Friday, August 8, 2008

Newcomer Spotlight: Big Ten: Donsay Hardeman

By Brian Vornberg

Coming into 2007, Illinois did not have high expectations. This season, all of that has changed after the Fighting Illini were one of the surprise teams of the year and earned a Rose Bowl berth. Couple that with the talented recruiting class that head coach Ron Zook has just reeled in and there are high hopes going into 2008.

A huge part of this season’s success will depend on the newcomers, including safety Donsay Hardeman. Of all of Zook’s 2008 recruits, Hardeman seems to be the most college-ready after playing at Georgia Military College the last couple of seasons. He already has linebacker size and is capable of hitting like one too. I once asked Donsay about his favorite football moment and he mentioned a game in which he hit a guy so hard, he broke his jaw his three different places. He did feel really bad for the guy, by the way. However, it’s still a great football story.

Illinois had the good fortune of having Donsay fall into their lap in a way. He was originally a top-flight recruit in the 2006 class who was sought after by the likes of Miami, South Carolina, and others. However, he did not qualify academically, hence the last two years at Military School. Now Hardeman seems to have turned all of his academic troubles around and is looking to find a new home in Champaign.

Hardeman enters a great situation coming to the Illini, whose defense is already in great shape with young studs like linebacker Martez Wilson and cornerback Vontae Davis. It must be said that the young men challenging Donsay, namely Bo Flowers and Nate Bussey, are also very talented players. However, I believe Donsay Hardeman will be co-defensive coordinators’ Dan Disch and Curt Mallory’s man at the safety spot by the beginning of the season. He’s just too talented, intimidating, and vocal to keep off the field.