SMU Fall Camp Notebook: Day 5

The Pony Stampede staff will be at every SMU fall camp practice this month and will provide exclusive stories, videos, and observations. Today we reflect on Day 5.

Conditioned Hunt Ready To Impose Will On Opponents

By EJ Holland

Margus Hunt takes a deep breath and puts his hands on hips. With a maniacal look on his face, he looks down at the ground, where teammates lay in agony.

The 6-foot-8, 275-pound monster of a man says with a thunderous tone, ‘stop being a bunch of babies and get up. This is nothing.'

While most skill position players are chugging water, battling cramps and wheezing, Hunt seems absolutely unfazed by the rigorous conditioning test SMU players have to go through on the opening day of fall camp.

"I remember the first time I did the conditioning test, everybody told me that I couldn't get on me knees. They told me to stay up," Hunt explains. "That really has been with me for the last four years. Every time I feel like collapsing, I stay mentally strong and stand up."

Sporting a Marvel comic Punisher tee, Hunt truly plays the part. He down right makes the opposition tremble in fear as he delivers a punishing blows. Hunt is the perfect epitome of the term athlete.

But just three years ago, Hunt barely knew what football was. He arrived on the Hilltop from Estonia as world-class tack athlete to train privately with SMU's David Wolman in 2007 but was convinced to give football a try.

Now, Hunt is still absorbing information when it comes to schemes but has moved past the awkward stage of learning the basics and has established himself as a force to be reckoned with on a national level.

"I don't know everything yet, but I feel comfortable playing now. I'm just trying to find all the little details that will help elevate my play," Hunt said. " The most important thing that helped me was conditioning and getting into football shape. It is a completely different ball game than track and field. Technically, I'm pretty solid. It's just a matter of repetition."

Hunt is an intriguing physical specimen and takes pride in the grueling conditioning he puts himself through. After Wednesday's rained out practice, most players dashed off of campus, but not Hunt- he stayed in the weight room. In fact, it's been that way the entire offseason.

"After the bowl game, we took a month off pretty much. Since February, we started doing some work," Hunt said. "We did some aerobics and started running a mile before every workout then did weights. When summer came, I was in tip-top shape. I just felt mentally and physically prepared."

Most people do forget that Hunt was actually not a starter last year. The return of nose tackle Torlan Pittman allowed senior Marquis Frazier to slide back outside, leaving Hunt as the odd man out. But there is no doubt he will be back in the starting role this year.

"I'm pretty happy about being a starter again. I was a backup last year but whenever I got a chance to play, I gave my best," Hunt said. "As Coach (Tom) Mason says, you're one play away from being a starter. There can't be a drop off. I was just trying to be the best backup I could be."

In SMU's BBVA Compass Bowl win over Pittsburgh, Hunt played out of his mind and recorded three sacks. Judging from his work ethic, it's a sign of things to come, but Hunt remains humble and is only working towards team goals and even ignoring talks about his NFL draft stock.

"Whatever Coach Mason says," Hunt said after being asked what he wanted to personally accomplish in 2012. "I've never set any goals for myself. I've never been that type of person. I like to just go as it goes and do all the little details right. I just need to keep pushing myself and working hard. As a team, I expect us to do a lot this year. We have a really great group defensively."

Before SMU's opening game, Hunt said he will be listening to piano and classical music, but once its time for kickoff Baylor better be ready for the beast to be unleashed.

Video: OLB Robert Seals talks about his fall camp experience



Senior Nose Tackle Supplying SMU With Energy



By Beionny Mickles

War paint, energy, and passion are three things that you might see on the face of nose tackle Aaron Davis. Whether it's on the practice field, an SMU opponent's field, or Ford Stadium, Davis takes great pride in being a vocal and emotional leader for the Mustangs and says that you never know the impact it could make.

"I definitely take pride in that," the fifth-year senior said. "I think that I'm kind of an emotional guy, and I've always been a leader in whatever I've been in. I'm passionate about what I do, and I think that just a few words or just changing the attitude could change things. It could change practice… could change a game."

Davis, who will line up behind returning starter Torlan Pittman, has been with the Mustangs since 2008, and it was then that he earned the nickname ‘Spike' which comes from the 1994 film Little Giants.

"In the Little Giants, there's a kid named spike in there, and I had that same fade haircut and apparently I look like him," Davis explained. "When you're a new guy, I think that's when you get a nickname. It just kind of sticks because no one knows your real name so that's kind of how Spike stuck."

Davis believes that the defensive line has great depth this year and that will prove to be a great asset to the team. Davis also says that his workouts this summer have paid off.

He believes that he is not only fast and in great shape but has reached his desired playing weight of 285 pounds. Davis hopes his hard work will translate into big plays for the Mustangs in 2012.

"I want to make some big plays on special teams, and I want to make an impact in the game, create some turnovers," Davis said. "I want to win a conference championship, and go to a big bowl. If I can make the team better, that's what I want to do; spiritually, emotionally, all that stuff."

Day 5 Observations:

- Safety Ryan Smith worked with the receivers to start off practice as he continues to work on his ability to catch balls and make interceptions

- Arrius Holleman was back on the field last year after leaving early yesterday with chest pains. Holleman struggled and dropped a few balls.

- Defensive players gathered in a circle this morning and things got a little physical as Torlan Pittman basically pancaked Randall Joyner

- Gehrig Dieter made a string of good catches on the sideline today and has been looking faster

- A representative from the New York Jets showed up at practice today. Wasn't allowed to talk to media.

- SMU alums Youri Yenga, Bennie Thomas, and Justin Sorrell also observed practice

- Neal Burcham showed some nice accuracy today but still needs to work on his deep ball

- There was a string of four dropped passes in drills today. Really beginning to look like a problem. Biggest offenders: Holleman, Ronnell Sims, and Marcus Holyfield

- James Richardson has had a very impressive camp and made several great plays today. Der'Rikk Thompson has yet to catch a deep ball on him and Richardson blanketed every receiver he's covered on the outside. Richardson Island?

- Connor Preston continues to throw very nice balls. Threw one to Bobby Wade between the safety and corner down the left hash for a touchdown in a scrimmage

- Austin Fuller was a no-show at practice today. More on that tomorrow.

- Stephen Nelson sat out practice with a hyperextended knee. He sid he's not sure how long he'll be out.

- A.J. Justice and Christian Chamagua are still resting with hamstring injuries

- "Take it away!" kept being yelled by defensive coaches at practice today. After every ball was caught the defense tried to strip it.

- Freshman Horace Richardson has good coverage on Jeremy Johnson on a couple of plays during a scrimmage.

- Cameron Rogers dropped an interception that went through his hands today thrown by Garrett Gilbert

- Preston threw a corner route to rookie receiver Daijuan Stewart who caught it on the sideline with both feet in bounds.

- The play of the day for me was Holleman's grab on the right hash against double coverage by Chris Parks and Jeremy Gray

- In 11-on-11 drills, Stavion Lowe really struggled and still looks out of shape. He was constantly beaten and needs be quicker when the ball snaps

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