Kendall Hunter arrived at Oklahoma State in the summer of 2007 as a three-star recruit overshadowed by higher-ranked players like Dez Bryant, William Cole, Damian Davis, Jared Glover and Adrian Moore. While he was the only true running back signed by head coach Mike Gundy in the Class of 2007, more attention was given to Moore, who was projected as a running back after gaining 2,272 rushing yards and scoring 27 touchdowns as a quarterback at White Hall High School in Pine Bluff, Ark.
As all Oklahoma State fans know, Bryant became one of the best receivers to ever wear the orange and black uniform and took his game to the NFL after just three years at OSU. Meanwhile, Cole, Davis and Moore – all four-star recruits who recruiting followers fell in love with – are no longer Cowboys, and a back injury forced Glover to give up the game.
Hunter, however, has become more than an afterthought, as he was when that 2007 recruiting class was signed. He was overlooked by programs like Texas, LSU and Oklahoma despite breaking Pro Football Hall of Famer and Heisman Trophy winner Earl Campbell’s career rushing record at John Tyler High School. Now the 5-8, 197-pound little engine that could is making Oklahoma State history as his college playing career winds down.
When Hunter takes off his No. 24 jersey for the final time following Oklahoma State’s bowl game, he will have left his mark on the program like another unheralded recruit did more than 20 years ago. Although no one is comparing Hunter to 1988 Heisman Trophy winner Barry Sanders, the player nicknamed “Spud” by his teammates will leave a lasting legacy before taking his game to the National Football League.
The former John Tyler High School Lion will be remembered as one of the best running backs to ever play at Oklahoma State, joining the likes of Sanders, Thurman Thomas, Terry Miller, David Thompson and Ernest Anderson. He passed Sanders, who played only three seasons at OSU before becoming the third overall draft choice in the 1989 NFL Draft, on the school’s career rushing chart midway through his senior season.
He will finish his Cowboy playing career in the top four in career rushing yards, top four in career rushing touchdowns, and top 10 in career scoring.
Not bad for a high school player who the University of Texas looked at but decided was too short to play for the Longhorns. Do you think Mack Brown would like to have him now?
The soft-spoken Hunter has been as elusive with the media the past four years as he was for the safeties from Nebraska this season when he rushed for 201 yards and two touchdowns against the Cornhuskers. He doesn’t mind talking to the media, it’s just he never has much to say, and he has always been that way (see former John Tyler head football coach Thomas Brooks’ comments later in this story).
Thus, Go Pokes Magazine went to some of those who know Hunter best to give us insight into what makes him the football player he is, what drives him to succeed, and what they’ll remember most about him as his college football career comes to an end. Here, for the first time, those who saw the talent in Hunter before he even dreamed of playing at Oklahoma State, those closest to him and know him best during his remarkable playing career for the Cowboys, and some of his teammates the last four years, tell his story in their own words.
Thomas Brooks was head football coach at John Tyler High School in Tyler, Texas during Hunter’s junior and senior seasons (2005-2006): He’d just completed his sophomore season when I got to John Tyler, and he’d rushed for 1,000 yards that year. They won two games that year. The first thing I heard was that there was a bright spot, and his name was Kendall Hunter. Usually after a 2-8 year there are not very many bright spots, but Kendall is the first thing everyone wanted to talk to me about when I got hired. That was exciting because he was somebody we could build the team around.
Harold Wilson, sports writer for the Tyler (Texas) Telegraph newspaper who covered John Tyler High School football during Hunter’s three years at the school: There was a little bit of a buzz going around town when he was a freshman. They were in a down cycle, and the only good thing that was going was the freshman football team. They were getting more attention than the varsity because the varsity was struggling for the first time in a long time. They were kind of waiting for him to get on the varsity. I’ve never seen a buzz about an offensive player like that since I’ve been covering them. He was always quiet, but he always seemed to know about the history (of John Tyler football), and he was going to do his part to get them back there. His sophomore year he was pretty much the whole offense. He rushed for 1,000 yards, and it had been a while since somebody had done that.
