K Austin Hardin commits to Florida Gators over Auburn and Tennessee

Marist K Austin Harden

Marist K Austin Hardin

Georgia’s No. 1 kicker is a Gator.

Marist’s Austin Hardin auditioned at three football camps this summer, going 3 for 3 with offers from Tennessee, Auburn and Florida. He committed to Gators coach Will Muschamp while on campus on Wednesday.

“Coach Muschamp told me from his staff’s evaluation of me, and from what he heard from others, he considered me the best specialist in the nation,” Hardin told the AJC. “He put the offer out there for me, and said ‘We’d like you to come to Florida. You can come in right away and start off kickoffs.’

“I was very excited. This was the offer I had been waiting for. I told some other schools that I was going to wait until the end of July to commit. But I had been to enough camps and seen enough. I always knew I wanted to play at Florida so I committed. I didn’t want to drag it out any longer. I told Coach Muschamp that I was ‘100-percent Gator’ and happy to be part of the team.”

Hardin is ranked as the No. 1 kicker in the nation by one special teams camp (click on story link)

Ironically, Hardin almost ended up at UGA.

The Marist kicker became a household name in recruiting circles after booting a 59-yard field goal with three seconds remaining in a win over Southwest DeKalb last season. His personal kicking coach is Rex Robinson, the most famous kicker in UGA history, along with Kevin Butler.

Georgia was one of the first schools to aggressively recruit Hardin. However, UGA special teams coach John Lilly decided to first offer Marshall Morgan, who quickly committed last January. Morgan is a top kicker out of Florida.

“Georgia talked about offering me and wrapping things up, and the next thing I know they offered Marshall,” Hardin recalled. “I’m glad that happened because when it’s all said and done, I’m at the place that I want to be. If Georgia had offered early, I might’ve felt pressured and committed to them. I guess Marshall was the guy they wanted, and I’m glad it worked out for him there. Instead, I ended up having to wait but I’m going to where I want to be.”

Hardin has one of the strongest legs in state history. He made 13 of 20 field goals last season; the seven he missed were either attempts of 50 yards or longer, or blocked. He converted every PAT attempt, and blasted every kickoff out of the end zone, except for when Marist was trying a specialty kickoff, such as an onsides kick.

At Auburn camp, Hardin had an 87-yard kickoff with a 4.3-second hang time, earning an offer from Auburn coach Gene Chizik. At Florida, Hardin averaged around 75 yards per kickoff, with a 4.1 hang time.

Why hadn’t you heard of Hardin until last year? Before last season, Hardin played behind Marist’s Justin Moore, who signed a football scholarship with Georgia Tech.

Harden canceled plans to attend camps at Alabama and Virginia after committing to Florida.

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– By Michael Carvell, AJC Recruiting Blog Got a recruiting item? mcarvell@ajc.com

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122 comments Add your comment

Worm

June 22nd, 2011
1:25 pm

Florida’s number one kicker is a DAWG!

honolulu dawg

June 22nd, 2011
1:25 pm

Even trade. We got the best kicker out of Florida and they got the best kicker out of Georgia. Enough said.

7576DAWG

June 22nd, 2011
1:26 pm

Lilly had his reasons for going with Morgan over Hardin.

freedyg

June 22nd, 2011
1:27 pm

Florida Freak

June 22nd, 2011
1:39 pm

It’s funny how all the websites have hardin ranked over Marshall and last time I checked Marshall didn’t have 59 yard field goal or an 87 yard kickoff….go gators

Marist dad

June 22nd, 2011
1:40 pm

Georgia blew this one! Austin is the number one kicker in the nation and not just in Georgia. Go watch the video of Austin and Marshall Morgan and YOU tell me who is better. It’s not close. Coach Lilly was buddies with Mashall Morgan’s people from his FSU days, and that’s how he got offered first. It was a poor decision by Coach Lilly and he will be reminded of it every year in Jacksonville. I’ve talked with other parents at Marist, and this situation has ruined Georgia’s chances of getting future recruits from the best private school in the south. I’m a Georgia fan but they deserve it after messing this up.

