Data Scout Notes: 2012: 2ndC/2ndM...P2ndC/P2ndM/PBiletnikoff...2011: NA/#3WR rising before knee INJ
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The Virginia Beach, Va. Native was a Top 175 prospect by Rivals.com and was invited to the Under Armour All-America game after catching 46 passes for 714 yards and nine touchdowns as a high school senior in 2009.
Hunter signed with Tennessee and earned immediate action, averaging an eye-popping 25.9 yards per catch in 2010 and earning a spot on the All-SEC Freshman team.
He looked well on his way toward establishing himself as a potential all-conference selection in 2011, racking up 315 receiving yards over the first two games before tearing his ACL in Tennessee's first offensive series against Florida.
One of the top high school recruits Derek Dooley was able to lure to Knoxville, Hunter is a good sized target and displays explosive footwork in and out of his breaks, which is probably his best quality. He isn't the most natural hands-catcher on throws away from his body and appears to battle streaky confidence due to his drops. Hunter has some durability concerns because of his lean build and '11 knee injury.
He has first-round talent, but the drops and inconsistency hurt his value, making it tough to trust him. Hunter has a high ceiling if he can refine several areas of his game and is worth the chance in the second round, but it wouldn't be surprising if he a team takes a chance on his upside in the first round.
Strengths: Hunter is a tall, long athlete with an exception catching radius and reach. He is a fluid, gliding mover with long strides and deceiving speed to get vertical or make plays after the catch. He has strong footwork in/out of his breaks with sharp route quickness to sell patterns and create some separation. He tracks the ball beautifully, adjusting with outstanding body control.
Hunter does a nice job becoming a DB downfield to knock balls away and prevent the INT. He has the size/speed combination to attract defensive holding and pass interference penalties in his routes. Hunter has experience lining up as an X, Y and Z receiver, lining up all over the offense for Tennessee.
He had a productive 2012 season as one of only four SEC receivers to surpass 1,000 receiving yards, finishing third in receiving yards (1,083) and touchdown grabs (9). Despite just 17 career starts, Hunter finishes his Tennessee career ranked top-five in career 100-yard receiving games (8) and touchdown catches (18).
Weaknesses: Hunter has a lean body type from head to toe and needs to add more strength and bulk, but lacks the frame to easily put on weight. He isn't overly explosive after the catch and is a little straight-linish, lacking flexible ankles and needing a moment when changing his directions. Hunter plays rushed and needs to stay under control in his routes and when locating the ball.
He needs to eliminate some bad habits, playing wild at times, jumping when he doesn't need to and losing yardage when he reverses his field trying to do too much. Hunter lacks natural hands to corral fastballs and is too inconsistent catching the ball with a lot of body catches and double catches. He needs to secure grabs and doesn't always look the ball into his hands or locate, battling streaky hand/eye coordination.
Hunter gets obviously frustrated by off-target throws and too often he lets poor body language show, needing to stay focused for all four quarters and keep his emotions in-check. He needs to be more aggressive on 50/50 and jump balls and how better conviction, often lacking the physicality to consistently out-muscle most defensive backs.
Hunter often has some alligator arms over the middle with defenders bearing down on him and needs to sell out for catches. He lacks the build to break tackles, but he needs to play tougher instead of giving up his body or escaping out of bounds. Hunter holds the ball too loose after the catch and needs to protect the ball.
He has some durability concerns because of his lean build, including a torn ACL in his left knee (Sept. 17, 2011). Hunter struggled against top competition in 2012 with just 2 of his 9 touchdowns coming against SEC foes and his 4 100-yard receiving performances were against Georgia State, Akron, Troy and Missouri.
Compares To: Mix of AJ Green, Bengals/Brian Quick, Rams - Like Green, Hunter is a tall, athletic receiver with very good speed and length for the position, but like Quick, he is also unpolished in several areas, including inconsistent hands.
Hunter led the Vols and finished third in the SEC with 73 catches for 1,083 yards. His total for catches ranked second-most in a season in Tennessee history and his yardage total was third all-time in a season.
Hunter scored nine receiving touchdowns, including a school-record tying three TDs in two different games this season. He scored three touchdowns against both Georgia State and Troy. Hunter had four 100-yard receiving games as a junior including a career-high 181 vs. Troy. He became the eighth Vol with a 1,000-yard receiving season.
