UNIVERSITY PARK (WTAJ) — Penn State’s defense looks very different in 2022 and the change is at all levels. Despite losing two starters, the most stable group is the secondary.

Back in 2022 is Ji’ayir Brown, Joey Porter Jr., Kalen King and Daequan Hardy.

The Pittsburgh native is one of James Franklin’s favorite players to talk about. Franklin is easy to sidetrack with a conversation about Hardy’s performance in the PIAA 5A Championships in 2018, where he had four touchdowns and three picks.

“I remember I was at the state championship game with Terry [Smith] and he scored in every way possible,” he said. “And me and Terry just kind of looked at each other and said we’re making this hard then we have to.”

Hardy now pencils in a much larger role in 2022, filling the void left by starting corner Tariq Castro Fields.

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Last year Hardy recorded one sack, two picks and one defensive touchdown. While he’s succeeded since coming to Happy Valley, he says that late recruitment still drives him four years later.

“When a guy who’s my size, is not the biggest, the strongest or you know whatever the circumstance may be, you have to carry that chip on your shoulder every day,” he said. “You have to overcome those setbacks and make the best of what you can.”