Keeath Magee, former John Tyler High School running backs coach/co-offensive coordinator, won’t forget the first time he saw Hunter after being hired by Thomas Brooks: I remember meeting him the spring the new staff came in (to John Tyler), and the guys on the staff were saying, you’ve got to see the kid that you’re going to be coaching, he’s going to be better than (Earl) Campbell, he rushed for over 1,000 yards as a sophomore, and played defensive back, and was district newcomer of the year. We’re standing in the weight room and I’m looking as kids come in, and we were loaded with talent that year, but I’m looking for this 6-1 or 6-2, 220-pound kid. Is that him? No. Is that him? No. Is that him? No. So I ask one of the assistant coaches, ‘Guys, if the guys I’m looking at aren’t him, then who is he?’ He said, ‘See that kid back there in the back?’ “On the power clean platform?’ ‘Yeah, that’s him.’ I’m thinking to myself, there’s no way. But the next day we were on the outside stations and doing agility drills and I watch him go through the ropes, and I see how quick his feet are and I’ve never seen anything like that before in my life as a player or as a coach.
Thomas Brooks: He broke his ankle against Mesquite in our first district ballgame (of his junior season). We were 4-1 and doing good, and he went down right before halftime. He was laying on the ground, and it was all the way broken. Then when they put him in the ambulance he called me over and I went over and he said, ‘Coach, ask them to win the ballgame for me.’ Sure enough we went on to win the ballgame, and that was the first district win in about three years. We ended up going to the playoffs (and lost to Garland, 28-25, in the first round), and we thought about how far we could have gone if we had Kendall. It was real tough on him because he was the key to our offense and knowing he couldn’t be out there was real tough on him. I could see the pain he was having, and it wasn’t because of the ankle but because he wasn’t out there. That’s the kind of guy he is. We know if we’d had him we could have gone a lot farther.
Harold Wilson: They were on the goal line, the 3- or 4-yard line, and the play was over. The guy held onto his ankle, and you could see that his momentum was still going forward, and he tried to get out of it. You knew it was bad because the kid never showed any emotion, but he took his helmet and threw it, and it probably rolled 10 or 15 yards. I knew then that this was bad. The head coach went out there, and he got emotional. It’s really one of the few high school injuries that I remember. It was one of those deals where everyone was like, ‘Wow. What do we do now?’
Thomas Brooks: He got injured (shoulder bruise) in a game (his senior season), and he went back out there and finished. But in practice I was going to hold him out. I told him one day that he couldn’t practice, and it almost killed him. He said, ‘I can’t practice?’ I said, ‘No, you can’t Kendall.’ I made sure he didn’t have any pads on, I took his helmet away from him because I knew ... usually I tell kids to go out there with their T-shirt and helmet but I didn’t want him to have anything because I knew he’d be out there trying to do something. I knew what he could do in a game. I didn’t need him out there at practice and taking a chance on getting hurt worse or reinjuring it. I told him just to hold on. I mean tears started coming out of his eyes. He just started crying and the rest of the guys came to me and said, ‘Coach, Kendall is really hurting.’ I went over to him and told him to go get his equipment on. He was so excited. He sprinted over there and came back and practiced.
Harold Wilson: As a senior they were playing against Kilgore, they were the defending state champs, and Eddie Jones, now at Texas. They had a mano-against-mano matchup that night. Kendall broke three long runs that game. It was his 17th birthday that night. I remember that because I did a story on him the next week, and he was talking about it being his birthday. Eddie Jones was a big-time defensive end, and he broke some long runs and you kind of knew then that he was going to be special. That was kind of his coming-of-age party.
Thomas Brooks: Kendall was the best player on the team and the hardest working. You never had to tell him to get in the weight room. In the summer he was there every day that the weight room was open. You know you are going to have some success when your best player is your hardest worker, and that was him. He always lived by example. He’s not going to say much, he’s not going to get on people for not working hard, but he’s going to show them by what he does. That’s how he showed his leadership. They couldn’t say, ‘Well, you let Kendall do this.’ They couldn’t say that because Kendall was going to be out there working.
Keeath Magee: I think the biggest thing I remember about him has very little to do with his athleticism and everything to do with who he is as a person. He’s a great kid. He was a great character kid who loved the game and was always ready to work no matter what the situation. He always had a smile on his face.