GrantparkGator

June 22nd, 2011
1:41 pm

Marshall couldn’t even get a commitable offer from UF. Also Espn,Scout and Rivals don’t know anything about kickers..they group them w/punters and its based on stars. Kohl’s Kicking, which is the top kicking service in America, rates him the #1 PK in the nation(couldn’t find Marshall in the Top 100). http://kohlskicking.com/recruiting/national-rating-system/kickers/2012.

Honduras Richt

June 22nd, 2011
1:42 pm

Brandon Bogotay was the biggest waste of a schollie ever after Marlon Brown. If Georgia can sign those “stars” then signing Austin for kickoffs only was a no brainer. Yes, I watched both videos and Austin is far better. Great move by Coach Lilly and his FSU connections. Brilliant!

Ga.

June 22nd, 2011
1:42 pm

Good Luck at Florida, I prefer Georgias choice.
Marshall is a big time prospect. Perhaps the strongest leg in the nation. Has the ability to do all 3 (FG, KO, and Punt). A great athlete with huge potential.
All-State at punter as a freshman; All-State at kicker as a sophomore.

As a junior Morgan was 15/16 on field goals, 63/64 on extra points, and averaged 43.7 yards per punt.

Sir Barks A Lot

June 22nd, 2011
1:49 pm

Good luck to this young man – Both Florida and Georgia have excellent kickers committed.

Ironic that the kid from Florida jumped at the chance to kick for UGA while the kid from Georgia jumped on the chance to kick for U of F!!!!

It’s great to see these kids get these opportunities!

Go Dawgs!

BigTimeTechFan

June 22nd, 2011
1:50 pm

What if he kicks a game winner against UGA then after the game thanks Rex Robinson, that would be wild.

Dawg Ted

June 22nd, 2011
1:55 pm

THIS JUST IN! While Mark Richt is somewhere in Honduras, SEC schools raid Georgia for recruits.

SickandTired

June 22nd, 2011
1:56 pm

The Richter strikes again….wooohooooo…maybe he won’t have anybody else to recruit when he gets back from Honduras……So let me get this straight….Georgia offered a kicker and he committed from Florida that couldn’t even get an offer from Florida…..Georgia didn’t offer the #1 kicker in America as rated and the Gators got him…..Brilliant…brilliant I tell you…..Richt is the best…the best, the best……..He is the most overpaid, underachieving failure in college football. Good first 5 years…last five FAILURE! Embarassment to the state of Geogia, the Dawg Nation and all the people that care about Georgia football. He needs to resign before Boise and South Carolina put the final nails in his coaching coffin…..Maybe him and Tressel can start an outreach program for wayward athletes that need tattoos and can’t afford them.

Good stuff this is

June 22nd, 2011
1:56 pm

One more of 000s of reasons why College football is sooooooooooo much more fun that NFL. A Florida kids says he will go with UGA and a Georgia kid says he will go to U of Florida. They will get to know each other, likely become decent friends and follow each other’s careers and compete hard with each other.

Good luck to both young men and Goooooooooooooooooooo Dogs.

The Toe

June 22nd, 2011
2:07 pm

Don’t write off his blocks as though they weren’t his fault. No kicker should have a block if he hits it close to the 45 degree angle that should be his goal. Do the math and it takes a 21

The Toe

June 22nd, 2011
2:09 pm

foot leap to block a kick from the line of scrimmage that’s kicked at a 45 degree angle. While that’s a tough feat to accomplish on all kicks, it’s a goal and getting near that angle is easy.

Always a Jacket

June 22nd, 2011
2:09 pm

It will be fun to watch the game in Jacksonville and see which kid kicks the winner.

Gator Bob

June 22nd, 2011
2:40 pm

Gators got themselves a great kicker!! Don’t worry, Georgia, you guys got our state’s best kicker and we got yours, I guess we’re even haha.

