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Tom Miller / Forum News Service, Published September 01 2013

UND receiving duo of Hardin, Golladay make presence known in first game

GRAND FORKS – On his first punt-return attempt of the season, University of North Dakota sophomore wide receiver Kenny Golladay shook a tackle right after reeling in the ball and broke free for a 64-yard touchdown.

On North Dakota senior wide receiver Greg Hardin’s first kickoff return of the year, he made one move and went untouched into the end zone for a 90-yard score.

The two plays last Thursday in UND’s blowout win over Valparaiso are further evidence that UND’s 1-2 punch at wide receiver is as talented as it has ever had.

Hardin, a preseason All-American, is already receiving NFL attention. About a dozen scouts have made their way to Memorial Stadium this fall to watch him practice and plenty more have asked for credentials for future games. The 6-foot-4 Golladay, meanwhile, is only a true sophomore but will undoubtedly receive professional interest, as well, as his career unfolds.

“I don’t recall us having two guys like that,” UND football coach Chris Mussman said. “We’ve always had one guy, it seems.

“That’s pretty unique. We have two guys like that and then you add the rest of those guys into the mix. It makes us pretty good in the wide receiving corps.”

In barely more than a half of play against Valparaiso, Hardin had five catches for 163 yards and a 75-yard touchdown catch. Golladay, meanwhile, had five catches for 58 yards.

The closest comparison to two standout receivers on the same UND team is likely Weston Dressler and Brady Trenbeath. The pair played together from 2006-07.

Dressler and Trenbeath are Nos. 1 and 3 in all-time receiving yards at UND. Dressler, who now stars for the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the CFL, might have his all-time record (3,382 yards) dethroned later this year by Hardin, who’s now 789 yards behind.

UND’s NCAA Division II national championship team in 2001 also had a pair of standout wideouts in Jesse Smith and Dan Graf. Smith and Graf are fifth and sixth, respectively, in receiving yards all-time at UND.

If UND’s current 1-2 punch isn’t the program’s best of all-time, the position’s depth is unmatched. Jameer Jackson was a Jerry Rice Award finalist last year as one of the best freshmen in the country. Blair Townsend, Romon Bridges and Casey Young can also take pressure off the top wideouts.

And one of UND’s best wide receivers the past few seasons, R.J. McGill, is still on the roster, although he’ll redshirt this season due to an injury.

Although Mussman said UND is focusing on improving its ground game this week, the team won’t stray too far from what’s already been working.

“We’re going to use (Hardin and Golladay) as much as we possibly can,” Mussman said.


Miller writes for the Grand Forks Herald