was receiving little hype.
In his pregame speech, Pinyan challenged his team to create its own energy, to find some deep well of emotion, to play with the pride of a state champion.
The Hornets responded — 56-14.
“The loss to West was a hard loss, but we had to use that as motivation,” Hardin said. “We felt like we had a lot to prove.”
Assistant coach Scotty Robinson reminded defensive linemen Hardin, Scottie Givens and Sam Humble that the tone would have to be set by them, and that trio came out with passion.
Hardin made himself an honorary member of South’s backfield. He was everywhere, racking up two sacks, causing havoc.
“It wasn’t just the sacks — he was disrupting things and forcing their quarterback to revamp the play they’d called,” Pinyan said. “He was disrupting the quick-hitting running plays too. They were having a tough time blocking him.”
Most linemen do. They’re not used to blocking guys that can move like Hardin.
“You put his quickness against some slow feet and it can cause real trouble,” Pinyan said.
Hardin’s primary job isn’t to get sacks, it’s too force teams to account for him — hopefully, with two blockers.
And if they’re concentrating on dealing with Hardin, that allows linebackers such as Kavari Hillie, Travis Byrd, Keion Adams and Clint Comadoll opportunities to make tackles.
Hardin faced some adversity last season. He was the guy officials picked to throw out of the Hornets’ heated home game with Thomasville that decided the CCC championship.
To do this day, Pinyan has no idea what Hardin did to warrant ejection. The film revealed no clues.
“He’s about the most even-keel guy we’ve got,” Pinyan said. “He had to sit two, and our season could’ve ended before he got to play again. But then we got on a run in the playoffs. He was a big part of it.”
Being forced to sit out two games made Hardin appreciate football that much more. Now, even at practice, he goes all out. He makes every teammate work.
Like the other returning Hornets, Hardin owns a 2AA state championship ring. Proud as he is of it, he doesn’t wear it anymore.
“That was last year’s ring,” he said. “This is a different season and we want to earn a new one.”