Oct. 1, 2016
When running back Bo Hardy takes the field Saturday against Miami, it will be the culmination of a journey that nearly took him five years, two schools and two positions.
The 23-year old, who was born and raised in Galloway, has been playing football for about 16 years, mostly spent at the running back position.
But Hardy hasn't always been a Bobcat. Before coming to Ohio in 2014, he played for two years at Capital University, a Division III school.
His first year at Capital went well, as he rushed for 427 yards and four touchdowns.
Soon, football changed drastically for him, as Capital hired Craig Candeto as the new head coach. With the new coach came a foreign triple option offense. Hardy questioned if he wanted to stay.
Candeto convinced him to, but his role in the backfield would change.
Hardy was forced to switch from half back to fullback, and in a scrimmage against Denison he injured his ankle. He played through the injury, but about four weeks into the season his ankle was continuing to hurt him, so Candeto moved him to the wingback position.
Around this time he was questioning his time spent at Capital academically, too. His original plan of majoring in nursing hadn't unfolded as he thought it would. They didn't have many other health care fields to major in, he said, ultimately resulting in applying and transferring to Ohio.
Becoming a Bobcat
When Hardy enrolled at Ohio, he had to work his way onto the team. On one of the first days he was on campus, he went to Peden Stadium, knocking on the football office’s door and asked when walk-on tryouts would be held.
What ensued was months of tryouts. He had to participate in his first tryout by himself, due to having an exam during the scheduled time. What amazed the coaches was his 40-yard dash time of 4.36. After advancing to the next stages, Hardy was officially invited to spring camp.
And then he made the team, knowing he would have to sit out the next football season.
“It is mentally exhausting,” Hardy said about knowing he would have to sit out the next season. “I was just really focusing on becoming a better player because I was just so beat up. When you love football and love what you do, it wasn't too hard.”
The next season, the first he was eligible to play, he rushed five times for 69 yards.
Entering his last year of eligibility, and knowing his time would be limited at running back as he was behind experienced backs such as A.J. Ouellette and Papi White, Hardy made the shift to safety.
“I had him for two years but he just got behind Papi and Maleek (Irons) and Dorian (Brown) and A.J,” running backs coach Tim Albin said. “So entering his senior year he just didn't want to sit on the sidelines. He said, ‘Hey, coach, I want to switch to safety.’ I didn't want to lose him, but I totally understand.”
Hardy made the switch, making it look smooth, the same way he did at Capital when he was bounced around the backfield. He started to see action early on in 2016, seeing snaps on defense and special teams.
But then the running back group he was once a part of started to become depleted, week by week.
Ouellette went down with a season ending injury in week one against Texas State.
Irons got hurt late in the first half against Kansas.
Brown went down early in the second half against No. 14 Tennessee.
White didn't play at all in the second half while true freshman Vinny Emanuele was hit hard in the third quarter against Gardner-Webb.
Suddenly, Hardy was at running back again as the only available option.
Back to the beginning
Hardy would finish the Gardner-Webb game with 65 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries.
He had to learn some plays on the fly, but was mostly just running power and toss plays, plays he had been running since a small age.
“Hardy is a pretty confident young man,” head coach Frank Solich said. “We had to take him off a special team or two to give him a little bit of a break. He’s extremely confident in himself on both sides of the ball and he’s one of the fastest guys on our football team. So there’s a reason you can put him in that kind of position. He’s a tough football player. So that all amounts to giving him a chance to be somewhat special on both sides of the ball and the kicking game.”
This week has been all about getting Hardy reacquainted with the position, as it is unsure if he will be the starter or the second string running back.
Either way, he will be ready Saturday to help his fellow Bobcats win another mug against Mid-American Conference rival Miami.
It’s the start of a new season for 2-2 Ohio, as it will hope to start the path to winning its first MAC Championship since 1968.
Hardy is just ready to play.
“Deep down, I love playing running back,” he said with a smile.