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Saturday, December 31, 2011
Huskers' Hardrick craves bragging rights

By Adam Rittenberg

Jermarcus "Yoshi" Hardrick hears it every time he returns home to his native Mississippi.

"I get a lot of crap about why didn't I pick the SEC," the Nebraska senior offensive tackle told ESPN.com.

Hardrick did pick the SEC, at least for a little while. He verbally committed to LSU after his freshman year at Fort Scott Community College in Kansas. He also had scholarship offers from Arkansas and Ole Miss, among others.

But Hardrick wanted to continue his career with Fort Scott teammate Lavonte David. When LSU didn't offer David, Hardrick looked elsewhere and both men ended up with Nebraska.

Hardrick is happy with his choice, but he's not spared from the chiding when he returns to the South.

"They say I'd be undefeated with LSU," he said. "[They say] there's no way we can play with those fast boys and things like that."

Hardrick and his Huskers teammates get a chance to measure up with the SEC on Monday when they face South Carolina in the Capital One Bowl. Nebraska has 12 players hailing from current SEC states as well as a host of other from Texas, which will become SEC territory next year.

Although Hardrick, like many Big Ten players, has grown annoyed with the speed argument, he provides an honest assessment of South Carolina's defensive line, which is highlighted by ends Melvin Ingram and Jadeveon Clowney.

"Fast, fast, fast," Hardrick said.

Nebraska's ability to contain Ingram, Clowney and the Gamecocks defenders will go a long way toward determining Monday's winner. Hardrick, one of the elder statesmen on a mostly young Huskers offensive line, said the unit takes pride in being physical, particularly on first and second down.

A win Monday would mark Nebraska's third consecutive 10-win season, a milestone the program hasn't achieved since 1999-2001.

But for Hardrick, it's personal.

"It's a big chance for me to show why I picked here," he said.

And if Nebraska wins?

"I'll probably crack a couple SEC jokes about them being all physical and fast and things like that," he said. "I'll be like, 'Well, we're not the SEC, but we're Nebraska.'"