Thank you for the reply.
I've got a USB stick with a custom boot loader that allows you to chose a .wim image file from a network location or local location to install.
I've also got a windows 7 iso burned to a DVD.
Both were provided by the school district (I am a tech at a school), and I'm sure that the USB installer or the DVD are the problem as I've used both extensively on other computers of the same model and different models.
Windows will activate once it is joined to the domain through an enterprise licensing setup.
Everything looks normal, and event starts to load the install 'program' from both the USB and DVD, but gets caught eternally in the loading screen.
Because the images work flawlessly on dozens and dozens of other machines, my thought is that it could be something funky hardware related. Being that I've replaced the HD twice, I don't think that's it, and was wondering what else could be a common cause.
My next step was to tear the whole thing apart and re-seat and re-connect everything ( this is a laptop by the way).