When Deion Sanders shocked the college football world by flipping No. 1 overall recruit Travis Hunter during the early signing period in December, most couldn’t fathom that an FCS school — let alone an HBCU — took the top player in the nation from a Power Five program.
What many failed to realize was Hunter is rare and he’s a lot like his head coach. The dynamic Hunter is a two-way star who plays cornerback on defense and wide receiver on offense, somewhat akin to what Sanders did throughout his illustrious career.
Hunter was downright electric on both sides of the football in high school, leading Collins Hill in the Atlanta suburb of Suwanee to the GEICO State Champions Bowl Series.
But since his arrival at Jackson State, under the tutelage of Pro Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders, Hunter’s honing his craft at cornerback.
In a March interview, Hunter talked about playing corner.
“I take a lot of pride in playing corner. You have to be really competitive to play corner, and I’m really competitive. I just play receiver because I know I can get open. I don’t think anyone can guard me at receiver.”
— Travis Hunter (@TravisHunterJr) December 19, 2021
Hunter is slated to start at corner for the defending SWAC champions this fall. And as for offense, Coach Prime will sprinkle him at times, but wants his star recruit to focus on being a shutdown corner.
Hunter Getting Coached By The Best Cover Corner To Ever Play
When Hunter flipped his long-standing commitment from Florida State, which happens to be Sanders’ alma mater, it was easy to infer that Hunter went the JSU route because he wants to be coached by the best.
In December, when he made the switch, Hunter raved about learning from the great Coach Prime.
“I look forward to working with the iconic Deion Sanders, and especially along with my fellow Tigers. Along with Coach Prime, they have made me feel like I’m already part of the team. Like I’m home. And I can’t wait to welcome the next class of top athletes into the family of HBCUs.”
Sanders Wants Hunter To Focus More On The Mental Aspect Of Playing Cornerback
To become a Hall of Famer at anything you have to be pretty darn good. Sanders was great at what he did on the gridiron. But he’ll be the first to tell you his work began in the classroom and film study.
That translated to the field and made his job much easier. We know he’s an athletic specimen with blazing 4.4 speed and elite ball skills, but that isn’t enough after high school. The college game requires a detailed understanding of technique and IQ.
And what is meant by IQ is understanding the tendencies and nuances of what the offense is trying to do pre-snap, and that makes it easier to defend post-snap.
Formation identification is vital and Sanders has been stressing that to the talented Hunter all spring. It’s a sudden change for a kid who’s always been the best athlete on the field and could overwhelm opponents with that alone. That won’t be the case in college, with receivers who also run 4.4s with comparable athleticism.
While the Tigers and new offensive coordinator Brett Bartolone will have some packages for Hunter on offense, the team needs him to be their top corner and lock down half of the field in the SWAC.
Having someone like Sanders, who’s done it at the highest level is a huge bonus. Hunter is more than capable of doing both, plus he’s extremely coachable and confident in his abilities. Hunter projects as a cornerback at the next level and Coach Prime is going to make sure he’s prepared.