The strange recruitment of four-star defensive lineman Jay Hardy came to an end on Saturday.

Or actually it came to an end in December.

But the Tennessee Vols found out about it on Saturday. Auburn, the team Hardy signed with, knew about it in December.

Got all that?

The Vols continued to recruit Hardy past December because the Chattanooga native told reporters, and presumably coaches, he wasn’t signing until February.

Hardy continued to talk to reporters in recent weeks as if he was still trying to decide where he was going to sign.

VolQuest, however, reported on Saturday that Hardy signed with Auburn in December. Hardy refuted the report on Twitter, but a short time later the Tigers announced he’d signed.

This whole scenario could’ve been prevented by two things.

  1. Jay Hardy not deceiving Tennessee coaches/reporters.
  2. Tennessee coaches following up on the NCAA database to see if Hardy signed a NLI.

According to VolQuest’s Austin Price, Tennessee checked the database when the early signing period ended. Hardy’s name wasn’t listed. At that point, they assumed Hardy was delaying his signing until February (which is what he said he was doing).

Now, there were some rumblings over the last few weeks that Hardy had already signed at Auburn. Perhaps at that point UT’s coaches could’ve checked the database again just to make sure. But it’s understandable why they didn’t.

Until you get burned, you have no reason to expect someone is going to burn you.

I’m not sure what Hardy’s motives were. It would be unwise to speculate. But it’s obvious he was stringing Tennessee along. And Auburn went along with it.

This whole thing was certainly a strange situation. The Vols made a mistake by not following up on the database, but it’s a mistake that won’t be made again.

Remember, this is only Jeremy Pruitt’s third signing period as a head coach. He doesn’t have nearly as much experience at this as some of his fellow head coaches.

And as Oscar Wilde said in The Picture of Dorian Gray “Experience is merely the name men gave to their mistakes”.

Jeremy Pruitt still has a lot of mistakes in front of him. But as long as he learns from them, they can be a good thing.

I have no doubt he learned from this one.

Featured image via Randy Sartin/USA Today
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