GatorCountry.com continues its series previewing the players who will make up the 2012 Florida Gators football team this season.
Each day, we’ll count off another scholarship player until the Florida football season officially begins Sept. 1 against Bowling Green in The Swamp.
Today, we take a look at freshman kicker Austin Hardin.
Austin Hardin committed to the Florida Gators in June 2011 and was a part of the Gators’ 2012 recruiting class. Hardin chose Florida over Auburn and Tennessee.
In his senior season at Marist School in Atlanta, Ga., the 5-foot-10, 207-pound kicker finished 13-for-20 on field goals and was named to the Georgia Sportswriters Association Class 4A All-State Team. All seven of his missed field goals came from more than 50 yards.
He also kicked in the Under Armour All-American Game and was rated the No. 1 kicking prospect in the nation.
Hardin has shown he has the ability to kick long and to perform well under pressure. In high school he knocked down a 59-yard game winning field goal.
On kickoffs, Hardin is also consistently strong. He put every kickoff at Marist in the end zone with the exception of the specialty kickoffs. At Florida camp when the Gators were recruiting him, Hardin averaged about 75 yards on kickoffs with a 4.1 hang time.
According to ESPN.com, Hardin is the best combination of power and consistency as a kicker in the 2012 recruiting class.
What to Expect
Hardin is a proven kicker in high school with one of the best legs in the nation. So it’s inevitable that he will receive significant playing time with the Florida Gators.
However, that most likely won’t come until next season. With Caleb Sturgis locking down the starting role, Hardin may only see time on kickoffs or on the rare occasion he would have to punt, unless Sturgis was to once again go down with an injury.
Still, once Sturgis graduates, Hardin should be strongly considered for the starting position.
Here is Hardin’s recruit video: