Imminent WSU arrival for Hunter

RIGHT ABOUT NOW, Derek Hunter's at the halfway mark of a 1,500-mile road trip. He's making the drive from southern California to Washington State, with plans to wheel into Pullman on Friday. He has yet to put on a Cougar helmet, but the JC offensive lineman who has four years to play three, already finds himself listed on the three deeps.

Hunter (6-4.5, 285) said that recognition --- penned in at No. 3 at right tackle behind Andy Roof and starter Charles Harris on the August depth chart --- doesn't mean all that much. Not until he goes out and earns it.

"I don't really pay attention to any of that," he said.

He's arriving in Pullman two weeks early in order to get acclimated and, frankly, because he's ready to start swappin' paint in the trenches.

"I'm actually really stoked," said Hunter. "I want to get myself ready and meet some of the guys up there."

Hunter has stayed in close contact with offensive line coach George Yarno since Signing Day, talking every other week.

With legs like tree trunks, he's been concentrating on improving his upper body strength this spring and summer. His junior college coach at Fullerton, the venerable Gene Murphy, called it an "injustice" that Hunter slipped thought he cracks and wasn't playing Division I ball last year.

Murphy said the 18-year old has the potential to be "humongous" after some time in the Cougar strength program and has the skills and talent to play left tackle in the Pac-10.

"From the waist down, he's an NFL guy already," said Murphy. "And that's the good news because that's the toughest part of the body to build up. And he can't do anything but get bigger up top."

Murphy, who's been in the coaching game for 40-plus years, has sent over 45 players on to the NFL and CFL.

Because he was a full qualifier out of high school, Hunter did not have to earn his AA degree at Fullerton before coming to WSU. He'll have 4 to play 3 for the Cougs. He anchored the Fullerton line at the left tackle spot last season as a freshman, on his way to being named all-conference.

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