RB Has Lions in the Hunt

With Penn State's high-flying offense riding the wings of young wideouts like Deon Butler, Derrick Williams, Jordan Norwood and Justin King, it probably isn't surprising that the ground game has received little attention this season. However, Tony Hunt's play has been making a major impact for the Lions week in and week out.

When we spoke with Hunt back in June, he discussed the team's goals, saying "We are tired of losing and our main goal is to win the Big Ten and get back to being a contender."

Though this was the attitude most fans wanted to hear, many throughout the Nittany Nation were skeptical given recent history and adopted a "show-me-don't tell-me" attitude. Hunt not only pointed directly at the young wideouts, but also the renewed attitude and approach of the offense, seemingly embracing his supporting role by saying, "I am looking to play whatever role the team needs me to play, I just want to contribute."

Four and a half months later, Hunt's actions have matched those off-season words. With two regular season games remaining, Penn State is on top of the Big Ten standings and the players control their ability to fulfill the goals they set early on.

What's interesting is that the spotlight on Penn State's new high-octane offense has illuminated the young wide receivers — Williams, King, Butler and Norwood, including an ESPN The Magazine feature article on the four earlier this season with PSU's running game being mentioned as an afterthought, if at all.

Though Hunt's performance has been ignored by much of the media, he has played an essential role in the success of the Lions, a role which was not easily earned while competing against in-state favorite and record-setting back Austin Scott.

Through nine games, though, Hunt has rolled up 807 yards on 130 carries. His average yards per game (89.67 yards) place him at No. 38 nationally. However, his average yards per carry (6.2 yards) place him among the best in the country at No. 19. Four of his game performances have resulted in more than 100 yards, with a fifth just missing the mark with 99 yards.

In terms of the Big Ten, his average yards per carry place him at No. 2 among rushers with 100 carries or more, behind Gary Russell of Minnesota of Minnesota. He also has the second-longest run in conference play at 70 yards, behind Golden Gopher Lawrence Maroney's 90-yard scamper.

What may be even more incredible is the fact that Hunt has shared carries with another top-10 conference rusher — quarterback Michael Robinson, who has rolled up 570 yards on 117 carries. The only other team with two top-10 Big Ten rushers is Minnesota (Maroney and Russell).

One area in which Hunt has shown versatility is receiving, pulling in 15 passes for 139 yards (9.3 yards per catch). Which places him sixth on the team for yardage and above standout receivers Ethan Kilmer and King.

If Penn State manages to achieve the goals it set out to accomplish you can be sure the spotlight will intensify on the young wideouts and Robinson. However, the Lions would not have been able to turn things around as they have without the play of Hunt.

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Check out this audio file, which includes comments from Tony Hunt, and comments from fullback BranDon Snow and quarterback Michael Robinsin on Hunt.

HEAR HUNT, SNOW AND ROBINSON HERE.

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