Hardy takes new view on recruiting

Mountain View head football coach Tim Hardy speaks with a college coach during the Touchdown Club of Gwinnett recruiting fair Monday at the Gwinnett Center.

Mountain View head football coach Tim Hardy speaks with a college coach during the Touchdown Club of Gwinnett recruiting fair Monday at the Gwinnett Center.

DULUTH -- Tim Hardy has been to dozens of high school recruiting fairs over the years. As a former college coach at Wheaton College in Chicago, Hardy made trips to places all over the country. Just last year he was at the Gwinnett County Touchdown Club recruiting fair checking out some of the top players for Wheaton.

On Monday at the Gwinnett Civic Center, he was on the other side of the table. The first-year Mountain View head football coach was promoting his players, not recruiting them at this year's recruiting fair.

"It's sort of weird because I'm used to being on the other side of the table," Hardy said. "I know what they want being a former college coach, so I was prepared for this."

The Gwinnett Touchdown Club Recruiting Fair attracted 55 high schools from Metro Atlanta, including 20 from Gwinnett County. Meadowcreek was the only school without a representative. More than 100 college coaches were on hand throughout the day to recruit high school players.

"The purpose of this is to expose the players," Gwinnett Touchdown Club President Dave Hunter said. "It also helps the smaller schools -- the Division I-AA, Division II, Division III and NAIA -- because they can come to one spot and see 50 or 60 schools at one time."

Hardy wasn't the only Gwinnett County head coach with college experience. First-year Hebron head coach Brian Smith was the head coach at North Greenville University from 2002-03.

"When I was at North Greenville these kinds of things were huge for us. To hit all these schools in one day is big," Smith said. "It's no different being a head coach or college recruiter. I'm selling my kids to them instead of selling the college to the players. It's really worth it for the kids."

Mountain View and Archer are first-year schools and Hebron completed its second year of football. So all three schools weren't as big on promoting the few seniors they have as much as letting coaches know about their programs.

"We have a handful of seniors we're trying to promote," Hardy said. "The biggest things we're trying to get the Mountain View name out there as a place in Gwinnett they can come recruit players they want on their team."

Most of the Gwinnett schools had information sheets on their top senior players, including height, weight, test scores, phone numbers, mailing addresses, e-mail address and other biographical information.

Highlight tapes played on flat-screen TVs at the Collins Hill table and on laptop computers for other schools.

"Coach Hunter and his crew do an amazing job keeping Gwinnett football alive and setting this up," Archer head coach Andy Dyer said. "It's simple for the coaches to just set up and give out information. It's great for us, the colleges and the communities. There's no where you can go see all these schools."

This year the NCAA banned Division I and I programs from attending high school recruiting fairs, so the usual big name coaches were not in attendance. That left many Division II, Division III and NAIA programs with the opportunity to check out the area's top uncommitted players.

"This place has been great for our program and players that are not Division I. This has really benefited our program," Mill Creek head coach Shannon Jarvis said. "This is why so many kids from Gwinnett go to college because the college coaches get their info here."

Last year Gwinnett County had 64 players sign football scholarships on National Signing Day. National Signing Day, which is the first day a player can sign a letter of intent, is Feb. 3 for the 2010 senior class.

"Any kids that can get some financial help from this, makes this event successful," Hunter said.