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August 28, 2021

Duke Athlete Offers Advice on Recruiting and Dual Sport Athletics

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LRT sports sat down with Duke University’s Joe Hardison to talk recruiting and being a dual athlete in college.

  • POSITION (FOOTBALL): Wide Receiver 
  • POSITION (LACROSSE): Defensive Midfielder
  • HEIGHT: 5-10
  • WEIGHT: 175
  • CLASS: Senior
  • HOMETOWN: Darien, Conn.
  • HIGHSCHOOL: The Taft School

Joe Hardison is currently in his senior year at Duke University. Previous to Duke, Joe was a four-year varsity letterman and Captain of the Football team at The Taft School where he logged 51 tackles, 2 interceptions, 342 receiving yards, and 3 touchdowns. He is now a member of the Duke Football team, where he has seen action in seven games. 

Source: Duke football roster

In addition to his status on the Football team, Joe is also an active member of the Duke Men’s Lacrosse team, where he competes as a defensive midfielder with some of the best athletes Division I lacrosse has to offer. Prior to his lacrosse career at Duke, Joe was a Varsity Lacrosse letterman at the Taft School as well, and served as captain his senior year, while earning all-league honors. 

To add to his impressive resume, Joe is also training in the Reserve Officers Training Corps for the US Army. 

Related: Dual Athlete Offers Recruiting Advice “You Want a Coach That Can Mold You”

Football – What is the best advice that Coach Cutcliffe gave you or the team?

The Man’s Rule – “Be where you’re supposed to be, doing what you’re supposed to be doing, as best as you can possibly do it.”

  1. Tucking in shirts, being dressed and ready for meetings 5 mins early – every detail matters
  2. “If you can’t do the little things right, there is no way you can do the big things right.”
  3. “Champions make habits of doing things losers don’t like to do.”

Related coach rating: David Cutcliffe

Lacrosse – What is the best advice that Coach Danowski gave you or the team?

Be confident. It’s easy to practice and be good at the things you are already good at; real winners are those who practice what they are bad at because they dont give a shit about what other people say or think, as long as they are making themselves better. Have fun with everything – laugh at yourself when you fuck up, laugh at others, enjoy doing what you do because one day you wont be able to do it anymore.

Related coach rating: John Danowski

What advice do you have for a high school athlete on how to get noticed by the Duke coaches? Any specific tournaments or camps to attend? 

In my opinion, the best way to get things done is through your high school or club coaches. Have them talk to the duke coaches and figure out what they think the most important camp, prospect day, tournament, etc. is for you to attend. You see a bunch of these recruiting events will end up being “money traps:” coaches aren’t even really watching but still getting paid.

If you’re serious about wanting to go to a school, go to the events that matter (which can be found out through a close relationship between your high school coaches and the college coach – not the college coach and the general public).

Related school rating: Duke University

How important are recruiting videos? What are some dos and don’ts? 

Duke coaches will watch tons of tape on recruits to see if they are interested. You would be surprised at the amount of comments I’ve heard from our coaches on the music, grammar/spelling, and framing of your tape. Don’t think it doesn’t matter what music or what slides you want the public to see, because it does.

Related: Florida Southern College Men’s Basketball Coach, Mike Donnelly, Talks Do’s and Don’ts of Highlight Tapes and Social Media

When recruits meet coaches, what should they be looking for in a coach?

A genuinely good person first, good coach second. [You] want the coach who cares about his players as people. All sports, all coaches, doesn’t matter – want to know they have your back on and off the field.

What are some red flags that recruits should be looking for on official visits?

Pay close attention to the “vibes” of the team and how each member of the team interacts (on/off the field) – want it to be close and inclusive to the point that you are a family. In my opinion not every player is going to love and be best friends with every player, but everyone MUST have a mutual respect for eachother – even if he is not “your boy.”

Listen to the coaches and see if their expectations of you as a player at their college aligns with your expectations of what you want your college experience to be like. [If you] want to party a lot and go out every night – DI probably isn’t your place. With that said, I did not want the coaches to tell me you can never go out and never have a social life. If a coach said “we are a dry team and can never go out in-season” – I crossed them off the list.

Related: Stereotyping, the Unjustified Step in the Recruiting Process

What are two questions that all recruits should be asking coaches before they commit?

  • Where do you see me (as a player) in this program?
  • What are the team goals?
    • Want them to be BIG goals – win a national championship, win a conference title, etc.
    • Want to win! (in my opinion)

Related: 37 Questions to Ask College Coaches Before You Commit

Should recruits be mentally prepared to play different positions if a coach should need them too? 

