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Tracking the Stars of the Future

Football Recruiting Report
Wednesday, June 18, 2008

By Sammy Batten

THUMBNAILS:  2006  •  2007  •  2008  •  2009

ECU recruiting effort picks up speed

By Sammy Batten
All rights reserved.

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 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 Briggs.

Hunt has steadily increased his strength and stamina over time, and has become fond of contact.

“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 returner.

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.]

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06/18/2008 02:02:01 AM


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