Penn State's Tony Hunt doesn't have the name recognition of some of the other running back prospects entering the NFL Draft. However, Hunt secured a legacy at his school, becoming only the fifth player in school history to rush for more than 3,000 yards in a career. He was also the sixth player to rush for more than 1,000 yards in more than one season. Given Penn State's rich legacy, these are impressive feats.
Hunt was a three-sport star at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Va., excelling in football, basketball and track. After his senior season, he was named to the Washington Post All-Metro second team. He was also selected as the Alexandria Sportsman Club Player of the Year.
In his freshman season at Penn State, he had 34 carries for 110 yards and a touchdown.
As a sophomore, Hunt led the team with 169 carries for 777 yards and seven touchdowns. He also had 39 catches for 334 yards. On top of all that, he returned eight kickoffs for 112 yards.
In 2005, Hunt again led the team in rushing, with 1,047 yards on 174 attempts, and added 20 catches for 206 yards. For his accomplishments he was named to All-Big Ten Conference second team.
In his senior season, he was once again named to the All-Big Ten Conference second team after compiling 1,228 and 11 touchdowns on 246 carries. He also caught 26 balls for 252 yards and three touchdowns.
Hunt is seen as a big, bruiser type back that should be able to bust through a line and get the yardage to move the chains. He's 6-foot and weighs 230 pounds. His strength and balance help him to break tackles, set up defenders for a quick move and make up for the top-end speed he lacks. He is able to get tough yards by keeping his legs churning.
His vision and instincts are good in that he has a knack for finding lanes and detecting when his holes are there. He also does not seem to mind just putting his head down and trying to get a few extra yards when a lot of backs might go down or out of bounds. His arms are very flexible and help him to catch balls that aren't necessarily on target.
Hunt is not a speedy back, first and foremost, so teams looking for a back that can break off the big run at any time need not look to him. Hunt's 40 times have typically fallen in the 4.6 to 4.7 range. He must do his best to stay low on his carries, because he can be driven backwards when he does get too high.
While he has a sense of where his lanes are and can effectively cut to them, when he gets into trouble, he isn't as adept as he could be in juking defenders.
One other thing he needs to work on during his carries is his skills in switching hands to keep the ball away from tacklers.
The earliest he might be selected is in the second round by a team like the Tennessee Titans or Philadelphia Eagles, who could use some running back help, but not as its top priority. If teams pass him up then, look for him to fall into the third round, when the New England Patriots or Chicago Bears might come calling. The St. Louis Rams and Green Bay Packers have each met with Hunt; both of those franchises could use a running back, for different reasons. In any circumstance, Hunt should not fall past the third round.
About Ray Hinnant
Ray has been with KFFL since 2006.
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