Absolutely – I started off in lacrosse as a defensive middie “trying out” for the team, but ended up being moved to Offensive middie and then back to defensive middie sophomore year. Just want to get on the field in whatever way possible.

Related: The Broken Promise from College Coaches

If Duke coaches are actively recruiting, how often should a recruit keep in touch with them, and what should they be updating them on? 

Read the situation and make the call when necessary. Coaches have a lot of recruits and their current team to keep them very busy; it’s easy to get overlooked. Don’t think you are being annoying – I was always nervous to call or text these coaches because I was scared that they would be like “this kid won’t stop I’m never taking him,” but in reality that is not the case and you will ultimately end up being their guy.

If you could change one thing about your recruiting process, what would that be? 

Lose the stress and trust your ability. For a long time I had self doubt throughout the process, always questioning whether I was good enough to even play D3 since I wasn’t getting the offers from anywhere that mattered. Shut that shit up, lock it down and keep grinding. 

“Trust the process” – Joe Stein

How did you juggle your recruiting process as a dual sport athlete? Did both coaches make it an easy process for you?

Originally did a bunch of recruiting events for lacrosse because I thought that was my path. [I] had interest/offers from high division I teams for lacrosse, but none of them met my expectations of what I wanted in a school/team. First was recruiting for football [at Duke]on a preferred walk-on spot (not on scholarship but had a spot on the team day 1). Duke lacrosse coaches had heard of me throughout the process and contacted me asking if I was interested in doing both upon my arrival – which I definitely was interested in doing both.

Related: Alabama Football Player, Michael Collins, Gives Walk on Advice

For dual athletes, what would you say to them as far as parents or coaches pushing the athlete into choosing one sport?

I would say “fuck that.” Most college coaches love dual sport athletes because (in a way) each sport is the same – athletic ability, strength, speed, agility, etc. At the collegiate level, both football coaches and lacrosse coaches love that I do both because they know that I’ll be in shape and ready to go Day 1 because I’ve been playing the other sport all off-season.

“We know you will be ready for the Spring season because whatever you are doing over at football in the fall is probably more than our kids are doing in the fall (offseason)” – Coach D.

Related: College Recruiting Process | Tips for Parents

What set you apart in high school and allowed you to compete as a D1 athlete?

Being involved in as much as I could in my school. College coaches are humans and will see you are a genuinely good person if you are never getting in trouble, have good grades and don’t think you’re “too big for your britches.” Most coaches hate cocky, arrogant players – while some of that is needed on a playing field.

Like in college, make sacrifices – especially at a prep school, must make the decision of whether you want to be drinking or doing something you shouldn’t be doing on the weekends or follow the rules and keep your head down – I chose the latter.

Why Duke? What did they offer that no other DI college did?  

Whole family (both sides) is from North/South Carolina and used to vacation there a lot. [I was] familiar with the area and the people.

Obvious answer = combination of excellent academics with excellent athletics. Wanted to play with the best, even if that meant I wasn’t good enough.

What GPA/ACT/SAT should a potential recruit strive for if they want to play for Duke? 

A high GPA for sure – around a 3.7 or better. One question I was asked a bunch of times by all the colleges that I visited/looked into was “Do you have any C’s on your transcript?”

SAT/ACT is not as important as long as you’re within a certain range. My best SAT was a 

Do high school lacrosse or football players have to be in the top 3-5% in the country and a 3-year varsity starter in order to get recruited by Duke?

Absolutely not…actively reach out and stay committed – show you care. Not always the best player who gets recruited – I was not the star at these recruiting events – I was always called a “glue” player by coaches because I was not particularly “great” at one thing, but “good” at all things. Of course you read about the studs who get recruiting after one tournament or camp, but coaches are starting to find out that most of those “stars” as freshman in high school end up being busts.

Does Duke take on walk-ons for football and lacrosse? If so, how would a high school athlete start that process?

Duke is constantly looking for dual sport athletes because that helps both sports. Helps recruiting-wise “hey you can play both here if you really want to.” Reach out to your high school/club coach and devise a plan – he will know more about this whole process than you.

Related: Walk-On Warrior: Drive, Discipline, and the Will to Win

What makes a great Duke athlete?

Someone who genuinely ENJOYS the sport, works on his craft diligently (almost to an annoying level), [and] makes sacrifices. Sometimes that means not going out on the weekend or falling behind socially to make yourself a better player.

YOUR JOURNEY STARTS HERE