Kicker Hardin is Florida’s 13th commit for 2012

Two-star kicker Austin Hardin (Atlanta, GA) committed to become the newest member of the Florida Gators’ 2012 recruiting class on Wednesday.

“I went in to Coach [Will] Muschamp‘s office this morning and he offered,” Hardin told Keith Niebuhr of Rivals. “I told him I was 100 percent Gator. That’s where I wanted to be.”

According to Niebuhr, Hardin was informed by Florida that he will handle kickoffs immediately; he has been putting “kicks into and through the endzone” all summer.

With offers already on the table from Auburn and Tennessee, Hardin had also been looked at by Ole Miss and Virginia Tech (among others). He chose UF because of a combination of athletics and academics.

ESPNU evaluates him as “one of the top kickers in the nation” who has “huge field goal range” and has an impressive leg. Hardin kicked a game-winning 59-yard field goal for his high school team last season (see video below).

Hardin is ranked as the No. 10 kicker in the country by Rivals and No. 2 in the nation by ESPNU, which also gave him a three-star rating.

The Gators currently have redshirt junior kicker Caleb Sturgis as their starter. Sturgis, who was sidelined most of 2010 with multiple back injuries, is healthy and will likely hold the field goal kicking job for the next two years unless he is beat out by Hardin in 2012.

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12 Responses to “Kicker Hardin is Florida’s 13th commit for 2012”

  1. David says:

    We need a kicker, but we also need a lot of other things. I trust in Muschamp, but I’m getting nervous about us getting, and having room for, some studs.

  2. Mr2Bits says:

    Big get as you could see this past year how kicking issues can crush our team

  3. David says:

    The bigger recruiting news is that what appeared promising with Fowler allegedly opening up his recruiting in favor of Florida has now become more confusing since he cancelled a trip to Gainesville because of a doctor’s appointment ….

  4. Marc Mac says:

    David, I would chalk anything about Fowler up as “no recruiting news” for UF. Until he signs, I wouldn’t waste any valuable time on this kid. I’m not saying don’t allow him to visit, or check up on him, but I wouldn’t take time away from recruiting other kids.

    Adding this kicker and filling another spot might show some of the “top recruits” that we aren’t coddling anyone and if they want to be a Gator, they need to jump on the chance. Plus, you only need a good kicker every 2 or 3 years….

    • First paragraph is exactly what I was thinking. Didn’t want to reply and have it sound negative to David. There’s plenty to cover about the Gators…the story of a kid going back-and-forth about even visiting a second time is not worth covering at this point.

      • David says:

        Feel free to respond. I dont mean that we shouldnt be happy that we have a kicker. Sturgis was supposed to be an awesome kicker, and he has been OK (when not kicking the ball out of bounds on kickoffs). All I mean is that I thought the Fowler news was BIGGER new. Here is a rivals five-star recruit who was committed to FSU… then he seemed to pseudo-decommit. Now he cancels his trip with his parents because of a doctor’s appointment. I just meant that story line meant more to me than Hardin. That said, I’m happy we have Hardin.

        • My point is that the storyline is a bunch of crap. Who knows what part of it is true or isn’t. Him being a five-star, of course, makes him more important. But right now it’s story (commit) vs non-story.

        • scooterp says:

          Enough with Fowler – everytime this guy gets quoted he sounds like a jackass. I have no problem with a guy second guessing his commit to a school because of a coaching change or a change in study of a particular field, but to come out and say this university isn’t “showing me enough love” this week like this other university and playing games through the media, says one thing : FLAKE. Stop giving this dope so much attention. Please.

  5. Jesse C says:

    I’m excited about getting a quality kicker especially after seeing where the ball goes on his kickoffs. We’ve needed that element for a long time. So with Durkin stating that Hardin will be Sturgis’ replacement on kickoffs and FG’s, does that mean that Kyle Christy’s strength is punting? He hasn’t played a down on Gator football yet but I thought he was highly rated and would take over for Sturgis. Either way, with a solid kicker last year we would’ve won two more games and possibly the SEC east.

  6. scooterp says:

    I don’t claim to follow prospects in the kicking game very closely, but this guy seems impressive. The difference between a “pretty good” kicker and a special one, could mean 5-7 more wins over his career at a school….. And if Muschamp was ready to offer him a scholly this early it must mean that he feels he is special – I’m ok with that.

  7. Sarasota 'cane says:

    Matt Goudis was UF’s to lose and Meyer would not give him a schollie. His whole family went to UF (Mom, sister, cousins, aunts and uncles). He would have been UF’s starter by game three this season in my opinion on kickoffs, PAT’s and field goal attempts. I guess it’s just a timing thing. And anyone who thinks a stud kicker doesn’t deserve a schollie is nuts! FSU might have an extra title or three if they had recruited lockdown kickers in their heyday!! UM is lucky to have Matt!!