When it comes to position battles at both safety spots, sophomore walk-on Andre Hunt does not plan to come quietly.
Hunt, who emerged last season as yet another Rutgers walk-on success story, is locked in on any opportunities available in the defensive secondary. Hunt learned both safety positions at Rutgers after a high school career at running back. He replaced the injured Kiy Hester Saturday in both sub-packages and on the two deep.
“The competition level is great, and I feel like I’m being pushed to learn and improve,” Hunt said. “You have to work hard on the field, and it brings us all together. We’re a group, so it’s nice to have that competition.”
Hunt’s versatility and savvy earned him surprise playing time last season, including a start in the historic victory over Michigan. The 2015 season could be the same where he already filled in for an injured Hester in Saturday’s scrimmage.
“Learning free [safety] helped, and strong helps me learn both positions more,” Hunt said. “I can learn from both and know what the corners are doing. I know what the linebackers are doing. I have a full understanding of our defense so I can also help someone out if they don’t understand what’s going on.”
Hunt said he often misses running back – his father’s position for four seasons at Wisconsin – but has a new favorite role on the gridiron.
“I would say strong safety is my preference,” he said. “It’s more aggressive with the run. You have to play physical, so I like that.”
A role on kickoff coverage is also in Hunt’s future.
“Not everyone is fond of special teams, but it’s a mistake to think like that,” Hunt said. “You have to understand that it’s a big part of the game. It can be the difference between a win and loss, so I take it very seriously.”