He was born on December 18, 1991 in Washington, NC and went to high school at West Craven High in Vanceboro, NC. After initially signing with Fayetteville State, Hardy decided to de-commit and walk on at East Carolina. After redshirting his first year at ECU, he earned a scholarship. As a redshirt freshman, he started eight of 10 games, setting a school record for freshman with 64 catches and 658 yards, while also catching six touchdowns. As a sophomore he earned first-team All-Conference USA honors while starting 11 of 12 games at wide receiver, catching 88 passes for 1,105 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also returned punts as a sophomore, earning second team All-conference honors while averaging 8.8 yards on 20 returns. He started all 13 games as a junior, setting a new school single-season record with 114 catches for 1,284 yards and also adding eight touchdowns. His reception total ranked third in the nation, earning him first-team All-Conference USA honors for the second consecutive year. As a junior, he also averaged 11.3 yards on 20 punt returns. He broke his single-season record as a senior, catching 121 passes for 1,494 yards with 10 touchdowns. He finished the year ranked second in receptions and fourth in receiving yards nationally. He returned 23 punts for an average of 4.1 yards and scored on his lone rushing attempt of seven yards. He earned first team All-America Athletic Conference honors and was a third-team All-American and won the Burlsworth Trophy for the nation's top former walk-on after finishing as a semifinalist his junior season. He broke the NCAA record for most career receptions, topping Ryan Broyles' 349-catch ark with 387 receptions of his own. Hardy's 4,541 career receiving yards also ranks third all-time in NCAA record books. He also finished his career, completing four of 10 passes for 147 yards and two touchdowns. He was originally selected by the Atlanta Falcons in the fourth round (107th overall) of the 2015 NFL Draft.
Signed by Atlanta Falcons on May 9, 2015.
He signed a four-year deal worth $2,820,821 with the Falcons in 2015. His deal also included a signing bonus of $540,821. His base salaries are: $435,000 (2015); $525,000 (2016); $615,000 (2017) and $705,000 (2018). His cap hits are: $570,205 (2015); $660,205 (2016); $750,205 (2017) and $840,206 (2018).