3DownNation top 100 CFL players: No. 83 OL Jermarcus Hardrick, Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/CFLPhotoArchive.com

Today we see a fan favourite do his patented ‘Hardrick Hop’ onto our top 100 players list, coming in a No. 83.

Jermarcus Hardrick didn’t have the easiest route to success in professional football. The six-foot-five, 320-pound blocker grew up in Courtland, Mississippi, a town with a population of less than 500 people.

“I guess I didn’t really know I was poor until I left Courtland,” Hardrick told Ed Tait in 2017. “I go back about two or three times a year to see my mom and my friends. The crazy thing is, every time I go back it seems like another friend is dead or has gone to jail.”

Hardrick’s closest friend growing up was named Mario Lewis, which is how he came to be known as ‘Yoshi.’ The nickname has stuck for decades and serves as the inspiration for his Twitter handle: @Yoshi_Hardrick.

After being deemed academically ineligible to play at Auburn University, Hardrick spent two years at Fort Scott Community College. He played there with friend Lavonte David and the pair transferred together to the University of Nebraska as juniors for the 2010 season.

David rocketed up NFL draft boards after recording 285 tackles, 28 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks, two interceptions, 12 knockdowns, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries in 27 games with the Cornhuskers. He became a second-round pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2012 and remains with the team, having reached the Pro Bowl in 2015.

Hardrick drew modest NFL interest for his play at left tackle and signed with the New Orleans Saints after going undrafted. He was released and soon signed in the Arena Football League with the Utah Blaze.

The gregarious blocker came to the CFL with the B.C. Lions in 2014, appearing in 12 games at guard and tackle. He signed with the Saskatchewan Roughriders following his release, playing eight contests in 2015.

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/CFLPhotoArchive.com

That was when Hardrick finally found a permanent CFL home, signing with Winnipeg in February 2016. The rest, as they say, is history.

Hardrick has started 67 games for the Blue Bombers over the past four seasons and was named a West Division all-star in 2017. Though he’s often overshadowed by Winnipeg’s left tackle, Stanley Bryant, many personnel experts feel Hardrick is better than many blindside blockers around the CFL.

One of the things that stands out most about Hardrick’s game is his ability to get after the play. While most offensive linemen are sucking wind after executing their primary block, Hardrick sprints after the ball carrier to throw an extra block or celebrate a big gain. This has always been a staple of his game, which you can see on his highlight film from Nebraska.

“I like to bring a lot of energy to the team, I like to keep everybody up, and I like to be very positive,” Hardrick told the Regina Leader-Post in 2015. “The energy’s contagious. Once I have energy, I can feel it, so I try to keep it going.”

2019 was a banner year for Hardrick as he graduated university in May before winning a Grey Cup in November. The 30-year-old is slated to become a free agent in February 2021.

3DownNation is unveiling its list of the top 100 active CFL players. To read the criteria for player eligibility, click here. The list to date can be found below.

84. DB Branden Dozier, Free Agent
85. SAM Otha Foster, Saskatchewan Roughriders
86. DB Antoine Pruneau, Ottawa Redblacks
87. RB John White, B.C. Lions
88. LB Avery Williams, Ottawa Redblacks
89. LB Jovan Santos-Knox, Free Agent
90. DB Richard Leonard, Calgary Stampeders
91. REC Armanti Edwards, Edmonton Football Team
92. RB C.J. Gable, Free Agent
93. DT Mike Rose, Calgary Stampeders
94. REC S.J. Green, Free Agent
95. DB Mike Edem, Saskatchewan Roughriders
96. DL John Bowman, Montreal Alouettes
97. DB Taylor Loffler, Montreal Alouettes
98. QB Nick Arbuckle, Ottawa Redblacks
99. ST Mike Miller, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
100. DE Chris Casher, B.C. Lions

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.