HOLLYWOOD, Calif. – When outside linebacker Daniel Hardy jumped on his video conference with Rams beat reporters, he made sure to strategically position his phone so that the frame included not just himself, but his family and defensive line coach at Montana State who
They've all been an important part of his journey, so it was only fitting he included them after being selected by the defending Super Bowl champions with the 235th pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
"It's amazing," Hardy said. "I got almost all my whole family here. I got my mom, my auntie, two of my older brothers, my little sister. I've even got my d-line coach from Montana State here, my best friends from high school. We're just going nuts. So blessed, all glory to God. Wonderful opportunity and I'm ready to go to work."
Those people personify crucial memories.
His mom and his little sister are a reminder of the promise he made to his late father before he passed away due to kidney cancer, and effectively his biggest motivation for making it to the NFL.
"When my father passed, before he passed, I let him know that I was gonna be there to take care of my mom and my little sister," Hardy said. "And all this has been a process. Everything I've done, every decision I've made has been with that end goal in mind, so it was just a daily thing, just getting one percent better every day and taking steps toward being the best possible player."
Meanwhile, his defensive line coach played a pivotal role in his development at Montana State, where last season he switched from linebacker to defensive end and turned in a standout performance that featured 24.5 tackles for loss and 16.5 sacks. His tackles-for-loss ranked third-most in program history and ninth-most in the FCS last season, while his sacks were fourth-most in program history and sixth-most in the FCS.
"Me and my coach, we were kind of just talking about it," Hardy said. "When he had first come onto the staff in the spring, we had our little sit-down intro meeting. He asked me what my goals were, and I told him, 'Coach, I want to play in the NFL. I want to get there,' and I just asked what I had to do. And he told me. It was just crazy seeing us working together, working with the team, doing whatever it took to make sure I was in a position to be successful. And I just couldn't be more grateful."
Collectively, the drove him to where he is now and are the source of his biggest trait.
"First and foremost, measurables aside, I think the one thing that I have going for me is that I'm just absolutely relentless," Hardy said. "I'm humble and I don't have a single issue playing special teams. I'm just ready to go in there and do whatever the coaches ask of me and just ball out."
As the video conference progressed, the picture at one point kept moving slightly to the left – Hardy's right while on the surface it was on due to his phone continually vibrating following the big news, likely congratulatory messages and well-wishes from those who know him.
Still, for all the excitement, those people with him in the background remain an important reminder for him even as he begins his pro football career.
"It's amazing, but the work's not done yet. It's just getting started," Hardy said. "I'm ready to double-down and get back to it."
Take a look at photos of newly drafted Los Angeles Rams outside linebacker Daniel Hardy from his time at Montana State.