Place: Outdoor driving ranges
Format: Helmets and shorts
Isaiah Hardy considers himself a guy who likes a challenge. He has certainly proven that in recent months.
Hardy is a second-year law student at the University of Oregon, originally from Sacramento, California. He is also a former high school football player who always wanted to get back on the field.
So when the Oregon football team announced walk-in 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 is 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.
if you see me there, watch out
– ROBUST ???? (@IsaiahHardyy) January 27, 2022
And that’s how Hardy found himself trying out and being selected to join the Oregon football team as a defensive back for practices this spring, and doing it as a that rare student-athlete to balance both law school and varsity athletics at the same time.
Due to his eligibility clock, Hardy doesn’t know if he’ll even have the chance to return for football in the fall. But even though this spring was his only chance to play college football, Hardy is grateful.
“The bonds I’ve made 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 who likes a challenge, and I saw it as a challenge. And everything went well. I’m a believer and I know that God has a plan God gave me this opportunity for a reason, so obviously it was something that I couldn’t pass up. It was so awesome.
Hardy played two years of college football at Antelope High outside 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 on a walk-in trial, but that didn’t negate his passion for the game.
After completing his undergraduate studies, Hardy received a full scholarship to study at the University of Oregon Law School beginning in fall 2020. Due to the pandemic, his freshman year study took place 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 another capacity.
“Playing the game I love at one of America’s premier football schools is something I can tell my future kids about one day,” Hardy said.
Law school’s spring semester began on January 18, and Hardy didn’t join the football team until a few weeks later. He said training with the Ducks was like taking “another five-unit course” — a course he was happy to sacrifice in his life for.
Oregon’s last spring training was Monday, “sort of the perfect time” for Hardy with final exams coming up at law school in mid-May. He has time to concentrate on his exams, after his law professors and classmates saw 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 there. So the whole law school is excited, which is great to have them have behind my back on this.”
Notable: In years past, the Ducks wrapped up spring practices with the Spring Game, but this year they held practice #15 after the game. Monday’s practice was without pads, but other than that it was like the other 12 days without a scrimmage for the Ducks this spring. … OU Coach Dan Lanning told the players afterwards that they would meet with the coaches to review their progress since the spring and chart individual paths forward. “We have the opportunity to keep improving – the work doesn’t stop,” Lanning told the team. “If you want to turn your weakness into a strength, work on it.”
Offensive Coordinator Kenny Dillinghamtaking a deep shot in the first game on 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 Lupoiwatching his defense force five turnovers on Saturday
“It’s a proven fact that if we can be a ratio of plus one or plus two or plus three in the turnover statistic, we greatly increase our chances of winning. So that’s what we’re going to do – we’re going to constantly reinforce that. It’s part of our defensive culture, it’s getting the ball out.”
Offensive Coordinator Kenny Dillingham
defensive coordinator Tosh Lupoi