Ruff Stuff: D.J. Hardin, Central Lakes football player
D.J. Hardin is a 2016 graduate of John Marshall where he was a standout defensive back on the Rockets' state tournament team.
Hardin is now a sophomore at Central Lakes College in Brainerd. Central Lakes went 11-1 last year, its only loss coming in the Red Grange Bowl Game in Glen Ellyn, Ill., 25-22 to the College of DuPage. Hardin was a reserve cornerback last year, but expects to be a starter this season and also has hopes of returning punts. In school, he is leaning toward pursuing a degree in exercise science.
What made you pick Central Lakes as your college?
HARDIN:Central Lakes has a winning program. Everyone there is focused and ready to go. That made me want to come there. Everyone treats you like family.
You received a decent amount of playing time last year but didn't start. How did you handle that?
HARDIN:I just had to play my role and learn from the guys in front of me. I didn't have a clue what would happen when I got there. But I made the best of it. There was a lot of talent (ahead) of me. A lot of them had already been there for a year. I just had to learn from them.
The name gives it away. You're in lake country when you're at Central Lakes. Did you take advantage of that?
HARDIN:I had some friends on the team who had lake cabins. We did some boating out there. It's definitely beautiful out there.
What did you do this offseason to try to take your football skills to another level?
HARDIN:One thing I did with some of my (Central Lakes) teammates was to go to a couple of college camps. We went to one at Oklahoma State and one at Kansas. The Oklahoma State camp taught me to never give up and work hard. They told me I have the ability to be a Division I athlete. The Kansas camp taught me to be patient as a cornerback, to not trigger on that first route (by a wide receiver). It was a good trip, but a long one. It took nine or 10 hours to get out there.
How much did you enjoy the guys on the team last year?
HARDIN:It's always fun to make new friends. I was able to talk to a lot of new people. This summer, a lot of us would talk almost every day, or Snapchat or Facetime.