TALLAHASSEE, Fl (Apr.4) – Chad Hunter is not hard to find on a football field. The redshirt-freshman receiver can be spotted easily with either his helmet on or off.
With his helmet off, the maroon dreadlocks are easy to spot from anywhere on the field. With his helmet on, he is easy to spot making amazing catches and scoring touchdowns. The former walk-on from Rickards High School has made his way to FAMU’s choice receiver. The Tallahassee Southside native proudly promotes the area where he grew up on Ridge road.
Head coach, Willie Simmons, sees Hunter as much more than a unique look. “Coming in watching Chad go through workouts, he was a guy that jumped out right away. We started our fourth quarter program going through drills and we noticed not just his quickness and explosiveness, but his work ethic. Once we started practicing, he has an extraordinary natural skill set. He can stick routes full speed, he really understands leverage, has really good hands and has a playmaker mentality about him,” Simmons said.
Hunter made his mark this past season. Playing sparingly at first, he quickly earned his way into playmaker status. At the beginning of last season, he was a possession-type receiver. Eventually, he became the “go-to” guy for quarterback Ryan Stanley.
He was the team’s second leading receiver, behind Brandon Norwood. He collected 574 yards on 31 catches for an impressive 18.5 yards each time he touched the ball. He scored 36 points on six touchdowns. None was more exciting that what most consider as the top play of the year.
The Rattlers were down against the Hampton Pirates. Backed up near their own goal line, the FAMU offense was stagnant. With a penalty, the team was backed down to its own nine-yard line, Stanley dropped back and unleashed a bomb that appeared aimed for Marcus Williams. Williams was double covered and he and both defensive backs went up for the ball. Seemingly out of nowhere, Hunter swooped in, took the ball from the crowd and scampered for the 91-yard touchdown.
Hunter is a very fun, but humble guy. “The way people tried to put everything on the coaches last year…it’s on us. For this season, I want to do better than I did last season. I want to stay consistent and have more yards and touchdowns and remain free of injuries,” Hunter said.
Receivers coach Jelani Barassa is impressed with Hunter in several ways. “I think Chad Hunter is going to be a big player for us on offense and possibly special teams as well. His work ethic was the first thing that jumped out at me. He has great character. He’s a former walk-on and earned himself a scholarship and he still has that same kind of drive about himself, that walk-on mentality. He goes hard every single day and that’s why he’s going to end up being a good player.” Barassa said.
Stanley likes the confidence he has that Hunter can get open and make tough catches when necessary. “He’s a real reliable guy. He topped a lot of people with his talent. He does a great job in one-on-one situations and he can account for when the ball is not thrown just right. I expect him to be one of the top guys in the conference this year,” Stanley said.
Hunter became one of the favorite targets of Stanley, as the two hooked up on several occasions as the team performed its best last season. An amazing over-the-shoulder touchdown on Savannah State silenced the home crowd in Savannah last season.
“More than liking Chad, I think his teammates respect him. That comes from them seeing the work he puts in on the field. When you have that, then you have a chance to lead. He’s a guy that doesn’t show up on lists for missing things, he’s always one of the first ones on the field and the last one to leave. Every rep he takes is a full speed rep. He’s a high energy guy, you hear him at practice and always competing. He gets a little chippy with the defensive backs sometimes, but that’s the intensity he brings to the position and it gives the offense life. That’s what you look for in a guy that will hopefully be a marquee player for us this year,” Simmons said.
Hunter will lead a receiver corps that returns Williams, Dock Lucky and Kevin Troutman. He is excited about the promise that the team’s new offense presents. The West Coast offense Simmons is known for is a dream for quarterbacks and receivers. "The team bought into the new scheme real fast. Everybody is moving on the ball and moving fast. It’s a fast practice, so you never sitting around, it’s always something to do. It feels good to have that confidence from the coach, but I don’t even look at it that way. I am a team player and I just do my assignment…and hold everybody accountable,” Hunter concluded.
The Rattlers will have another morning practice on Friday at 6 A.M. and a full contact scrimmage on Saturday at 5 P.M.