Visiting this weekend, South Carolina football DL target now rated #1 in JuCo ranks

South Carolina football defensive line target Zavion Hardy now is the #1-ranked junior college player in the country.
South Carolina football flag
South Carolina football flag / Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union / USA

South Carolina football coach Shane Beamer and his staff put together a very nice 2023 recruiting class. Big-name prospects like 5-star athlete Nyck Harbor and 4-star players like LaNorris Sellers, Tree Babalade, Desmond Umeozulu, Jalon Kilgore, and a host of others.

However, one 4-star Gamecock commitment from the class did not sign with USC during the Early Signing Period or on the traditional National Signing Day that year. Zavion Hardy, a defensive lineman from the state of Georgia, wound up going to junior college before making his debut in big-time college football.

Enrolling at East Mississippi Community College ahead of the 2023 season, Hardy showed that he was still a prospect worth monitoring as the South Carolina football program was one of many that re-offered the hybrid defensive end/defensive tackle.

When 247Sports updated their junior college recruiting player rankings, Hardy found himself vaulted to the top: he now is the #1 junior college defensive lineman and the #1 junior college player, regardless of position, in those rankings.

In his first of what will be two seasons at East Mississippi, Hardy logged 3.5 sacks but put some good things on film.

Hardy is listed at 6'5" and 260 pounds. That is a quality size for a strongside defensive end, and if he adds any mass, he could kick inside to play an athletic defensive tackle role. If he were to re-up his previous re-commitment to the Gamecocks, he could fit nicely as one of the big defensive ends in the 3-3-5 front.

Landing Hardy won't be easy, though. The big man from Howard High School has current offers from a long list of SEC programs, including the Georgia Bulldogs, Alabama Crimson Tide, Auburn Tigers, Ole Miss Rebels, Arkansas Razorbacks, Florida Gators, Oklahoma Sooners, and Mississippi State Bulldogs.

Hardy had said that he was "still a Gamecock" after announcing his signing last year with East Mississippi, but it is far from a guarantee that he will wind up in Columbia. He is set to visit the South Carolina football program this weekend.

You can watch some of his film here.

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