2025 Draft: Travis Hunter, a twofer?

Apr 27, 2024; Boulder, CO, USA; Colorado Buffaloes cornerback Travis Hunter (12) warms up before a spring game event at Folsom Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 27, 2024; Boulder, CO, USA; Colorado Buffaloes cornerback Travis Hunter (12) warms up before a spring game event at Folsom Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

It’s no secret Travis Hunter is the most dynamic and versatile player in college football. It’s not just that he plays both cornerback and wide receiver but that he plays both positions at a very high level.


Hunter has become a trailblazer in college football with his high level of play on both sides of the ball. He is doing things on the field that we have not seen in a very long time and projects to be a top-five pick in next year's draft class. It is unlikely that he will play on both sides of the ball at the professional level, but Hunter and coach Deion Sanders are adamant that he has the rare ability to do so.


Hunter’s season was cut short in 2023, but in only nine games he recorded 721 yards receiving on 57 receptions, averaged 12.6 yards per catch, and caught five touchdowns. On defense, he finished with 22 solo tackles(30 total), two tackles for loss, five pass deflections, and two interceptions.


It’s unclear where teams at the next level view Hunter or even where he would prefer to play if he is not allowed to play both sides of the ball. So the question lingers. Hunter has the talent to play either way and, in his mind, both. Heading into what is probably his final college season, Hunter must make a decision, right? We will have to wait and see.


Cornerback Overview


Travis Hunter INTs vs. UCLA


Strengths: In zone-coverage concepts, Travis Hunter shows rare instincts to put himself in a position to make plays on the ball. He shows a superb understanding of getting depth and pass-off zone responsibilities. He also has a knack for baiting/anticipating routes and shows a feel for where a play is going. Hunter has the outstanding ball skills to create turnovers. His sure hands and tracking ability as a receiver allow him to create turnovers at a high level; he can make a bid for a house call anytime he gets the ball.


Hunter’s instincts as a defensive back flash in man coverage. In off and bail coverage, he shows quality route recognition to anticipate leverage at breakpoints and consistently stay on the opponent's hip. Aside from evident instincts, Hunter is a fantastic athlete with very fluid hips to turn and run. He is able to plant and easily flip his hips when mirroring in man. In man or zone coverage, Hunter’s transition quickness is explosive, a major reason he is able to make plays on the ball and create turnovers.


Weaknesses: Although he is usually effective in man coverage, his aggressive ball-react instincts can get him into trouble. Hunter has the modern-day frame of a defensive back — a long corner with a wide wingspan. However, he has a frail overall build, and his slight frame may be a liability against bigger receivers. Hunter struggles against big-body receivers when challenged vertically and can lose leverage when tracking the ball. On 50/50 throws, he can get beat at the catch point against bigger opponents with strong hands. While in bail coverage, Hunter is very good at getting downhill and closing on underneath routes, but he can get lost when challenged vertically. He has difficulty protecting his blind spot and can lose leverage and allow his opponent to create space against him. Due to his slight frame, Hunter can get lost in run support. His overall willingness to get downhill is inconsistent, and his lack of physical strength can make it difficult to disengage from blockers as well as secure tackles vs. physical runners.


Receiver Overview


Travis Hunter vs. Nebraska


Strengths: On defense, your number one rule should be not to let Hunter get free in open space because he can break ankles with his moves and make defenders look silly. Hunter is extremely twitchy in space, with remarkable stop-start quickness when changing direction. It is frustrating to try to bring him down in space after a catch. In addition to that elusiveness, Hunter has the true home-run speed to take a slant 80 if he gets a seam. Hunter has a burst of acceleration that both beats you vertically or makes a big play on a drag or bubble screen.


Hunter’s smooth release off the LOS has little wasted motion, and he showcases a quality single move to get upfield and into his route against off/bail coverage. His blink-quick separation allows him to toy with defenders at the top of his routes, to freeze DBs or put them on their heels. He has quick stair-steps to lock up defenders at breakpoints. Hunter’s sure hands are always a plus. He does well extending his arms to make catches with those hands instead of his body. He creates a spatial and timing advantage when he reaches to catch with his hands.


Weaknesses: Although he is generally a good route runner, Hunter could improve his initial stem off LOS. He often relies on his quickness to get a step on the opponent rather than stemming and creating leverage offline to set up his release. When stretching the field vertically, Hunter can make big plays on an accurate ball from his quarterback. However, his poor effort when adjusting to underthrown passes does not help out his quarterback. Hunter’s thin frame can limit him as a blocker on the perimeter, where he lacks the physical strength to sustain blocks against aggressive corners in run support. He shows inconsistent effort as a run blocker, when he tends to watch plays if the action is away from him.


Final Thoughts: What Travis Hunter is already doing is nothing short of amazing and groundbreaking. He shows a remarkable ability to play at a high level on both sides of the ball.

Honestly, Hunter has a bright future at either cornerback or wide receiver. It comes down to what position he prefers/enjoys most, and then putting in the work to polish up his technique and IQ.


As a cornerback at the next level, Hunter can be a No. 1 outside coverage player for any team. His athletic ability and instincts make him a dangerous ball hawk. In terms of playing corner at the next level, Hunter’s skill set seems to translate best to a Cover-3 zone-based scheme, where his ability to mirror and anticipate throws would be a natural fit.


Hunter can be a transcendent talent as a receiver, too. His combination of size, speed and escapability after the catch is rare, even at the NFL level. His speed allows him to stretch the field and draw extra safety attention — aka take the top off. This naturally opens up underneath routes, freeing teammates to roam in the perforations he creates. At 6-1 with a wide wingspan, Hunter can play above the rim and make splash plays downfield or in traffic. After the catch, Hunter has the ability to embarrass defenders, which can get inside their heads as he gets into their end zone.


The 2024 season will be a big year for Travis Hunter, who must either excel at one position over the other or prove what he and coach Sanders say: He can play both ways. We have seldom seen — and certainly not for decades — a player sustain consistency and dominance on both sides of the ball in the pros as Hunter has done in college. Let’s see what happens.


Justyn Gorden

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