Football Practice Report: April 25

Football Practice Report: April 25

coming: Outdoor practice fields

Format: Helmets and shorts

Isaiah Hardy considers himself a guy who likes a challenge. He certainly proved that the last few months.

Hardy is a second-year law student at the University of Oregon who originally hails from Sacramento, Calif. He’s also a former high school football standout who has always had the itch to get back on the field.

So when the Oregon football team advertised walk-on tryouts on social media over the winter, Hardy took notice. Initially he quoted the football tryout announcement with a humorous comment from his own Twitter page, not necessarily expressing serious interest.

But there’s truth in humor, of course. And several friends reached out with encouragement.

“You know when you say things that are kind of a joke, but it’s really serious? It was kind of one of those situations,” Hardy said.

And that’s how Hardy found himself showing up for the tryout, and being selected to join the Oregon football team as a defensive back for practices this spring, and doing so as the rare student-athlete to balance both law school classes and college athletics at the same time.

Because of his eligibility clock, Hardy is unsure if he’ll even have the chance to come out for football again in the fall. But even if this spring was his only chance to play college football, Hardy is grateful for it.

“The bonds that I created with my teammates, especially in the corner room, the DB room, are so dope,” Hardy said. “The coaches are cool. And then, it built character. I’m a man that likes a challenge, and I saw this as a challenge. And it’s all worked out. I’m a believer, and I know God has a plan for me. God gave me this opportunity for a reason, so it was obviously something I couldn’t pass up. It was so awesome.”

Hardy played two years of varsity football at Antelope High outside of Sacramento, intercepting three passes as a senior. He graduated in 2016 – hence his tight eligibility window at this point – and enrolled at San Diego State. The Aztecs didn’t select Hardy from a walk-on tryout there, but that didn’t quash his passion for the game.

After finishing his undergraduate degree, Hardy received a full-tuition scholarship to study at the University of Oregon’s School of Law beginning in the fall of 2020. Due to the pandemic, his first year of study was online. Hardy finally arrived in Eugene last August, to resume his studies in person with the goal of getting into sports law, whether as an agent or in some other capacity.

“Playing the game I love at one of the most prominent football schools in America is something I’ll be able to tell my future kids about one day,” Hardy said.

Spring semester for the law school began January 18, and Hardy joined the football team only a few weeks later. He said practicing with the Ducks has been like taking on “another five-unit class” – one he was happy to make sacrifices in his life to experience.

Oregon’s final spring practice was Monday, “kind of the perfect time” for Hardy with final exams coming up at the law school in mid-May. He has time to focus on his exams, after his law school instructors and fellow students got to see him in uniform at Saturday’s Spring Game for the football team.

“They’re excited,” Hardy said. “People were at the spring game taking pictures. They sent emails saying it was cool to see me out there. So the whole law school is excited, which is dope to have them behind my back on this.”

Notable: In years past the Ducks have wrapped up spring practices with the Spring Game, but this year they held practice No. 15 following the game. Monday’s practice was without pads but otherwise was like the other 12 non-scrimmage days for the Ducks this spring. … OU coach Dan Lanning told players afterward they’ll meet with coaches to review their progress from the spring and plot individual paths forward. “We have an opportunity to continue to get better – the work doesn’t stop,” Lanning told the team. “If you want to make your weakness a strength, work at it.”

quotable:

offensive coordinator Kenny Dillinghamon taking a deep shot on the first play Saturday
“We just wanted to be aggressive. You want to put pressure on a defense, so we tried to treat the Spring Game like a game.”

defensive coordinator Tosh Lupoion seeing his defense force five turnovers Saturday
“It’s a proven fact that if we can be a plus-one or plus-two or plus-three ratio in the turnover stat, we greatly increase our chance to win. So that’s what we’re going to do – we’re going to constantly reinforce that. That’s part of our defensive culture, is to get the ball out.”

Post-practice interviews:

offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham

defensive coordinator Tosh Lupoi

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