TEMPE, Ariz. — Indiana wide receiver James Hardy, a towering threat at 6-foot-7, has his own way of sizing up enemy defensive backs.
"I like to go to the line of scrimmage, bend down and look in their eyes to see what they think,” said Hardy, whose daunting size can create a shock effect bordering on fear.
Most of the time — if not at the start of games, then after — Hardy likes what he sees.
Come Monday in the Insight Bowl, Hardy will be peering past the facemasks of Oklahoma State's cornerbacks, seeking the insecurity that has become the norm.
Hardy, a first team All-Big Ten pick, ranks second nationally with 16 touchdown catches and is on his way to shattering the Indiana receiving records. Just a junior, he already ranks first in Hoosiers history in career receptions (186), receiving yards (2,690), receiving touchdowns (36) and 100-yard games (14).
This year, Hardy set the school single-season records with 74 catches and the 16 scores, while his 1,075 yards rank second all-time.
Hardy made such an impression on OSU linebacker Donovan Woods, he offered up the highest compliment — comparisons to big brother Rashaun, who rewrote OSU's receiving records.
"Their games are similar,” Donovan said. "The only difference is their guy is 6-7. But some of the things he does, they remind me of the way Rashaun played.”
That includes what would be an obligatory diet of jump ball throws.
"I mean, he's 6-7, it wouldn't be smart not to just throw some up to him and see what he can bring down,” Woods said.
And Hardy has more than the height working for him. He was recruited to Indiana to leap and make grabs; not of footballs, however, but basketballs.
Basketball was the sport of choice for Hardy in high school in Fort Wayne, an Indiana hotbed for hoops, where he left as the city's all-time leading scorer.