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Chris Ballard was to add more depth and competition to the group. They added Devin Funchess through free agency..." NFL GeneralColts AnalysisInterviewsOffseason Interview: Georgia State WR Coach Talks Penny HartNew Jacoby Brissett Jersey ,14commentsEDTShare this storyShare this on FacebookShare this on TwitterShareAll sharing optionsShareAll sharing options for:Offseason Interview: Georgia State WR Coach Talks Penny HartTwitterFacebookRedditPocketFlipboardEmailPhoto by Steve Roberts/Icon Sportswire via Getty ImagesThe Coltsí receiver group in 2018 was... below average. One key point of emphasis for Chris Ballard was to add more depth and competition to the group. They added Devin Funchess through free agency and Parris Campbell in the second round of the draft. After the draft though, they were still adding as they signed Senior Bowl standout Penny Hart to an UDFA contract.Hart is an outlier, as he is a 5í8Ē receiver who tested poorly at his Pro Day. So why did the Colts take a chance on a small and unathletic (in drills at least) receiver as a UDFA? I decided to ask his receiver coach at Georgia State just what made him so special. Coach Trent McKinight joined Georgia State in 2017 when Penny Hart was a Junior receiver on pace to break multiple records in the Sun Belt Conference. In my conversation with McKnight, we talked about how Hart was so effective in the Sun Belt, how he was able to find success on and off the field in college, and why we shouldnít doubt this rookieís chances to make the team.<hr class="p-entry-hr" id="mYIDdV">Interview with Coach Trent McKnightZH: You joined Georgia State in 2017 when Hart was already established with the program. Had you heard about him coming in or did you have any expectations for him upon arriving at GSU?TM: Yeah, we had heard a lot of good things about him. You [donít] really know until you actually get there and get a chance to work with them in person. I had heard a lot of good things about him, though, not only from people within the program, but also around the Sun Belt, because he came in as a Freshman and was the leading receiver in the league. He had already done a lot of good things, and already got his name out there, and had already been a productive receiver.<hr class="p-entry-hr" id="RzNPGb">ZH: Your first year in 2017, he broke school records for both catches and for touchdowns that season. In your opinion, what was the key to that historic season for him?TM: I think everything Penny has done in his life has come from the work that he has put in. It is like anything that anyone has success in, you got to go out there and work hard and try to get better every single day. A lot of people talk about that, but Penny truly lives that. I donít think it was anything special offensively that we were doing, I think it was how much he had improved from his first year to that point in time. We did some things to move him around but I think it was more about how he improved as a player and the work ethic that he put in to reach those numbers.<hr class="p-entry-hr" id="ZBoyTg">ZH: He was one of the most accomplished receivers in the history of the Sun Belt. To you, though, what about him as a person really stood out to you? TM: When I think of Penny Hart, itís all the intangibles, because he checks every box. From the standpoint of working hard, anytime you go out there, heís there doing ball drills or studying film. Heís always trying to get other guys better, trying to get himself better, trying to study other receivers, do every drill that he can do to be the best that he can be. He has said this plenty of times but he doesnít have a chip on his shoulder, he has a boulder. He lives that. A lot of people can talk about that but he truly lives that. I think all the intangibles in a person, I think thatís what Penny Hart is and that is what you want in your program.<hr class="p-entry-hr" id="rpez5e">ZH: I actually interviewed Penny before this past draft and he talked about how he and the receivers at GSU made an effort to improve as blockers going into 2018. Did you see that effort pay off on the field?TM: Absolutely. I think that is who he is. Whether it is blocking on a run play, or he has to hold somebody up on some type of special teams, heís going to do whatever he needs to do to give the team a chance to win. That may mean getting the ball to him ten times a game, sometimes it may be the fact that he needs to make ten critical blocks a game. That is the other thing with him. People follow Penny, he is a natural leader. Everybody loves him, everybody at our program still loves him Reggie Wayne Color Rush Jersey , and Iím sure itíll be the same out there. If he says that this is something we want to do and take pride in blocking, those other guys are going to follow in line. On top of everything, he is one of the best leaders Iíve been around.