Players to Watch in 2011: Tennessee WR Justin Hunter

Last year, Tennessee fans were strangely content with their 6-7 record.  A play here or there against LSU and UNC, and they could have easily been 8-5.  Then again, UT should have lost the UAB double-OT game, which would have put them at 5-8 and ineligible for a bowl.  The main thing concerning UT fans seemed to be the lack of Lane Kiffin pacing the sidelines (because anything is a step up from Kiffin).  However, Vol fans are not ones to accept mediocrity for long, and patience is a virtue that is lacking in Knoxville.  Second year Head Coach Derek Dooley needs to improve on that record, and fast.

Sophomore receiver Justin Hunter played sparingly last season.  Even in his limited role, he was still Tennessee’s best big play threat.  In his limited playing time he amassed 16 receptions for 415 yards and 7 touchdowns.  That is an average of 26 yards per reception, and scoring on 44% of touches.  Of Hunter’s 7 TDs, he scored on plays of 35, 38, 42, and 80 yards.  Besides playing football, Hunter is also a world-class track star.  He has the speed to beat opponents deep, but also the height (6’4″), length and jumping ability to be dangerous in the red zone as well.

This is no Photoshop, Hunter seriously out-jumped the defender by 3 feet.

This year Hunter is penciled in as a starter.  If he can produce over 400 yards and 7 TDs with only 16 receptions, one can only imagine the type of production he is capable over a complete season.  Justin is one of those physically gifted athletes that must be accounted for on every play.  His physical build and speed matched with Tyler Bray’s strong arm will force opponents to play their safeties deep, and simply being on the field will be instrumental in stretching the defense to open up underneath routes and holes for the running game.  To improve on last years record and appease the masses on Rocky Top, Coach Dooley will need big plays out of Justin Hunter.  Watch for him.

-Jeff

Like what you see?  Check out Tennessee’s defensive Player to Watch.               Malik Jackson.  Also, follow us on twitter @SEC_Dweller or like us on Facebook for updates.

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