Back Size is Not a Skill, Ask Penny Hart

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Size is Not a Skill, Ask Penny Hart

By Emory Hunt
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At 5’8, 180 pounds, Hart is considered ‘small’ by societal football standards, but all the Buford, Georgia native has done throughout his football life is play like a giant.

‘If you’re good enough, you’re big enough’ is one of the best football sayings of all-time. That aptly describes Georgia State wide receiver Penny Hart. At 5’8, 180 pounds, Hart is considered ‘small’ by societal football standards, but all the Buford, Georgia native has done throughout his football life is play like a giant. 

Hart was a 4-year starter at King’s Ridge Christian High School and played multiple positions. It was that versatility that attracted the attention of the Georgia State coaching staff that saw something special in Hart’s game: explosiveness.

It’s hard to see time on the field as a freshman in college football. It’s equally as hard to be a freshman of influence. Hart was able to accomplish both during his first season as a Panther, en route to being named to numerous Freshman All-American teams while also earning Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year honors. What was remarkable about that feat was that Hart led the conference in receptions and receiving yards, and finished third in touchdown receptions. During his sensational freshman campaign, he set a Sun Belt Conference freshman record with 1,099 receiving yards.

Football is a game of situations and responses. Mainly, how one responds to adversity is the difference between winning and losing, and quite honestly the difference between a winner and a loser.

I brought you there, to bring you here. Hart’s sophomore season was supposed to be a continuation of what we saw from him as a freshman. And leading up to the season, for all intents and purposes, there wasn’t any reason to doubt that he would build on that success. This is where fate steps in and test the mindset of the athlete. This is where you get a chance to define yourself as a man and as a football player. The 2016 season for Hart was virtually nonexistent because of a hamstring injury and foot injury that sidelined him for the entire season.

When you’re an injured football player, it’s easy to drown yourself in your own thoughts of self-doubt. This is especially true when you’re considered by many to be ‘too small’ to compete at the FBS level. So many detractors and skeptics are more than ready to say ‘see, I told you so’ or ‘see, he just doesn’t have the size to handle the rigors of FBS football’. None of that describes Penny Hart. Physical stature never defined who he was, or is as a football player. Hart stayed grounded and grinded through that medical redshirt season, vowing to pick up right where he left off as a freshman. Where you find yourself is within the way you challenge yourself. It’s safe to say that Hart definitely spent his time on the mend wisely.

So far this year, Hart is back to being a big time playmaker for Georgia State. He already has 61 receptions for 876 yards and 8 touchdowns on the season. Those numbers put him on pace to eclipse what he was able to do as a freshman, with three games left to play; four if you count the bowl game, something the Panthers should obtain after an excellent recovery from a 1-2 start to the season.

For the skeptics who are still out there, always remember it’s the will combined with the skill of a person that makes the man. Not the size or stature, because that’s something you can’t control. You can control work ethic and want-to, and Penny Hart is playing chess while others are playing checkers in that regard.

Emory Hunt - Emory Hunt, "The Czar of the Playbook", is a former UL Ragin' Cajun running back nw covering the Sun Belt for Southern Pigskin. His other work can be found at Twitter: @FBallGameplan