Thomas Brooks: One time I told him, ‘Kendall, I’m going to get on you for something. You just go along with it, OK?’ Because (his teammates) had never heard me yelling at him because I never had a reason to ever do it. He said, ‘What?’ I said, ‘I’m going to yell at you in front of everybody, but just go along with it, OK?’ He said, ‘OK.’ So we were practicing and I went off on him. I yelled, ‘Kendall, you know you can’t do that.’ Everybody just froze, including my assistant coaches who were shocked because they didn’t know what I was doing. He just looked at me in the eyes and just nodded his head and went back to the huddle. The kid that he was blocking said, ‘Coach, don’t make him go any harder than that.’ I just had to get on him for something because I’d never had to do it. It was really kind of hard for me to do too. But he didn’t mind it. That’s the type of kid he is. Kendall is just going to do what he has to do. He was such a joy to coach. I miss him to this day. He was such a joy.
Mike Gundy made the trip to Tyler, Texas in the spring of 2006 to watch John Tyler’s spring game with Cowboy offensive line coach Joe Wickline, who had been raving about the running back: Joe had been talking about him for a while, and we went down to see him during the spring evaluation period when coaches could still go out (NCAA rules prohibit them from doing so now). We were at the stadium, and it started to rain. We couldn’t get around to go to the other side of the stadium which was covered, so we cut through (one end of the field). The were scrimmaging on the other end, and we went down to cut across the end zone to go over to where there was some shelter. When we were cutting across the field they ran a play, and I was standing in the middle of the field on ground level when they handed the ball off to him, and he ran through there and it looked just like those other guys that played here. It looked like (Dantrell) Savage, it looked like Thurman (Thomas), it looked like Gerald Hudson ... all of those guys. I said, ‘Are you kidding me?’ Wick said, ‘That’s the guy I’ve been telling you about.’ I said, ‘Well we can go eat because there’s no use hanging around here.’ He said there was a good Mexican place in Tyler, and that’s where we went.
Thomas Brooks: He did leave early. I was nervous because I thought maybe he wasn’t interested, but I think the next day or a few days later they called and offered him a scholarship.
Keeath Magee: On the field, my word that I’ve used for the last five years since coaching him, is phenomenal. He’s able to do things that not a lot of people are able to do. I remember when we were there we joked around about how he’s a lot like Barry Sanders. When we first started talking about it we had no idea he would end up at Oklahoma State. His ability to run, his power, his ability to make people miss, the cuts he could make, his vision, his ability to accelerate... it was phenomenal.
Mike Gundy: It’s hard to really predict (that he’d be one of only five backs in school history to have two 1,000-yard seasons) but when I saw him make those cuts at ground level that day, I told Wick, ‘We’ve got to take him.’ I knew he was pretty special. We’d already seen him on tape, and you can tell a lot on tape. He played at a big school in Texas and played against some good guys, so we felt like he was pretty good. But when I saw him on ground level, I thought he had a real chance. But then the X-factor is when he comes in here how tough he is. How tough are you? Are you just a guy that every time you get hit you’re out for four plays or are you a guy that can take the punishment. He’s a guy that takes it. He’s taken some good hits this year.
Harold Wilson has seen about 25 John Tyler players receive major college football scholarships in the last decade and ranks Hunter among the best to ever play for the Lions: He’s the best offensive player definitely. Offensively, I can’t even compare him to anybody. That’s the thing, they’ve never had a running back like him. They’ve always done it by system but he stood out at a school that’s really not used to that. Earl Campbell did it because Earl Campbell was Earl Campbell ... you can’t even put anybody in the same sentence as Earl Campbell around here, but with him you can make room in the sentence. I guess you can make it a run-on sentence. He’s number two, I would think. As far as overall players that I’ve covered, he’s the best.