John

June 22nd, 2011
2:46 pm

BigTime, what if Morgan kicks the game winner against Tech? That would be wild! Haha or maybe Murray can just continue to tear up your defense again the next 3 years and we won’t need the kickers.

Gator Bob

June 22nd, 2011
2:48 pm

I’m pumped that Muschamp was able to get the kid to commit. Georgia always has good kickers and punters, so I’m not surprised they got Morgan and from what I’ve heard a really good punter. It’s probably Richt’s best area he’s recruited.

John

June 22nd, 2011
2:58 pm

Well, obviously I’m not happy that Florida got a commitment from a really good kicker, but at least we got a really good one too. Honestly, I’d much rather Florida get him than Auburn, I hate Auburn.

Marist insider

June 22nd, 2011
3:03 pm

Austin was handed to Georgia on a silver platter by Marist’s coaches and Rex Robinson … and that “wannabe recruiting coordinator” at Georgia John Lilly voted against the rest of the staff and offered the Marshall kid instead. It was because of the FSU connections when Lilly was there. We were broken hearted but life goes on.

KJ

June 22nd, 2011
3:06 pm

“BigTime, what if Morgan kicks the game winner against Tech?”

Well, that would be a moral victory for Tech, if they only lost to UGA by 3 points or fewer.

Ringleader

June 22nd, 2011
3:07 pm

Strange………………………

Auburn reported to the Birmingham News that he commited to them last Sunday.

jsmtih

June 22nd, 2011
3:14 pm

best private school in the south ?? i hope uga didnt mess things up at that football factory marist?? they put out tons of top college talent every year?? lol

Cobb Dawg

June 22nd, 2011
3:17 pm

As long as each team has a kicker with range, consistency and the mental ability to deliver under pressure, then both schools are in good shape. I’d say it’s a wash. Bloggers, please don’t waste a lot of time and energy trying to decide which one is better — it’s not like they’ll be facing each other across the line of scrimmage.

Cobb Dawg

June 22nd, 2011
3:19 pm

And to Marist dad: I never buy the notion that any college “blows” its chances with any particular HS. These things come and go, and this year’s indignant HS parents will be parents of college freshmen next year and no longer in the equation. UGA mended fences at Carver-Columbus after an apparent “death sentence” had been rendered there a couple of years ago — I suspect they’ll survive this one as well.

baloney

June 22nd, 2011
3:19 pm

Since he chose UF over UGA I bet UGA didn’t even want him.

Vampire Bill

June 22nd, 2011
3:22 pm

Both schools got a good kicker.. End of story

LagDawg

June 22nd, 2011
3:26 pm

So, if he’s the number one kicker in the nation and from the state of Ga., why didn’t Richt offer the kid. My question is, who is evaluating the recruits at UGA. It appears that someone needs a class on evaluating talent and developing it.

CountryBlumpkin

June 22nd, 2011
3:32 pm

UGA signed a kicker long ago…So I am guessing that was a sign that you are correct, baloney. We aren’t going to sign two kickers in one class.

Douglas

June 22nd, 2011
3:35 pm

As a UGA alum, why is Florida even worried about having to beat us by a field goal? I don’t remember most of the games against them in the last 20 years being that close other than the few UGA won.

Douglas

June 22nd, 2011
3:37 pm

Marist is the best private school? You can’t even beat St. Pius in football and they are a smaller school.

Dawg Pride

June 22nd, 2011
3:41 pm

Heck, Florida beat us last year on a field goal by their dadgum PUNTER. They don’t need the best kicker in the country to beat CMR.

Best Wishes

June 22nd, 2011
3:42 pm

Best wishes to the young man. I wish he had taken his talents to Wake Forest or some other school that the Dawgs never face.

BG

June 22nd, 2011
3:47 pm

Florida’s number 1 kicker is a DAWG!!!!!!!

Destin Dawg

June 22nd, 2011
3:47 pm

we do have 2 kickers in 2012 class.. BOTH can Punt and kick F.G’s… just in case ?

