Hunter Stalks Opportunity

Hunter DeBerry has got a great football name, but it is not a name that is well known in recruiting circles. That could be changing in coming weeks as the 6-foot, 190-pound receiver completes an impressive senior season at Hardin County High School.

The athletic DeBerry is a standout in both baseball and football. He played right field for the Tigers as a sophomore and hit a fabulous .425. He moved to center field as a junior and hit .320 with 31 stolen bases and four assists. Unfortunately his pursuit of baseball interests through the spring and summer kept him from making any football camps or combines, leaving him a largely unknown entity.

It's hard to ignore the back-to-back seasons DeBerry has put together at Hardin County. As a junior, the three-year starter had 33 catches for 815 yards and 13 touchdowns as the Tigers went 7-4 and earned a Class-4A state playoff bid. Through eight games this fall, DeBerry again has 33 catches for over 700 yards and has scored nine touchdowns. In last week's 38-7 victory over Memphis Hillcrest, he ran the ball four times for 71 yards and a scored a four-yard touchdown. The Tigers tangle with Jackson Central Merry on Friday for a chance to qualify for the state playoffs where they would face Memphis Melrose in the first round.

The fact DeBerry has virtually duplicated what he did as a junior during 11 games in only eight games as a senior, (He missed the first game of the season with a dislocated shoulder) is testimony to his improvement. He has also done it without experienced veteran QB Adam Milligan, who graduated last spring and was promptly plucked by the Atlanta Braves in the MLB Draft. His replacement is a sophomore who's learning on the job behind an offensive line which is doing much the same. In one game the young Tiger signal caller was sacked 10 times.

Beyond those statistics Hunter DeBerry has tangible talent that makes him a legitimate Division I prospect.

"Last year at speed camp I ran a 4.51," he said. "This year at our summer workouts I ran a 4.47. I bench press 255 pounds. I squat 380, and I power clean 260."

DeBerry, who runs a 4.28 shuttle time, also plays safety on defense, but his position at the next level is probably wideout, according to Hardin County assistant coach Chris Roser.

"He's starting to play more defense for us," Roser explained. "He's a natural split end or slot receiver. He can play either of those positions. He makes the quarterback look good by just going up and pulling down a lot of passes. I believe we measured him at 36-inches in the vertical. I know he can dunk a basketball with two hands. He can really jump and he's very athletic."

DeBerry has been receiving letters from several schools like MTSU, Memphis and Arkansas State, and he was invited by the Vols to attend the Tennessee-Alabama game last week. He has offers for baseball and has considered trying both sports in college.

"He had a real good time at Tennessee," said Hunter's father Keith DeBerry. "He got to meet the coaches and players. He may go up for the Kentucky game this season."

The DeBerrys are lifelong Big Orange fans and Hunter would like nothing better than a chance to play for the Vols. Of course, he could also be drafted by a Major League team next June, so his athletic future, while bright, is up in the air.

He is fully qualified with a 21 score on his first attempt at the ACT, and he is active in his church and community. If character counts as much as talent Hunter DeBerry is worth a long look.

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