From the time Devon Hunter stepped onto the football field at Chesapeake (Va.) Indian River as a freshman in 2013 it was clear his talent was special. He did it all, lining up at quarterback, wide receiver, running back and safety. Along the way, however, it became clear that there were aspects of being a star player that he had to grow into. As a sophomore he showed he’d done just that.
“Last season I stepped into a leadership (role),” Hunter recalled. “I know (during) my freshman year I really wasn’t interested in being a leader for the team, but I had to step up play more on defense and offense. I was one the leading receivers on my team, so my hard work paid off. I improved a lot from my freshman year because I matured more. (I) studied more film and it just all opened up for me. It started getting easier and I started making better plays.”
“I had eight touchdowns, 57 receptions, 71 tackles, I think seven or eight pass breakups, 31 solo tackles, and an interception.”
That progress wasn’t lost on college coaches who were already watching Indian River closely thanks to their courtship of 2016 standout, Jaquan Yulee. One couldn’t help but notice Hunter flying around the secondary. And despite his ability to be an imposing force at wideout, Hunter believes that in college his bread will be buttered on defense. To date over two-dozen programs have offered the 6-3 185-pounder such an opportunity. One of the most recent to come to the table was the University of Michigan.
“It came out of the blue,” Hunter said. “I really didn’t expect that to happen. I knew Jaquan was getting a lot of interest from them. They called (the school) and they told him that he had an offer. I found out I had one too and that surprised me a lot and I was extremely excited because Jim Harbaugh is one of my favorite coaches. My favorite safety plays for the 49ers, Eric Reid. I’ve always looked up to him, so when I found out Jim Harbaugh got the job, I was really excited. It brought a lot of joy to me.”
Now Hunter is focused on learning more about a program that he has admired from afar for some time.
“I like a whole bunch of schools,” he said. “Michigan really was one of my favorite schools to look up to. I like Miami, Virginia Tech, Alabama, LSU, Oregon… I like all those teams. There is really not a team that really stood out to me that I really like that I was a diehard fan of. I just like all the teams that play.”
“I know my favorite quarterback Tom Brady came from (Michigan). They’ve got the biggest stadium in the nation. I know a couple of other Hall of Fame players that came from over there, but I really did not do a whole lot of research on it. I will now though.”
The next step in the process for the Wolverines is getting the four-star standout up to Ann Arbor for a visit. Thus far he’s only visited programs fairly close to home like Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Maryland. He plans on traveling a little further from home in the not too distant future, and that includes taking a trip to the Great Lake State.
“Me and Jaquan might travel up there together,” said Hunter. “I don’t really know for sure (when that trip will happen) right now but it’ll be soon. It won’t be too far from now.”
That and other visits will go a long way toward helping the talented youngster establish a leaderboard. He doesn’t plan to begin giving order to his lengthy list until he can get out and actually see how well they live up to his criteria.
“First of all (schools will be evaluated on) what I want to major in,” he explained. “Right now I don’t know what I’m going to major in. Sports science is one that I might want to major in. With the football program… I don’t like coaches that are real dull. I like coaches that are energetic and get hyped for you when you make a big play. (I like coaches that aren’t) boring in practice. In addition (I’ll look at) the fan base; the school overall. Also the food, because I love to eat.”
Another positive factor could be Yulee’s commitment to one of the schools on Hunter’s list.
“We’ve discuss that all the time,” said Hunter regarding their desire to be teammates again after high school. “Me and Jaquan, we’re like brothers. Every time we get an offer from a school that one of us has an offer, we talk about it all the time. When he transferred in we had a good relationship (instantly), so we talk about it. When we got the Michigan offer, we would just planning on when we would go visit and stuff like that. We do that a lot.”
Ultimately Hunter will choose the best fit whether Yulee is present or not, and he insists he will go anywhere in the country to find it. As it stands he plans on taking his time with the search.
“I’ve got a long time to figure (a collegiate destination) out so I’ll wait,” he stated. “When (the time comes) I’ll have to talk it out with my family members to get it all together. They’ll tell me the school they want me go to and ask for my opinion and I’ll just go from there. “