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Harding towards the big time

Former Brisbane and Port Adelaide speedster Scott Harding has broken new ground in the transition from AFL to American football by earning the University of Hawaii MVP for the 2013 season.

There is nothing coaches of any kind value more than versatility and given Harding’s expansive skill-set there is little doubt why he was afforded such an honour.

In three seasons at Hawaii Harding has filled the roles of slot-receiver, punt-returner, holder and he took on the full-time punting responsibilities in 2013 – unseating a local punter on scholarship in the process.

Hawaii v USC

It was a disappointing season for the Warriors, having won just one game, however Harding’s season ranks with the best.

He finished his junior season ranked second on the team for receptions, ranked 36 nationally for punt returns and as a nominee for the Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Year Award.

Harding was presented with the Alec Waterhouse Most Valuable Player Award yesterday afternoon (AEDST), following Hawaii’s 49 to 42 win over Army at Aloha stadium.

He finished the season on a high with a touchdown and a season-high 94 carrying yards.

It has been a rapid rise for Harding; he was delisted from Port Adelaide at the end of 2010 after 50 AFL games. He enrolled in the Prokick program and arrived at the University of Hawaii for the 2011 season, less than a year later.

The man responsible for getting Harding to the States is former Hawthorn and Brisbane defender Nathan Chapman. Chapman describes Harding’s award and the success of his other graduates as “awesome”, but not unexpected.

“We hopefully pick the right athlete and he was able to come into the program and because he is the athlete he is, he was able to excel. It shows that if anyone else wants to do it and has that ability, we can make that happen,” Chapman said.

Harding has one more year of NCAA eligibility, however given his progress over the past three years the 27-year-old has indicated previously he may forego his senior year in preference of a possible NFL career.

Chapman believes Harding will have to weigh up the benefits of finishing his degree against pursing a career in the big time, which is a real possibility.

“He has good catching numbers, he’s got good hands, good speed and versatility. It could go either way, there is benefits with both decisions,” he said.

Meanwhile, Cameron Johnston’s fairytale start to his NCAA career rolls on. Second ranked Ohio State University remains undefeated and look likely to earn qualification for the National Championship game – one of the biggest sporting events on earth.

Should Ohio State get there, it will mean an Aussie can taken part three years consecutively, after the Jesse Williams led Alabama to championships in 2011 and 2012 and Brad Wing’s LSU were runners-up in 2011.


Personally, Johnston has been one of the reasons his side remain undefeated.  He got OSU out of jail in its mid-season game against Wisconsin, a performance that won Johnston the Special Teams Players of the Week Award.

This week Johnston was given an honorable mention in the All-Big 10 Conference team of the year.

Next week recently retired or delisted AFL players will have a chance to test their suitability for the American game at a special combine run by Prokick Australia in-conjunction with the AFL Players’ Association.