Rams exterior linebacker Daniel Hardy’s relentless work ethic, selflessness lead him to NFL

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When Daniel first joined Montana State, he began out on the kick groups on particular groups. He excelled in that position so properly, his coaches shortly realized they wanted to search out different methods for him to make an impression, so that they started giving him extra tasks in scrimmage conditions.

And as he developed in faculty, he leaned on the acquainted need to listen to the reality and willingness to be taught he displayed in highschool.

Daniel began out at exterior linebacker to the sector – also referred to as the SAM linebacker – and was fighting cross protection and accountability, in addition to run protection and run suits. Even with follow within the morning, college in the course of the day, and place conferences within the afternoons and nights, he would cease by Risinger’s workplace and go over coverages to attempt to perceive the fundamentals of what his coaches have been educating.

“I imply, he was most likely third or fourth string, he was a scout workforce man,” Risinger stated. “However he was type of sick of his position and needed to enhance, and he simply requested if we might begin from day one and go over the fundamentals, so he can get a greater understanding. That perspective in the direction of every little thing, it doesn’t matter what his position or state of affairs was on the workforce – ‘Okay, what might I do higher? What might I do subsequent and put every little thing into that?’ – that is the kind of child he’s. Nobody else from a special place group had ever got here to me and talked to me about wanting further conferences on protection and cross tasks and all that stuff.”

As Risinger realized this about Daniel, he additionally realized that Daniel could possibly be, properly, cussed. However in a great way.

Whereas placing collectively his spectacular 2021 season, Daniel nonetheless saved his position on particular groups. The teaching employees tried to choose spots earlier than going again on protection the place they may probably get Daniel a breather, however Daniel would by no means allow them to take him off the sector.

“He by no means took a snap off like that, and he would get upset,” Risinger stated. “What he advised me was that this was his first position when he first obtained right here, and it did not matter if we was a starter or enjoying each single down, he needed to be sure that he was higher when he left than he was when he began right here. He type of had that sense of pleasure the place that was his first job and first position right here, and needed to complete the job.”

The identical drive that might be wanted once more as he took on an even bigger activity.

When Daniel arrived on campus, he stood 6-foot-3 and weighed 210 kilos – fairly a methods away from the 6-3, 240 body he had as a senior final yr.

A brand new teaching employees arrived in 2021, and together with it, a scheme change from a 3-down entrance to a 4-down entrance. Defensive position coach Shawn Howe stated they watched movie on all the exterior linebackers to find out the place they match finest in a 4-2-5, 4-3 scheme – was this participant a defensive finish, or an inside linebacker? In Daniel’s case, he was such a great rusher and edge participant, they felt defensive finish was the most effective match.

Daniel had achieved his analysis on Howe, too, and knew he had coached gamers who made it to the NFL, so he needed to know what it might take.

He was met with a humbling – however equally motivating – reply.

“And I advised him, I stated, ‘Look, Daniel, first off, you are not even sufficiently big to begin having that speak,” Howe stated. “I do not even assume you could possibly play exterior linebacker on the weight you are at, I do not assume you possibly can play d-end. And he stated, ‘Okay, properly how a lot do I must weigh?’ And I stated, ‘You might want to be 245 kilos subsequent yr to essentially actually put your self in a dialog for out of doors backer.’

“Instantly, he began consuming like probably the most disciplined factor I’ve ever seen.”

Daniel stated placing on that weight concerned consuming “actually simply something and every little thing” as a result of he loses weight so shortly. It was the identical factor over and over: Two packages of oatmeal within the morning, then a bowl of cereal, a bagel and a few juice as soon as he obtained to the power. After follow, eat breakfast once more. Generally he must get up in the course of the evening and throw in an additional meal, like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a 1,300-calorie shake earlier than mattress.

Howe stated Daniel would set an alarm for 3 a.m. each evening in order that he might get up every evening, get up, eat, after which return to mattress. Daniel would additionally ship Howe an image of him on the dimensions each single day.

“No matter it takes,” Daniel stated.

Not solely did it gas vital muscle development, it additionally set the stage for an unimaginable 2021 season during which Daniel recorded the sixth-most sacks within the FCS (16.5) and the third-most tackles for loss (24.5) in Montana State historical past after making the swap from exterior linebacker to defensive finish. He was acknowledged accordingly as a Second Group All-America by HERO and Stats Carry out and First-Group All-Huge Sky choice.

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