Hunter Trimmer, Healthier, Ready

Last fall, Omar Hunter went from highly touted incoming freshman to an injured, overweight bench warmer. This spring, however, the second year player from Buford, Ga. has dropped about 30 pounds (to 305) and his back, elbow and ankle injuries are behind him. As a result Hunter is showing the ability that had Coach Urban Meyer gushing about his potential before he ever put on a Gator uniform.

Omar Hunter has been a solid force in a thinned out Gator defensive tackle rotation, battling Jaye Howard and Earl Okine for spots in the rotation behind returning starters Lawrence Marsh and Terron Sanders. He has shown the quickness off the ball and power rushing ability that made him one of the top high school defensive tackle prospects in the country.

Hunter said he is excited about being healthy and able to practice every day, and gives much of the credit for Gators Strength Coach Mickey Marotti.

"I talked to him a number of times and Coach Mick kept telling me I only have so many years here and I need to get better, stronger and faster. It all comes back to Coach Mick."

Hunter was asked if he felt burdened by the high expectations he came in with including the praise from his coach.

"Not at all. Nobody knew I was going to get hurt. I didn't expect that and it threw me off so much. I tried not to let that stuff bother me. Coach Meyer hyped me up a little bit, but I tried to ignore all that stuff."

So what is Omar Hunter hoping to prove this season?

"Right now I'm just trying to show everyone that last year I was injured a lot and this year I really am (the player) Coach Meyer thought I was."

I caught up with Omar and was able to have a short one-on-one conversation.

LV: How much are you enjoying just being healthy enough to go out on the practice field and compete every day?

OH: "I definitely am. I'm learning stuff that I never knew before. I'm back on the team and being with the guys. Last year I didn't feel like I was a part of the team because I was always hurt."

LV: How hard was that for the first time in your life to have to stand around and watch instead of playing?

OH: "It was definitely depressing, but the coaches were always grabbing me and telling me that everything was going to be alright and just keep working."

LV: What can you bring to this defense?

OH: "Just another guy, Another guy in the rotation who can go in and get some reps here and there. If I have to play that role in order to get this team better then that's what I'll do."

LV: Tell me about wearing number 99. Is that a salute to Warren Sapp?

OH: "Actually the only reason I wanted 99 is that my best friend in high school wore number nine. I couldn't get number nine when I got here (Louis Murphy had it) so I switched to 99."

LV: But is he guy you pattern you're game after? I mean the first time I saw video of you I thought I was looking at Warren Sapp's younger brother.

OH: (chuckling) "Definitely, I definitely loved watching Warren Sapp play. He's definitely someone I idolize and want to play like."

Omar Hunter has really impressed me this spring and there's no doubt he can be a significant force this fall and into the future as long as he stays healthy. If the top five tackles in the Gator rotation can last the entire season, Florida will have no problems at those positions.

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