<hr class="p-entry-hr" id="o1o982">ZH: The best part of his game is his route running and he put on a show at the Senior Bowl. Was that an area you had to work with him in or was he already pretty good in that area when you arrived?TM: I think it is something, again, that he just wants to be the best that he can possibly be in. When nobody is out there and it is summer time, he is going to work on route running. When nobody else is up there at one in the afternoon, he is going to go study some of the top receivers in the game. His best friend, Robert Davis, is with the Redskins, so obviously he learns a lot from him too. I just think that is the way he is and the way he is going to get better because he doesnít settle for God-given ability. He has worked himself into (being a very good route runner) because of his intangibles but also that chip on his shoulder and the mindset he has to dominate every play. He knows that not only at our level but going to the NFL, that is a critical piece of the puzzle being a good route runner. <hr class="p-entry-hr" id="GsCs5w">ZH: Do you think he is better as a slot receiver or outside receiver?TM: I think he can play either one. I think he can play anywhere, really, and that is one of those things that is interesting, really, because I went down to the Senior Bowl and at first, he was a backup slot and then next thing you know he was playing all over the park and ended up competing for a starting spot in the slot. I think that is one of the great things about him and why he is going to have success. We played him the last two years at an X boundary position and not many people are going to think that a 5í9Ē receiver can play X but he had a ton of success and dominated the game at X, so I think wherever he lines up, heís going to have success. Obviously a lot of people wanted him as a slot but I think the best thing about him is that he can tell everybody in the room exactly what they are supposed to do. Not only in our receiver room, other positions on offense as well. That is big at the next level too because I know they only keep so many receivers and he can be a backup or starter at many positions. He provides a lot of flexibility for an offense. <hr class="p-entry-hr" id="U8vwF6">ZH: Last question here. For anybody doubting Hart making this roster, what would you say to those people?TM: I think going back to what we started with intangibles, there isnít anybody going to be better than him. From work ethic to heart to toughness to passion, you arenít going to find anybody better than Penny Hart. A lot of people doubted him out of high school because he only had one offer and that was to Georgia State. Then next thing you know, he was one of the top receivers in the country. He was the receptions leader in all of FBS football going into 2018. I think he has been in that situation before where people have doubted him and he has proven them wrong before, He proved here that he is not only one of the best Sun Belt receivers but also one of the best in the country and I think at the end of the day it goes back to the type of person he is. He is going to have success in whatever he does. The Colts prospect interviews are rolling along as we approach the NFL Draft. Todayís player interview is Marshall Safety Malik Gant. The Colts could use a tone setter on the back end, and the..." />Skip to main contentclockmenumore-arrownoyesHorizontal - WhiteStampede Bluean Indianapolis Colts communityLog In or Sign UpLog InSign UpFanpostsFanshotsColtsShopAboutMastheadCommunity GuidelinesStubHubMoreAll 322 blogs on Horizontal - WhiteFanposts Fanshots Colts StoriesScheduleRosterStatsYahoo Colts NewsYahoo Colts Team PageYahoo Colts ReportYahoo Colts Depth ChartYahoo Colts TransactionsYahoo Colts PhotosShop About Masthead Community Guidelines StubHub ✕Filed under:Colts AnalysisInterviewsNFL DraftColts Prospect Interviews: Marshall Safety Malik GantNew,2commentsEDTShareTweetShareShareColts Prospect Interviews: Marshall Safety Malik GantPhoto by Joel Auerbach/Getty ImagesThe Colts prospect interviews are rolling along as we approach the NFL Draft. Todayís player interview is Marshall Safety Malik Gant. The Colts could use a tone setter on the back end, and the hard-hitting Gant would be an excellent fit.The interview will be towards the bottom of the page, as he interviewed exclusively with Stampede Blue to talk about rising up from being a walk on to a star player, why he declared early for this draft, and how he would pair with Malik Hooker on the back end.BackgroundSize:5í11Ē 209 poundsMeasurables: 40 Time: 4.63 / 10-yard split: 1.61 / Bench Reps: 17 Reps / Vertical Jump: 34.5 inches / Broad Jump: 114 inches / 3-Cone: 7.45 secondsCareer Stats:190 total tackles, 14 tackles for a loss, 1 sack, 2 interceptions, and 13 pass deflections in his career.Round Projection:Rounds 4-5Fit with the Colts:The Colts still have a major need for a safety in this draft despite re-signing Matthias Farley and Clayton Geathers. Geathers has had his injury problems in the past and Farley is coming off of a season-ending injury. Adding a tone setter like Gant would be an excellent addition to the team. He may not be a great athlete , but he makes up for that deficiency with a tireless motor, excellent