Vols In Hunt For Hunter

Last season Tennessee established inroads to the gridiron rich recruiting territory of Pennsylvania by signing Erie, Pa., middle linebacker Andre Mathis.

This year the Vols are looking to follow up on that success and have a couple of targets locked in on the radar screen. On Tuesday we shared a story on the nation's No. 2 rated running back LeSean McCoy of Harrisburg.

Today we feature outside linebacker/running back prospect Jeremiha Hunter of Manheim, Pa., who is rated No. 16 among the nation's linebackers but fits UT's defensive scheme to a T.

Athletic and instinctive, the six-foot, 200-pound Hunter runs a 4.5 time in the 40 and is outstanding in pass coverage. As a sophomore and junior starter he amassed a combined total of 268 tackles on defense while rushing for 2,600 yards and 45 touchdowns. He led Manheim Central to the state championship game last season but missed the title tilt after suffering a broken arm in the semifinal.

The injury later required surgery after it didn't heal properly. However he now appears to be on the mend and poised for a stellar senior season that will undoubtedly drive his stock higher among collegiate scouts.

"I haven't done too much studying on team's depth charts yet," Hunter told Scout.com's Jeff Baumhower recently, "but I plan on doing that real soon to see who's leaving, who's coming in, who they are recruiting, who they have committed."

If Hunter takes a look at Tennessee's depth chart he will find three senior starters the Vols must replace to maintain a strong defense in 2006. Although he won't be ready to step into a starting role as a true freshman, Hunter could definitely earn significant playing time. His ability to blitz or cover backs and receivers makes him an ideal candidate to play weak-side linebacker in Tennessee's attacking 4-3 alignment.

There's no shortage of teams needing speed at linebacker and schools are contending for an official visit from the Manheim prospect who appears to be wide open at this point. Hunter currently lists Connecticut, Florida, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State and Tennessee as his top choices. He has been offered by each program, but won't decide until he takes all of his visits.

A solid student, Hunter carries a 3.2 GPA and is awaiting the results of the ACT which he took for the first time in June. Despite his physical setbacks from last season and the complications that required his broken arm be reset, Hunter is reportedly undergoing a growth spurt that has increased his height to 6-foot-2 and his weight to 215 pounds, although those numbers haven't been officially confirmed.

He already has good strength as underscored by his 300-pound bench press, 450-pound squat and 285-pound power clean. Add speed, quickness, agility and intelligence to his list of attributes and you have a potential impact player on defense.

And what better name is there for a linebacker than Hunter?

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