A soccer, basketball, and observe and area star in highschool, Justin Hunter arrived in Knoxville as probably the greatest vast receiver prospects within the nation. It didn’t take him lengthy to indicate followers of the Tennessee Volunteers why. He earned All-Freshman honors within the SEC as a real freshman in 2010, the identical 12 months throughout which he additionally competed for Tennessee’s observe and area staff. A torn ACL impacted his sophomore season, however he got here again in 2012 to submit 1,083 yards and 9 touchdowns. At his peak, he appeared each bit the famous person. However, as soon as he got here again, there was a little bit of a hitch in his giddyup. He simply appeared just a little extra apprehensive. Nonetheless, at 6’4″ and 200 kilos, Hunter possessed elite measurement on the place. The potential was nonetheless sufficient for him to be thought of among the many finest receivers within the 2013 draft class – and to be truthful, that was for good cause. Along with his measurement, Hunter had super pace and was spectacular at utilizing his size to benefit from defensive backs.
The Tennessee Titans chosen him on the high of the 2nd spherical at thirty fourth total. It occurred at a time once they had been beginning to make investments extra within the receiver place, however they’d few hits. Kenny Britt appeared just like the second coming of Randy Moss at occasions, however he couldn’t get his shit collectively off the sphere. He wasn’t constantly that receiver. Hunter was the Titans’ 2nd spherical choose only a 12 months after they invested a primary in Kendall Wright. I preferred Wright, however I by no means actually understood the imaginative and prescient behind including a gadgety pace man like that within the offense the staff was working on the time. Hunter was the newest try to actually lock of their high man within the receiving corps, and it felt like an incredible worth if Hunter lived as much as his potential. Add within the dependable and regular Nate Washington and also you’ve bought fairly the All-Potential receiving corps.
That 2013 draft class was a doozy – Probability Warmack, Hunter, Blidi Wreh-Wilson, Zaviar Gooden, Brian Schwenke, Lavar Edwards, Khalid Wooten, and Daimion Stafford. Am I out of line for suggesting that Blidi Wreh-Wilson, who simply signed with the Las Vegas Raiders, is one of the best of this class? In hindsight, it appears to be like fairly dangerous, however on the time Hunter felt like a game-changer…an incredible worth #34.
Perhaps the expectations had been just a little too lofty due to that, but it surely was laborious to not get excited in regards to the potential of the Titans receiving corps. The issue? We waited….and waited….and waited on Hunter to achieve his potential. In the end, he by no means would. To be truthful, the Titans didn’t precisely have probably the most dynamic offense on the time and Hunter had a rotating door of quarterbacks, however elite expertise overcomes these conditions. He got here in and competed for the third spot on the depth chart his preliminary season, and would discover himself competing for the third and fourth spot his entire profession. Even when a busted previous Andre Johnson got here to city, Hunter couldn’t beat him out. His finest season got here in 2014, when he totaled 498 yards and three touchdowns on 28 catches earlier than a lacerated spleen ended his season. 28 catches!!! 28 catches for a man in his second 12 months who was drafted to be your high receiver. What makes it worse is that these 28 catches got here on 67 targets. They gave him ample time and loads of alternatives to develop and for no matter cause, it simply didn’t occur for him. You possibly can’t assist however think about him a disappointment, however he’s undoubtedly one of many franchise’s largest “what-ifs” too.
Hunter was let go by the Titans throughout Jon Robinson‘s first offseason with the staff, in September of 2016. He’s a powerful instance of the previous adage that expertise will get you extra alternatives than you deserve, as he bounced round between three different groups. We all know what he was, however I can’t assist however assume again to the torn ACL in faculty and surprise what might’ve been if not for that damage.
Profession stat line:
- Faculty: 106 receptions, 1,812 yards, 18 touchdowns
- Titans: 68 catches, 1,116 yards, eight touchdowns
- NFL: 85 catches, 1,349 yards, 13 touchdowns
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Stoney Keeley is the Editor in Chief of The SoBros Community, and a Canine Enjoying Poker on velvet connoisseur. He’s a powerful supporter of Staff GSD and #BeBetter. “Huge Pure” covers the Tennessee Titans, Nashville, and an entire wealth of nonsense. Comply with on Twitter @StoneyKeeley