Mike Briggs recognized the
talent Torrance Hunt was blessed with more than six years ago. It was
hard to miss.
Hunt was one of many stars
between 1997 and 2002 for the Durham Eagles, a prestigious youth
football program that in 2003 fielded a national championship squad in
the Junior Pee Wee Division of the Pop Warner organization.
“We saw a lot of potential
there, especially with his speed,’’ said Briggs, the head coach at
Durham’s Jordan High School. “By the time he got to us in the ninth
grade he was the fastest kid in our program.’’
Hunt has parlayed his
incredible speed, which was measured at 4.25 seconds earlier this year
in the 40-yard dash, into an opportunity to play football for the East
Carolina Pirates. The 5-foot-7, 170-pounder became the third player to
make a verbal commitment to ECU last Sunday, one week after receiving a
scholarship offer following a workout at the Pirates' summer camp.
East Carolina was the
first school to extend a scholarship offer to Hunt, but he was also
receiving interest from schools like North Carolina and N.C. State.
All those suitors were no
doubt intrigued by Hunt’s raw speed, which was first noticed on a wide
scale in April.
Even though Hunt was a
varsity starter and earned All-Pac-6 4-A Conference honors at defensive
back (71 tackles, 6 interceptions, 14 pass breakups) for Jordan last
season, he wasn’t well known in recruiting circles. He spent his first
two seasons maturing physically with the Jordan junior varsity, so
college coaches had a limited amount of time to scout and evaluate Hunt.
“I wouldn’t say he was off
the (recruiting) radar,’’ Briggs said. “A lot of teams said they liked
what they saw of him on film. But after what he did at the combine, the
interest in him shot through the roof.’’
Flash forward to late
April and M&T Banks Stadium in Baltimore. Hunt is lined up to be timed
in the 40-yard dash, a standard procedure at the various Nike Combines
where top recruits annually strut their stuff for reporters from the
Rivals.com web network.
Hunt was electronically
timed in 4.3 seconds. The sprint was so fast that the combine organizers
asked Hunt to run again to be sure his first clocking was accurate.
This time, Hunt covered
the 40 yards in 4.29 seconds.
The camp instructors were
so in awe of that performance that they asked Hunt to return for one
more sprint – this time with video cameras rolling – after he’d
completed the other combine drills. Again, Hunt bettered his time,
hurling himself down the runway in 4.25 seconds.
“He got a lot of
recognition from that,’’ Briggs said. “The way the recruiting process
goes, once they (recruiters) get interested in a kid they invite them
down for a one-day camp. East Carolina was one of the first to contact
him after that combine and get him on campus.
“They worked him out and
liked what they saw. When he got back home that Sunday, they called and
offered him a scholarship.
“I think they sold him on
the program. He liked what he saw there and I think he just wanted to go
ahead and get the decision out of the way so he can concentrate on his
senior year and get his grades ready to graduate.’’
Although ECU was drawn to
Hunt because of his speed, that’s not his only asset, according to
Hunt has steadily
increased his strength and stamina over time, and has become fond of
“When we first got him, he
needed a lot of time in the weight room,’’ Briggs said. “He had the
speed, but he seemed to be injury prone. But he dedicated himself to
getting stronger, and I think that’s been one of the key things for him.
“Torrance is not only a
good athlete, he’s a pretty good football player, too. He’s not afraid
to play the game of football, even though he’s not very big.’’
Hunt played strictly at
cornerback for Jordan last season, but Briggs expects to use him in a
variety of places in 2008, including running back and as a kick
The Pirates have recruited
Hunt as a wide receiver-kick returner in hopes he’ll develop into
another Keith Stokes.
“From what I understand
they like him as a wide receiver and a kick returner,’’ Briggs said. “He
can catch passes and run the ball, too. Or he can wrap up a defender in
the secondary. He doesn’t get beat deep very much. If someone runs a
streak or a fly pattern, he’s going to stay on top of it.’’
Hunt is the third player
to make an oral commitment to the Pirates, and all three hail from North
Carolina. [View ECU's recruiting classes
year-by-year, including the Class of 2009.]