June 30, 2008

Could 4-star Hunter join Vol secondary?

Painful shin splints have kept D.J. Hunter from running quite as much as he would like to this summer. But nothing has slowed the torrent of offers for the four-star defensive back from Middletown (Ohio) High School.

Among those programs to have offered the talented Hunter is Tennessee, which is stacked with a loaded secondary for 2008 but looks to reload for 2009.

So, of those approximately 40 schools who have offered the 6-foot, 196-pounder, where does Tennessee stand?

"They're definitely in my top three," Hunter said of the Vols.

Nearby Ohio State, which sits roughly 100 miles from Hunter's hometown and has tendered an offer, and Indiana also are believed to rest among Hunter's favorites.

Versatile enough to return kicks, blitz from a variety of spots on the field and provide blanket coverage, Hunter plans a visit to Knoxville next month. He was returning from an unofficial visit to Indiana during this interview.

"I'm going down there (to Tennessee) on July 8," said Hunter, being recruited by new Vols offensive coordinator Dave Clawson. "I'm going down there and up to Wisconsin, too. I'm also going to West Virginia and Louisville (in July)."

Hunter, who ran a blistering 4.4 40-yard dash, first got to know Clawson this spring, when Tennessee's first-year offensive coordinator showed up at his school located between Cincinnati and Dayton.

"He came to my school one day before I went to a track meet," Hunter said of Clawson, "and then we just started from there."

Hunter, who said the shin splints finally have healed, has worked this spring and summer to refine aspects of his game. He also has a feel of what he brings to the gridiron.

"Speed and quickness," Hunter said. "I think I've gotten way better. The plays, I wasn't getting them really that good last year. I know how to do my thing and not over-pursue. Before I would run real fast and try to break down real quick. I'm reading things better."

After visiting Knoxville last year during the AAU Junior Olympics, Hunter is eager to gain a more in-depth look at the Tennessee campus.

"I've been there before," said Hunter, who's clocked a 10.5 personal best in the 100-meter dash and a 21.9 in the 200m. "I went down there for nationals, and then we went into the stadium. I heard it was real nice there."

It's possible Hunter will schedule an official visit with the Vols this fall, though he indicated he planned to make a decision before his senior season.

"I'd like to go to the Tennessee-Florida game," Hunter said, mirroring the wishes of several other high-profile recruits.

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