Keeath Magee remembers the night that Hunter broke Campbell’s career rushing record at John Tyler High School: Football at John Tyler is a cultural cult. It was a remarkable two years of my life. Everybody was just ecstatic (when he broke the record). I will never forget when it happened. We were playing at Mesquite’s Hanby Stadium, and the night that he broke the record was special. He broke the record and you never would have known it. He breaks the record on an inside draw and he makes a cut to make a guy miss and it ends up being a 15- or 20-yard run or so to break the record. He jumps up, and the (other) kids are high-fiving (with him). We took him out and he jogs over to the sideline, pulls his helmet off and has this look of, it’s no big deal. Are we winning? That’s the most important thing, are we winning? I remember a lot of people being very ecstatic and very happy that he broke the record, and a lot of us were very happy and glad that we happened to be there to be a part of it and see it happen. I don’t know if in this lifetime at John Tyler High School anybody will come behind him to do what he’s done.
Thomas Brooks says there is only one reason that schools like Texas, LSU and Oklahoma didn’t recruit the standout running back: His height. He’s not very tall, and that was the only reason. That’s why I was glad that coach Gundy came and watched our spring game and offered him. Kendall was so excited about that, and that’s when I knew that’s where he wanted to go.
Harold Wilson: His name comes up (in Tyler) more than anybody from that group (he played with). I think part of that is because everybody still feels like they know him. He still comes home. He’s kind of like a regular guy. There are other guys that went on and they’ve gotten away from here, and they develop their own way. He still seems like a Tyler guy. People see him around here. They know when he’s coming home, and people see him when he comes home. He’s still pretty connected to Tyler.
Thomas Brooks said that Hunter originally committed to TCU but switched to Oklahoma State when Wickline called with the offer: They were upset. They really wanted him and came after him hard. They were the first ones to really offer him a scholarship. But I could tell because he kept talking about Oklahoma State ... Coach (Joe) Wickline would come in all the time, and we invited coach Gundy to the spring game. After that, that was it.
Keeath Magee: I’ll tell you this, Ken Rucker, who is now the director of recruiting at the University of Texas, was coaching running backs (at the time Hunter was playing at John Tyler High), and Ken was on campus because they’d heard about him. I told him, ‘Ken, I’ve been around great athletes. I had an all-state running back in Mississippi when I coached there before I moved to Texas, and we had some pretty good athletes when I was at Temple (High School). Ken, I’m going to be honest with you. Somebody in the Big 12 is not going to pull the trigger on Kendall Hunter because of his size, because he’s short. But somebody else in the Big 12 is going to make a decision to take him, and when they do he’s going to make everybody in the Big 12 that didn’t take him and didn’t take a look at him, regret that they didn’t.’ Since Kendall’s been at Oklahoma State, even with his injury (last season), you’d be hard pressed to find a running back in the Big 12 that has had the success that he’s had. I told Ken that day that so many people get caught up in height and size and stature, but the thing about Kendall Hunter that you can’t measure is what’s in his chest that’s beating every day. He has the ability to begin in, and simply because he’s 5-8 everybody is saying he’s too short. What he’s got pounding inside of his chest and the character of that kid will make up for his height and his shortcomings, and he’s going to be a great running back. He proved it.
OSU senior Bryant Ward has been Hunter’s teammate for the past four seasons: Kendall is a great guy. Most people say he’s quiet but once you’re around him for so long, and we’re a tight running back group ... he’s quiet most of the time, but he talks to us. He’s a good guy and a hard worker.
Thomas Brooks: If you’ve ever spoken to him you probably know he doesn’t talk very much. His friends would tell me, ‘coach, he talks all the time.’ But I guess around adults and people he doesn’t know he’s very quiet. At first I didn’t think he liked me but I found that not to be true because he reacted to all of us, even the coaches who had been there in the past, that way. So, I didn’t take it too personal after I learned that. I went up to talk to him (the first time) and thought I was going to have a big conversation with him but it didn’t last very long.
Dantrell Savage, the former Cowboy running back who befriended Hunter when he showed up as a freshman: Kendall stays to himself. If you’re not his roommate or been his friend forever, he’s going to talk to you in the locker room and be cool with you and that’s about it. He’s not against anybody, that’s just his personality. That’s just him. To me, that’s the best way to be.
