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CFL Free Agent Prospect: From DB to LB the Career of Brooklyn Hardiman

Back in the early days of professional football, the safety position was used in a much different manner than we see today. With the role closer to that of a box safety, and more focused on run support than protecting against the deep pass. Linebackers went from 6’4 260 pounds on average to down to 6’2 220-230 pounds to help cover tight ends and running backs. Guys who were previously used as linebackers now were seeing time as designated pass rushers. Teams were using more speed all over the field to counteract the passing offenses they saw beginning to dominate pro football.

History of the Forward Pass

Ever since  Bradbury Robinson threw the first legal forward pass in the season opener on September 5th, 1906, leagues have been incorporating more and more passing. It’s no secret to fans that passing makes the game much more exciting. Pass plays will more often result in large chunk gains as opposed to the smaller steady gains the ground game offers.

While early in football teams opted to be cautious and instead focus on running the ball, in the modern era it is less likely than ever to see a run-heavy scheme find success in professional football.

With this evolution of the game came an evolution of how we view certain positions. Back in the early days of professional football, the safety position was used in a much different manner than we see today. With the role closer to that of a box safety, and more focused on run support than protecting against the deep pass. Linebackers went from 6’4 260 pounds on average to down to 6’2 220-230 pounds to help cover tight ends and running backs. Guys who were previously used as linebackers now were seeing time as designated pass rushers. Teams were using more speed all over the field to counteract the passing offenses they saw beginning to dominate pro football.

Modern Football

However, in the last decade or so, one position has been radically affected by the ever-increasing frequency of the passing game. Is the weakside linebacker position. Your Weakside linebacker or WILL as teams call it is often the linebacker used in coverage in the modern game.

More and more we are seeing former safeties and smaller faster linebackers put in this role to focus on a coverage role. Now it’s not often that you see many former cornerbacks moved to linebacker, but that’s exactly what has happened to Brooklyn Hardiman.

Brooklyn Hardiman

Hardiman is heading into pro football having made an extremely successful mid-career transition to linebacker from cornerback. In high school the 6’2 210 pound defensive back focused primarily on playing in the secondary, and lined up quite often in man-on-man coverage with receivers at this level.

Following a redshirt season with Southern Oregon, he would transfer to Los Medanos Community College. Here he would again play defensive back and primarily be used in coverage although he would occasionally add run support by design as well.

It wasn’t until he left Los Medanos and landed at Northern Arizona University with a solid coaching staff including former head coach Jerry Partridge who had 8 seasons as a defensive coordinator under his belt at the time, as well as head coach Chris Ball. Both coaches were in their first season with the program. Ball is another former defensive coordinator so Hardiman was in great hands.

Landing with a Defensive Staff

These defensive minds saw the 6’2 210 pound defensive back and saw a role for him at linebacker. They were quickly awarded when in his first season he would go on to play in all 12 games, starting 5 and rack up 69 tackles, 4 tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks, and 1 QB hit. Showing he belongs at linebacker right away.

Following the 2019 season, covid 19 derailed his 2020 season but this gave him another year to focus on playing linebacker before what would be his final season in 2021. He again transferred this time landing with Colorado Mesa University. CMU again asked him to play linebacker, now that he stood 6’2 230 pounds. He would again reward CMU for their faith by going out and playing in 10 games. His senior season he would finish with 44 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, and 2 QB hits. These may not have been eye-popping stats, but the former cornerback showed linebacker was the position for him at the next level.

Heading into the 2022 Draft Circuit, Brooklyn knew he was fighting a small school bias and a past that saw him play multiple positions until his junior year. Naturally, due to this, he intended to pursue multiple options to play professional football. One of those avenues he wanted to pursue was the Canadian Football League.

Hardiman actually would go on to attend pre-draft workouts with the CFL the first week of April, just a little over a month before the CFL draft, and just under 25 days before the NFL draft. Regardless of the league he lands in, the team that brings in Brooklyn Hardiman is getting an incredibly intelligent, driven, and hard-working young player who will play anywhere a coaching staff asks to get his chance.

You can check out my full interview with LB Brooklyn Hardiman Here:

Full Brooklyn Hardiman interview. On Shady Sports Network via Youtube.com.

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