University of Texas

Georgia’s Hardman on Sugar Bowl loss to Texas: ‘We should’ve won that game.’

Georgia WR Mecole Hardman on the NFL Combine: ‘I want to be the fastest there’

Georgia wide receiver Mecole Hardman is training at the home of a man who once held the title as "world's fastest man," Michael Johnson Performance. Hardman is hoping to be the fastest at the NFL Combine this year.
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Georgia wide receiver Mecole Hardman is training at the home of a man who once held the title as "world's fastest man," Michael Johnson Performance. Hardman is hoping to be the fastest at the NFL Combine this year.

The Texas Longhorns are back. Or so they declared after beating Georgia in the Sugar Bowl last month.

For Georgia wide receiver Mecole Hardman, who declared for the NFL Draft shortly after, that game still doesn’t sit well. It’s not how he envisioned ending his college career.

“There’s no excuse for us losing the Sugar Bowl,” said Hardman, who is training for the upcoming NFL Combine at Michael Johnson Performance.

“We should’ve won that game. There’s no excuse for how we played.”

Georgia scored its second fewest points of the season against Texas in a 28-21 loss, and Hardman finished with just one catch for 3 yards. His lone reception was for a touchdown, but that is no solace.

Hardman also believes Georgia was snubbed out of the College Football Playoff after falling to Alabama in the SEC Championship game, but doesn’t hold a grudge against the committee.

“I still get asked that question,” Hardman said, smiling. “I think everyone knew we were a top four team in the country, that was no question. Were we cheated? I don’t think so. I think the committee made the right choice of who they put in the playoffs, but we can’t go back on it now. I feel we were definitely a top four team.

“We could’ve proved that by beating Texas, but we didn’t, so I guess there’s some questions that say we weren’t a top four team. I think in reality we all know we were a top four team.”

Hardman is now focused on pursuing a professional career and is hoping to flash his speed at the Combine. He wouldn’t reveal a specific time he had in mind for the 40-yard dash, but knows the record is held by John Ross with a 4.22-second 40.

“My goal is to run fast and whatever the time says, it says,” Hardman said. “I’ve got an idea in my head. I’m confident about it, but right now I just want to run fast.”

But is he confident he’ll be among the fastest players at the Combine?

“Yeah, if not the fastest,” Hardman said. “I’m very confident in my speed and my ability to run fast, so that’s my goal is to be the fastest there.”

Hardman, who is 5-foot-11, 183 pounds, is viewed as a slot receiver and returner at the next level. He’s played defensive back in the past, but he’s fully committed to staying at wide receiver.

Hardman finished last season as Georgia’s second-leading receiver, hauling in 34 catches for 532 yards receiving and seven touchdowns. Seven of his catches went for at least 30 yards.

He also averaged 20.1 yards on punt returns.

Asked how he’d describe himself, Hardman said: “A do-it-all receiver. I believe in my abilities to catch short passes, deep passes, intermediate routes. I feel like I can block.

“When I step on the field, I’m probably the fastest on the field and the type of guy who can change the game in one play. Definitely a guy who is loyal to the team, going to play his all, give it his all.”

Dane Brugler, The Athletic’s NFL Draft analyst, has Hardman ranked as his No. 10 wide receiver in this year’s class.

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Drew Davison is the TCU and Big 12 sports writer for the Star-Telegram. He’s covered everything in DFW from Rangers to Cowboys to motor sports.

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