Penn Hills’ Daequan Hardy named TribLive HSSN Football Player of the Year
By: Chris Harlan
Saturday, December 22, 2018 | 11:54 PM
Daequan Hardy had already experienced a great senior season before he traveled to Hershey, but it became clear there that the Penn Hills star had saved his best for last.
The do-it-all wide receiver and cornerback scored four times in the PIAA Class 5A final, a performance that earned Penn Hills its first state title since 1995. Hardy (5-10, 175) scored two receiving touchdowns, returned a kickoff 84 yards for another score and made a spectacular 100-yard interception return that stretched from goal line to goal line at Hersheypark Stadium.
That effort raised his season touchdown total to 22 and helped earn Hardy the TribLive High School Sports Network’s Football Player of the Year award. In all, Hardy finished the season with 12 receiving touchdowns, five rushing, three interception returns, one punt return and one kickoff return.
Is there a memory from Hershey that you’ll never forget?
“Just being there, being able to play there with my friends. Since freshman year we talked about playing in a championship game at Hersheypark, so me being there and playing there will be a memory in my head for life.”
Of the four touchdowns, which was your favorite?
“The 100-yard pick six was my favorite. Still to this day I’ll be going through Hudl and just click my highlights from that game and watch all of the highlights.”
At the time, did you realize you’d just run 100 yards?
“I didn’t actually. I was just trying to score. I didn’t even know it was 100 until somebody told me during the game. They said, ‘You just took it 100 yards!’ I didn’t even know.”
Where did you put your championship medal?
“It’s hanging up on my wall. When I go to college, I’ll probably put it on my dorm wall.”
Are there any other mementos you kept from the season?
“I kept my helmet. I’m probably going to put that in a glass case. I’m going to get my jersey at our banquet, so I’ll have that too.”
Is there anybody in college football or the NFL that you compare yourself with?
“One person I say I’m kind of similar to is (Tennessee Titans cornerback) Adoree’ Jackson, because he can do all sides of the ball. He could play offense, special teams or defense and he’s great at all three.”
What do you think you’re best at?
“I think I’m best at corner — or just being around the ball. If the ball’s in my hands or around me, I feel like I can make a play on it.”
What receiver was your toughest challenge this season?
“I’ve got to give it to my boy from West A, (Mateo Vandamia). I say that because he’s the only person to score on me this year. I was there but he high-pointed the ball and kept running. I told him after he scored on me: ‘You’ve got my props. You’re the only person to score on me all season.’”
On offense, what play were you most excited to hear called?
“Trips right slide nine. That was my favorite play because it’s on the wide receivers to go make a play. We called that a lot in tough situations. I caught the game-winner against Steubenville with that play. I have go (route) down the numbers. The inside receiver has a go down the seam and the third receiver has a go toward the middle of the field.”
Where does your recruiting process stand?
“Right now I’m just trying to go day by day. I’m probably going to announce my commitment the day of signing day (Feb. 6). I haven’t taken any visits right now, but starting in January I’ll start taking some.”
What scholarship offers do you have?
“I have three: William & Mary, Toledo and Akron.”
Are you hopeful that more college coaches will take notice of your state championship performance?
“I still have a lot of time for other schools to come in. I think some see my size and look away. But I already know that other schools are going to come in, so I’m not worried.”
What are you looking for in a college?
“I want to go somewhere that I’m wanted. I want to go somewhere that I’m either getting playing time or I’m next up or I’m fighting for a spot. I want to go somewhere that I could be used well.”
What was it like to watch other recruits already sign during the early period?
“It kind of made me a little bit nervous. I felt kind of like left out, but not really.”
Do you have any hidden talents most don’t know about?
“When I was younger, I used to play the trombone. I used to do a lot with instruments. I used to play the flute, too. I used to be musical, but I shied away from it for sports.”
If your teammates all entered a talent show, who would win?
“I’ll say Hollis Mathis. He’s going to win. He’s a comedian. He’ll have everybody laughing. He’s one of those cats who’s a good person to be around. His vibe is always up. He makes you laugh a lot.”
Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris at email@example.com or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.
Tags: Penn Hills