KNOXVILLE - With more than a month to spare before Halloween, Tennessee sophomore wide receiver Justin Hunter is doing his best to scare people.
But he’s not using a costume. He’s displaying potential, instead. Hunter put on a dazzling performance in UT’s season-opener against Montana with career-highs of six receptions and 146 yards, while finding the end zone once.
“I think Justin (Hunter) is maturing at a fast pace,” wide receivers coach Charlie Baggett said. “I can say that his improvement from the end of last year to the present is tremendous. If he continues to improve, the sky is the limit for him. I’m very excited about what he can do and what he could be.
“The good thing about him is that he listens and he studies the game. He’s going to get better and that is exciting for me. The more he lifts and the more he is around the weight room and good eating habits, he’s going to get stronger and bigger. That’s scary to think about.”
Baggett, who has coached the likes of Randy Moss and Cris Carter, is cautiously optimistic about Hunter’s future.
“I think his capacity is unlimited, I really do,” Baggett said. “I hate to get too excited about young guys too early, but he is a guy that really excites me. I think he can handle a lot. He has played a lot of ball, but if you look at him he is really young. He is a sophomore, coming off a freshman season. I’m excited about the fact that we can give him more, we move him in the slot, put him outside, put him in the one-receiver set. He can do a lot of things.”
The owner of UT’s freshman-record of seven touchdowns, Hunter’s ability to play at any receiver position has made him invaluable to the offense.
“He’s fast, he’s long and he’s really worked hard at becoming a complete wide receiver,” head coach Derek Dooley said. “He blocks. We’ve started moving him around, putting him in the slot, putting him at Z and putting him at X. He’s shown an ability to make plays at all those positions. We’re going to keep trying to feature him as long as he keeps giving us production back. He has the chance to be a really good one.”