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.