Terry Henley, the academic counselor who works directly with OSU football players: He doesn’t want to stand out, and coming from where he did, and he grew up kind of rough, there’s that trust factor. He and I had a conversation about this a couple of years ago where I had to tell him that his attitude, which isn’t a bad thing to have and more athletes should, he’s always thinking, why are they asking this and what’s beneath the surface of this question? You see professional athletes struggle with this. It’s not so much here because the media isn’t trying to provoke you. It’s a quality that will help him if he makes it at the next level when you’re dealing with media that ask a question but under the surface they are trying to provoke a certain response. They have certain agendas other than just the basic question that is being asked, and I think that is probably one of the reasons that he’s kind of shied away from being more media friendly. He’s not oppositional, it’s just not something he’s real comfortable with doing because I’m sure it wasn’t asked out of him coming out of Tyler.
Bryant Ward, one of the best blocking fullbacks in the nation, is responsible for many of the yards Hunter has gained over the past four seasons: He’s always laughing. It’s kind of hard for me to understand why sometimes because he’s always mumbling, and he uses the excuses that he’s from the country.
Dantrell Savage: He’s laughing and giggling all the time. He has that type of laugh that you know who it is. If he’s around the corner and you hear him laughing, you just know it’s him. It’s like the Joker. The way (Kendall) laughs, you just know it’s him. You can hear him laughing or giggling and know it’s him from a mile away.
Terry Henley: He’s got a great personality, a great sense of humor. He doesn’t show that side to a lot of people and keeps things pretty close to the vest. But when he’s over here (in the academic center) he pretty much opens up. He’s just a great personality.
Levy Adcock, starting right offensive right tackle for the Cowboys: Everybody messes around with him in the locker room. He’s a good sport. He gives it back too. He’ll throw all your clothes outside your locker when you’re in the shower, and he’ll launch your clothes and you’ll have to walk all the way over there to pick them up. It’s just stuff like that. It’s funny.
Bill Young, who is finishing up his 34th year as a college coach and was the defensive coordinator at Ohio State, Oklahoma, USC, and Miami (Fla.) before returning to his alma mater in 2009, has seen his share of talented running backs over the years: I don’t like comparing players. I’ve coached two or three Heisman Trophy winners. When you start comparing people you end up hurting someone else’s feelings. But I remember being back here with Terry Miller, who was the runner-up to the Heisman Trophy (in 1977), and he’s very similar to him in that he has the strength to break the tackle, and he has the ability to make people miss.
Dana Holgorsen, the Cowboys first-year offensive coordinator who coached at Texas Tech 2000-2007: We had three or four all-conference guys at (Texas) Tech ... Ricky Williams (the All-Big 12 running back from Tech in 2001) was actually up here about a week ago, and he met Kendall. They’re about the same size. I think Kendall, just based on what he’s accomplished and the consistency of what he’s done, has got to be considered one of the better ones that I’ve ever been around.
Mike Gundy was as concerned as many Cowboy fans when he hired Holgorsen as offensive coordinator last January: I think there are a lot of people that thought if he rushed for 500 yards when we brought in Dana that he’d have a good year. Before we started I got barraged with (questions), ‘What are you going to do with Kendall Hunter? What are you going to do with Kendall Hunter? What are you doing to do with Kendall Hunter?’ So, I just asked Dana one day, ‘What are we going to do with Kendall Hunter?’ He said, ‘I’ve already watched him run. You don’t have to worry about Kendall Hunter (getting the ball).’ I took his word for it.
Terry Henley: He’s on track to graduate in the spring which is great for a guy like him that didn’t have a real strong academic background. I remember when coach Wickline was recruiting him, I remember Wick coming into my office and saying, ‘I think we’re going to get this running back out of Tyler. A lot of people kind of looked over him, he got hurt (his senior season), and he doesn’t have the best academic pedigree.’ But I remember Wick saying, ‘Trust me, you will not have to worry about his work ethic. He’s the type of kid who’s going to do everything you say.’ Everything that Wick told me that day was exactly what we saw from the moment he walked on campus. I cannot think of anyone that I’ve ever heard say anything negative about Kendall. He’s also good about whenever any of the other players have issues going on and they need to talk to him, he doesn’t hesitate to do that and give his opinion or share things that are going on with him.
Mike Gundy and the Cowboys played most of the 2009 season without Hunter, who suffered an ankle injury in the second game, missed five complete games, and finished the year with just 382 rushing yards on 89 carries: I didn’t doubt his toughness. I doubted the track part of him, where the ankle just didn’t feel right and he didn’t feel comfortable playing. I knew he was tough because he’d been here long enough. I was getting concerned that he was worrying about his ankle so much that he never was going to get over, (and realize) I’ve got to go play the game again. That’s why I was glad to see him start fast this year.
