Recruiting takes unknown turn due to virus-related cancelled seasons for class of 2020 seniors

By the middle of April, Central Kitsap senior defensive back Nigal Hardee had hoped to have signed his name to his letter of intent and begin the next phase of his football career. 

Now it’s a waiting game for Hardee and many other 2020 seniors who were unsigned before the coronavirus virus shutdown the sports world.

“It really sucked because I felt I had so much more to prove to my teachers and my peers around me,” Hardee said. 

Hardee put together a strong 2019-20 football season after tearing his ACL his junior year. Hardee finished with 22 tackles (13 solo), seven pass breakups, six interceptions for 134 return yards at corner back. He also had three kickoff returns for 83 yards, 10-for-171 on punt returns and rushed for 26 yards on three carries and one pass reception for 52 yards.

Hardee was rightly named to the All-South Sound Conference 3A first team, but didn’t know his biggest foe was ahead of him. Hardee knows he, his peers and his potential college coaches are all in unchartered territory. But the uncertainty might be worst part of the changes that came suddenly to athletes around the state.

Hardee’s recruitment had been going well with an uptick in attention since February with Rocky Mountain College, Montana State Northern, University of Montana Western, University of Minnesota Morris, William Penn University and others making offers with likely more on the way. 

“It was going great,” Hardee said of his recruitment as he getting ready to make several official visits. “Definitely the shutdown had in impact because I was going to be going on … five visits and so it kind of messed it up in a way. I want to give every university in every program a chance.”

Hardee said on his Twitter page that he had wanted to make his decision by April 11. Instead he waits.

The good news is he hasn’t lost any offers although some coaches have become less communicative, Hardee added.

Instead of sitting back and waiting, Hardee has been proactive in talking with coaches he built relationships with as well as keeping up on his schoolwork — although he admits online school isn’t the same as getting help from teachers in person.

“It’s always good to keep in contact with the coach and make sure that connection is still there,” Hardee said, “because coming from experience I know how it is losing contact with the coach and losing that bond so I try my best not to let that happen.”

Hardee, whose work was shutdown, keeps busy with school, drills, workouts and making good food choices — all advice he received from his coaches — to keep himself in shape and ready to go when the time is right. He also does his best to stay in touch with friends and teammates to make sure they are doing well.

Hardee has dreamed of playing college football and said nothing is going to end that dream for him.

“There is no Plan B because the way that I think if you have a Plan B then you’re already counting yourself out,” Hardee said. “I have a plan and no matter what, I’m going to achieve it no matter how hard it gets.”

Like Hardee, North Kitsap senior track and field standout Jameson Moore felt the sting of a cancelled season. He had high hopes to break the school discus record — something he had his eye on since his freshman season — this year.

“Now I do not get the opportunity to give it my all and go for the record,” he said.

He’s sad to miss out on the experiences other seniors had before him but he knows it was out of his control.

“This year has been a great year with so many accomplishments and fun times and I am thankful for the Gonk Squad (Nick Alexander, Olin Till and me) and I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Moore is unable to improve any of his marks in his individual events (throws/jumps) during meets of course. That said, Moore took the initiative and made a video showing his form in drills to send to coaches. Moore said being proactive will help make his decision easier for himself and his family. “I have taken steps like calling and (the) video to show them who I am and what I have to offer.

“I was also invited to go visit schools but that has been delayed due to the virus,” Moore said. “That makes decisions a little difficult if I have not yet seen the school in person.”

Moore has hope for a freshman collegiate season.

“I have heard some great responses from coaches as far as school next year but nothing that is confirmed as far as scholarships,” he said. 

Moore said he’s been training, online school and there has ‘been a lot of family time … a lot. It is nice though before I head off to college.”

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