angles, and top-notch physicality. He is a tone setter on the back end that offenses are always aware of. The addition of Gant, to go along with the safety group the team already has, could make for a fun and physical group.Film RoomMotor and closing speed stand out the most on film. Gant knows how to close ground in a hurry, and plays with a ton of effort on every play.Gant is solid in coverage as well, as he knows how to separate ball from man and be physical with bigger players.Gant is also a big hitter on almost every play (which got me a bit excited in this tweet).InterviewZH: You decided to walk on at Marshall out of high school. Why did you decide to go that route?MG: I didnít really have any other choices, I didnít have any offers from any other schools. The process was getting really difficult and my mother told me as a last resort she wants me to go to school just for my education, and I got accepted to most schools. Marshall was right down the road and was the cheapest process for me to be able to go to school. Once we got down there for a tour, the opportunity for me to be a walk on showed itself and my mother said it was a great opportunity for me to be able to play football and continue my education.ZH: How did it feel when you finally earned that scholarship last year?MG: It felt great because I was able to relieve my mother of having to pay for school after those first two years. It was just a great feeling because of that aspect.ZH: How did it feel to go from walk on to Team MVP after this past season?MG: It felt great. Not just for myself, but for being able to be a leader for everybody on the team from the walk ons to the people who get every single rep. Just being able to lead by example and show people that you can come from anything was really important for me.ZH: You decided to declare for this draft early, declaring after your redshirt Junior season. What went into deciding to leave college early?MG: I would say just the opportunity to be able to chase my dream and to be able to contribute and give back to my mother. She put the money into my dream those first two years when I was a walk on and helped me reach the point where I am at right now. Seeing the toll it took on her paying for those first two years, I really want to be able to give back to mother for everything she did for me.ZH: Going to your film, you donít just tackle players. You tackle through them. How important is it to be a consistent tackler who leaves a mark on players when you are tackling?MG: The main thing that I think people shy away from is that hitting someone sticks in a personís mind for an entire game. We are all human, you know. If you have to think about or second guess playing the same same way that you have always played, especially for offensive players, that slows down the way they usually play and that is an advantage for the defense and the entire team even. That is just the advantage of putting it into their head that if they go my direction, Iím going to make the tackle. ZH: Would you label yourself as a tone setter of a defense?MG: Yeah, most definitely. I set the tone for the entire defense on every play.ZH: A major aspect of playing safety, especially for strong safeties, is the ability to cover tight ends. Do you think you match up well with these athletic tight ends in the NFL?MG: Yeah definitely. I would say being able to be so versatile, with playing in the box and checking running backs and tight ends and slot receivers, is a strength for me. Being able to come down and play man or play zone is something Iím very prepared for. Iím fluid in my hips and I think Iíd be great doing that.ZH: Who in the NFL do you model your game after/compare yourself to?MG: If I could compare myself to anyone, I would say Earl Thomas, who recently signed with the Ravens. He is just versatile. He can play anywhere on the field and there is no drop off in any position you put him at.ZH: How well do you think that you would pair with a ballhawking free safety in Malik Hooker?MG: I would say that I would be great because with my skill and his play as a ballhawk, we would be perfect with each other. You got a person who can play in the box and stop the run, when it is necessary, and check the tight ends and running backs and stop the short game, which helps out on the back end and allows him to roam back there. We could also switch roles even and make the defense even more fluid.ZH: Last question for you. On and off of the field, what is my team getting if they draft Malik Gant? What makes you stand out in this class?MG: If you look at my stats and you look at my style of play, there isnít any safety that matches up with my versatility. Everybody is a safety who can play on the back end or play in the post but no one in this entire class this year has played as many snaps in the box as I have or has made as many stops for negative yardage at the line of scrimmage as I have. I donít think anybody else compares to my ability as a safety around the line of scrimmage.
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