After posting 89 tackles his sophomore season as a linebacker, a growth spurt forced Hunter to play with his hand on the ground at defensive end. Now at 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, it didn’t take long for him to become a force to be reckoned with on the line.
“I felt like I had a breakout year last season,” he said. “It was my first year playing defensive end after playing linebacker. I got 38 tackles and seven sacks, but people stayed away from my side of the ball.”
Position changes can sometimes have an adverse affect on a player, but Hunter says he couldn’t be more pleased with his move.
“Linebacker was a lot more thinking,” he said. “Defensive end is just line up and get up field on every play. I love getting sacks. There’s nothing like hearing the yell from the crowd after you sack a quarterback.”
Hunter says he still uses a lot of the skills that made him a good linebacker to get after quarterbacks, among other things.
“Even though I’ve grown a lot, I kept a lot of my speed, so I’m still faster than the offensive linemen,” said Hunter, who claims 4.8 speed in the 40-yard dash. “My biggest strength right now is using my speed to come off the edge on my pass rush. I love stopping the run too; I still have that mentality from playing linebacker. I feel like I can also drop back in coverage too because I still have those skills and instincts from playing linebacker.”
Though he is still learning his new position, Hunter’s potential has grabbed the attention of college coaches all over the southeast, and other parts of the country as well. Some even feel that he could continue to grow into a defensive tackle on the next level.
“I have about 10 offers right now, and that’s really exciting,” he said. “A couple months ago I just had one offer, and now I have 10. North Carolina State, Florida State, Purdue, Oregon, South Carolina, East Carolina, Tennessee, and LSU. I’m also hearing a lot from Wake Forest and Florida.
“I don’t have a definite list right now because everything is still so new and exciting for me,” he continued. “North Carolina State is still standing out the most to me because they were my first offer, but Florida and LSU are also coming at me really hard right now.”
The sudden increase in attention for Hunter from LSU came to a head a week ago when the Tigers extended his offer.
“I was on the phone with coach (Brick) Haley about a week ago, and he said they wanted to offer me,” said the 3-star prospect. “He sounded like a real nice guy that I’d like to meet in person. And LSU is just a powerhouse. They have some great players down there and have sent a few defensive linemen to the league. So to get an offer from them was very exciting for me.”
Hunter says LSU’s new defensive line coach has already laid out his plan for him should he decide to become a Tiger.
“Coach Haley said he saw that I was very aggressive in the 5-technique, and that’s what he sees me playing in the defense,” he said. “I would line up right next to the offensive tackle, either tight or on an angle depending on the situation. I kind of like to slide out on an angle to get him on an island.”
Hunter says Haley also talked with him about making the move from the NFL to college football, an experience Hunter says he would like to take advantage of.
“Coach Haley is very excited about moving to college from the NFL,” he said. “It would be crazy to be able to play for a guy that just came from the NFL. Now I’d be working with him 1 on 1 every day. He definitely knows what it takes to make it to the NFL, and I know he could help get me ready.”
While Hunter is forming a good relationship with Haley, he says he’s also gotten a chance to speak with the Tigers’ head man.
“I talked to coach Miles, and he is very excited about me and wants me to come down for a visit,” Hunter said. “He said they are really pumped about me down there. This summer I definitely want to visit all the schools that are far away from home. I want to do a couple of out of state camps, so I’ll probably try to make one at LSU.”
Whether he makes it down to Baton Rouge this summer for a visit or has to wait for an official visit in the fall, it seems like LSU will be a school weighing heavily on Hunter’s mind in the coming months.
“LSU is just a great powerhouse school,” he said. “I watch them on TV every Saturday that I can. I know the atmosphere down in Louisiana is great and it’s something I’m interested in. LSU is definitely a place I could see myself playing at in the future.”