By Jody Demling - Cardinal Authority

Senior offensive lineman Khalil Hunter was not happy with last season; now a starter the former JUCO star is hoping to make a difference

University of Louisville senior offensive lineman Khalil Hunter didn't have the season he expected a year ago for the Cardinals. But now the former junior college star is hoping to make a differences in the trenches for the Cardinals.

Khalil Hunter didn't have the season he wanted last fall for the Louisville Cardinals football program.

A former junior college All-American, Hunter came to U of L with some high hopes and a lot of expectations. But Hunter didn't get to start a game and only played in two games for the Cardinals.

"I came from a junior college and we ran five plays," Hunter said with a chuckle. "It was different for me to come here and in this offense. It was a big change for me and it just took me a lot of time to get adjusted.

"I feel like I let myself down."

But once the season was over, Hunter was ready to try and position himself for a spot on the line.

Hunter said he met with offensive line coach Chris Klenakis and the other coaches and the message was clear that he "had a shot" to earn a starting position in spring ball and into fall camp.

"I've worked hard," Hunter said. "I just got into my playbook and started working hard."

Well, it's worked for Hunter. After two weeks of fall camp, the 6-foot-4, 305-pound Hunter would be one of the starting guards for the Cardinals if they played a game right now. He's expected to keep that spot for the Sept. 1 opener against Charlotte.

"He's extremely strong and athletic and moves very well," offensive line coach Chris Klenakis said. "What he's done to really help himself is improve his football intelligence. By learning the offense, studying film, he has a way better grasp of the offense than he did last year."

Hunter said he knows there's still work to be done and said he wasn't thinking about starting right now, only working hard for the rest of camp.

"It's just been a lot easier compared to last year," Hunter said. "It's just all so much slower and that helps out. I've studied and tried to make sure i know the offense and that's been big for me."

A native of Orlando, Fla., Hunter played high school ball at Agape Christian Academy and had some offers to go to the Division I level. But he ended up at Eastern Arizona Junior College for two seasons.

He was named a second-team All-American at the JUCO level and now appears to be a key contributor in his final season at Louisville.

"I'm ready to help the team win," Hunter said.

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