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OSU deals with the loss – probably for the season – of hard-hitting Brandon Hardin

by: COURTESY OF OREGON STATE Cornerback Brandon Hardin of Oregon State, making a hit against Washington State, plans to have surgery this week to repair a partial fracture of his left shoulder socket. But he isn't expected to return this season.

CORVALLIS - One of Oregon State's defensive leaders may be finished for his college career.

Senior cornerback Brandon Hardin, a part-time starter as a sophomore and full-time starter as a junior, will have surgery to repair a partial fracture in the left shoulder socket.

'It's highly unlikely he is going to play this year,' OSU coach Mike Riley said Tuesday.

Hardin, working with OSU team doctor Luis Vela and trainer Ariko Iso, has sent copies of his MRI to surgeons in Los Angeles, San Diego, Seattle and Pittsburgh.

"Their analysis is all pretty much the same,' Hardin said. 'We'll go with the doctor we feel will do the best surgery. We're shooting for surgery this week.

'I don't think I'm done for the season, but the doctors have explained I will be out for some time. They have to put a screw in the bone, and depending on what they find, (a return to action) could be longer than what I'd hoped.'

The 6-2, 215-pound Hardin is Oregon State's most experienced cornerback, one of the hardest hitters on the team, a terrific gunner on the the punt squad and a special-teams stalwart.

'It's a big blow for him personally and our team,' Riley said. 'We have through time developed pretty good depth at the (cornerback) position. That doens't make it easy losing a starting corner and probably the best gunner and kick cover guy in the league. But that's life.'

Riley said sophomores Rashaad Reynolds and Sean Martin and junior Keynan Parker will battle for a starting spot at corner opposite junior Jordan Poyer. Reynolds is the probable starter.

'They'll all play,' the OSU coach said.

Since injuring the shoulder in practice a week ago, Hardin hasn't experienced a lot of pain.

'That's the weird part,' he said. 'I can move it, I've lifted weights, but it's broken and they have to fix it.'

The most important aspect it to heal the injury correctly so Hardin can proceed toward an NFL career.

'The coaches have my best interests at heart,' he said. 'I wanted to get it done quickly and come back as soon as possible, but they stress that I need to set myself up well for the long term. I need to get it fixed the right way.

'The first thing that crossed my mind was, 'Wow, it's my senior season.' It's hard for me. I want to be out there with my teammates. It's really difficult. I'm prepared for the worst, but still hopeful I'll be back at some point.'

Hardin's teammates are trying to take his loss philosophically.

'It's football,' senior safety Lance Mitchell said. 'Things like that happen, but it's hard. Growing up with him in the program and getting close to him, being excited about our year and then something like this happens ...

'Hopefully, he's not out for the whole year. It's hard to replace a player like him, but I like Rashaad Reynolds as a player. He knows the defense, but he doesn't have the game experience. He's going to have to learn on the fly.'