Games/Starts:12/12...19th in NCAA/3rd in SEC in receiving yards with 1,083...24th in NCAA/3rd in SEC in receiving yards per game (90.3)...Fourth in SEC in catches per game (6.1), 37th in NCAA...Led Vols with 73 catches for 1,083 yards and nine receiving touchdowns in 2012...On the single-season receptions list, Hunter had second-best season with 73 catches, the record is 76 by Marcus Nash in 1997
Finished with 1,083 receiving yards, ranks third on single-season yards list, behind Robert Meachem (1,298) and Nash (1,170)...With eight 100-yard receiving games, tied for third-most in a career in Tennessee history (record 15, J.Kent)...With 18 career receiving touchdowns, tied for fifth-most in career at UT...1,812 career receiving yards stands 11th all-time...Tied UT record for receiving touchdowns in a game twice in 2012 with three vs. Georgia State and Troy...Became eighth Vol with a 1,000-yard receiving season...Had tied UT record for most catches in first two games of a season tying Johnny Mills in 1966 with 17...Closed season with three catches for 65 yards including a 42-yard receiving touchdown vs. Kentucky (11/24).
Suffered season-ending torn ACL in left knee at #16 Florida (9/17), underwent surgery and looks to return in spring. Finished year with 17 catches for 314 yards (18.5 yards per catch and 104.7 yards per game). Leads UT in receiving with 16 catches for 302 yards (8.0 catches per game and 151.0 yards per game. Still leads SEC in receiving yards per game (104.7) and ranks second to teammate Da'Rick Rogers in catches per game (5.67). Prior to injury, ranked 12th in the NCAA/first in SEC in receptions/game (8.0) and 10th/1st in SEC in receiving yards/game (151.0). Was leading UT in receiving with 16 catches for 302 yards (8.0 catches per game and 151.0 yards per game) in first two games. Set UT record for most receiving yards in first two games of a season with 302 in first two this year. Has set new career-highs for catches and yards in each of the first two games this season
Earned Coaches' All-SEC Freshman Team honors. One of seven true freshmen to play in every game for Tennessee, including a pair of starts. First career start came vs. Alabama. Caught 16 passes for 415 yards and seven touchdowns. Broke UT freshman record for receiving TDs with seven, which ranked tied for first among all NCAA FBS freshmen receivers. Four of TDs were from 30 yards or longer. Led team with 25.9 yards per catch. Nine catches went for 20 or more yards. Despite not having a catch in four games, ranked fourth on the team in receiving yards (415) and second on the Vols with seven TD receptions. Tied for eighth in the SEC with two 100-yard receiving performances. Led UT in receiving yards in three games and receptions on one occasion. Seventh TD was lone reception in Music City Bowl vs. North Carolina to put the Vols ahead 20-17 in the fourth quarter. In second career start, hauled in three receptions for a career-high 114 receiving yards to complement his first multi-TD game (two) vs. Mississippi, including a career-long catch of 80 yards on the Vols' first offensive play.
Despite just 17 career starts, Hunter finishes his Tennessee career ranked top-five in career 100-yard receiving games (8) and touchdown catches (18).
2011: Suffered a season-ending torn ACL in his left knee against Florida on Sept. 17.
Virginia High School Coaches AAA All-State. Earned spot on Rivals100 list as the No 75 overall prospect in the nation by Rivals.com. Also rated as the No. 3 prospect in Virginia and No. 8 overall wide receiver by Rivals.com. Rated as the No. 11 wide receiver by Scout.com. Participated in the Under Armour All-America Game. Tallied 46 receptions for 714 yards and nine touchdowns as a senior in 2009. As a junior in 2008, caught 34 passes for 545 yards and 13 TDs.
Full Name: Justin Scott Hunter. Born on May 20, 1991 in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Son of Gloria Hunter and Michael Clark. Majoring in Arts & Sciences
Draft Scout Player News
11/27/13 - WR Justin Hunter is beginning to blossom. After a couple of teases, including a winning touchdown catch earlier in the year, Hunter has seen more action and had six catches for 109 yards and a touchdown against Oakland.
11/25/13 - WR Justin Hunter looks to get more playing time after the best game of his young career. The rookie caught six passes for 109 yards and a 54-yard touchdown.
11/15/13 - WR Justin Hunter is being evaluated for concussion symptoms and will have to go through the protocol, but should be ready vs. the Raiders.
11/06/13 - WR Justin Hunter caught two passes on Sunday vs. the Rams, and both of those receptions were third-down conversions to keep drives alive.
10/30/13 - WR Justin Hunter could see an increase in his reps over the second half of the season, according to coach Mike Munchak.