- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 1, 2010

PICKERINGTON, OHIO (AP) - Eilar Hardy didn’t have to look far to find a football hero growing up.

His brother, Eisen, was two years older and the pair was always playing games outdoors and doing a little roughhousing inside with their father.

“Oh, we broke a lot of things, put it that way,” Bill Hardy said. Eilar “was a couple of years behind but he was so competitive.”

The sibling rivalry helped produce two standout players for Pickerington (Ohio) Central. Eisen is a sophomore at nearby NCAA Division II Ohio Dominican University in Columbus and Eiler (Eye-ler) _ on The Associated Press East Region 25 list of top recruits _ has verbally committed to Notre Dame.

“I definitely grew up wanting to be like” Eisen, Eiler said. “My brother’s a great athlete. I look up to him as much as anybody. He had great, successful career at Pickerington Central and I wear his number (4). That’s the family number now.”

Like his older brother, Hardy is a running back and defensive back but it’s his abilities in the secondary that caught the attention of many colleges, including Michigan State and Penn State.

“What sets him apart is he’s kind of that hybrid defensive back where he can play safety and tackle but he also can play corner and run man-to-man,” Central coach Jay Sharrett said. “To have those two characteristics and those two athletic talents has really made him jump out on film and that’s when a lot of the Division I offers came.”

Hardy made more than 70 tackles and forced three fumbles last season but Sharrett has bigger plans for him.

“He played both ways for us some last year,” he said. “He’ll be a pure two-way player for us this year and he’s on almost all our special teams.

“This kid is going to play 100-plus plays a game and if there’s a critical moment in the game you can be pretty sure he’s either going to get the ball or be around it. That’s what we expect from him.”