Bring Back Wally Butts

June 22nd, 2011
3:51 pm

On their web site, Kohl’s says that to be considered, you had to attend one of their camps. Austin obviously did and Morgan probably did not. How else would you explain him not being listed on their site at all, especially if he is as good a kicker as UGA and posters on this blog say.

gadawgs

June 22nd, 2011
3:55 pm

Wally you are correct. The reason Kohl’s does not list Marshall is because he has not attended any of their camps and as you stated that is a prerequisite to be evaluated and ranked by them. Anyone that has any doubts about Marshall’s leg strength and ability just go to you tube and check him out. Trust me the guy can hammer it.

GrantparkGator

June 22nd, 2011
3:59 pm

WallyButt- IIRC Marshall took part in the camp in Gainesville this winter but didn’t have a good showing. Its a reason UF didn’t “offer” and FSU took a soccer player instead.

Lexi

June 22nd, 2011
3:59 pm

By “best private school in the south” perhaps the writer meant that Marist develops serious scholar athletes who are reverent gentlemen and gentlewomen highly equipped for the rigors of serious college study, as contrasted with the typical government run, taxpayer funded football/basketball factory which off-loads onto college campuses ill-mannered, future inmates-in-training who, though steeped in “self-esteem,” speak, think and behave badly, listen to bad “music” and dress worse. Marist wins the AAAA Directors Cup (playing up) every year as the best overall high school sports program and sends many of its grads to college on athletic scholarships. Those students succeed there and beyond.

Dawg Tired

June 22nd, 2011
4:05 pm

who knows how good either kid really is? Only time will tell.

Bring Back Wally Butts

June 22nd, 2011
4:06 pm

So I got one “he attended Kohl’s camp but didn’t do well” from a gator fan and one “he didn’t attend Kohl’s camp” from a dawg fan. Which is it? Anyone know?

Yeah, an oh buy the way, we all agree that Marist is a fine school and produces only ladies and gentlemen as differentiated from the general population. That would certainly be my story line if I spent a gazillion dollars educating my kid in a private setting.

Lexi

June 22nd, 2011
4:09 pm

Oh Douglas: St Pius X (AAA school) enrolled 1061 high school students in grades 9-12 last year. Marist (AAAA school) had 1076 students in grades 7-12, that is, middle school and high school.

Herschel Talker

June 22nd, 2011
4:10 pm

Typical Mark Richt idiocy. His idiot assistant offers the wrong kicker because of his loyalty from his FSU days. The madness never ends. So while I’m sure Morgan is a fine kicker, clearly Bozo Richt and his fellow stooges picked the wrong one, and the one he didn’t pick lives in Georgia! What a fool!

Wait till next year...

June 22nd, 2011
4:10 pm

Can you have a Dream Team without the nation’s #1 kicker… Oh dear!

gadawgs

June 22nd, 2011
4:12 pm

All I know Wally is I saw him kick off from the 40 and put it through the uprights several times and out of the end zone everytime. I find it hard to believe that the number 1 kicker in FL with his leg would not be ranked at all EVEN if he performed poorly at their camp which leads me to believe he did not participate. Again, watch his highlights and compare them to Austin and they are identical. Austin’s longest FG is 59 and Marshall’s is 52 but contends he is good up to 60. Even Scout.com says that he may have the strongest leg in the nation and they do not even rank kickers.

UGA_2001

June 22nd, 2011
4:18 pm

Traitor. I would’ve gone somewhere cool like UCLA, Texas or ND. Florida? You’re playing in a hot and humid swamp that looks like a bright orange box. And they’re going to suck for a while.

GrantparkGator

June 22nd, 2011
4:18 pm

@Butts from the reports on Gators rival site he attending the Gainesville camp this winter same weekend he made a visit to UF. Then he trip to FSU but Noles offered the soccer kid from South Lake HS instead. FYI FL #1 kicker is the FSU commi for you Dawgs “star gazers”.

Beast from the East

June 22nd, 2011
4:19 pm