Kendall is probably one of the hardest working young men I’ve been around. I’ve been in this position for 10 years and I’ve worked with a plethora of student-athletes that have come through this football program and I would put him in the top two or three as far as work ethic. I compare him almost in attitude to a kid that is a walk-on, even as great of an athlete as he is and player. He is very humble, very self-effacing, and he respects authority.
Keeath Magee: Never once do you ever see him say, look at me. That’s what’s great about him because in this day and age where so many people draw attention to themselves, he is the ultimate team player.
Bill Young: We coach against him (every day in practice) so I get to see him all the time. This offense is tailor-made for him because they spread you out and he hits the seam, and then it’s him one-on-one with the linebacker or the secondary guy, and you’re not going to get him down very often.
Bryant Ward: Once I see him break through the first line I’m confident that he has a good chance of breaking it for several yards.
Josh Cooper, Cowboy wide receiver, who enjoys watching Hunter put a move on a helpless cornerback or safety trying to make the tackle: It’s Kendall’s job to make people miss and he’s darn good at it. Yeah, I feel sorry for them.
Levy Adcock: I love it. I already know he’s going to win that matchup. There’s nobody who can tackle him in the open field by himself.
Dana Holgorsen: The thing about it is if he doesn’t hit the hole and doesn’t get the first down or the first guy there tackles him, it’s like what’s wrong, what’s wrong? Because you’re used to him making these plays so many times but in reality if you hand it to a guy 25 times he’s going to get tackled. He’s just been a model of consistency. He’s a great kid who practices hard. He may not score every time we hand him the ball but he’s consistently turning out 150 yards, which is pretty good. There are obviously a few good backs out there but he has to be considered one of the better ones.
Dantrell Savage: We know where one another came from. He’s from Texas and I’m from Georgia but we kind of have somewhat the same background, the same struggle in life in trying to make it. We have to prove to people that as far as our height and size and our ability that we’re basically better than the average or big-sized running back. We have the same type of personality and just seemed to click together. We’re both kind of laid-back guys. I call him my little brother. They used to call him Little Savage.
Bryant Ward: He makes me look good sometimes. I don’t have to do my best job, although I always try to but if I mess up or something he usually over-corrects and makes me look better. I like that part of it.
Grant Garner, starting center for the Cowboys this season: (His experience) helps us so much. I don’t think we can even realize how much it helps us because all you need to do is give him a little space and he’ll make it right. It’s extremely easy (to block for him). All you’ve got to do is get in front of your guy and he’ll make it right. It’s a lot of fun. He makes plays that you never thought would happen. He really helps us out a lot in tough situations.
Josh Cooper: He makes you right, I’ll say that. Even if you don’t do great on a block and just get a piece of them, he’ll make you right. He makes a lot of guys miss.
Levy Adcock: It’s easy. He gets through the smallest holes. You don’t have to be the best offensive line to block for him.
Mike Gundy on Hunter’s chances to play in the NFL: He’ll get an opportunity based on a team that uses a guy like that. He falls into that (Darren) Sproles category. If you’re a top-five running back, you’re usually gone by the second round.
Bill Young: I think the NFL will love having a guy like him because even though he’s not very tall, he’s wound tight. He’s a thick guy and he’s very, very strong.
Bryant Ward: I think he’ll be real successful. He has a great work ethic. If he stays healthy, you know you can’t really predict that, but if he stays healthy, he’ll do really well.
They’re trying to figure out where to put him on the draft board, whether it’s as a third-down situation (back) or a running back. I’m like, it’s a whole lot easier to turn and hand it to him than it is to chuck it out there to him. He’s a running back. You want to hand him the ball. He’s got enough versatility to where he can pass protect and catch the ball in the flat.
Terry Henley: I’ll be shocked if he’s not one of those pro players that ends up playing seven or eight years, or however long it is because running backs don’t tend to last as long. Because he’s professional in how he approaches everything and has a grasp of the big picture, knows that football can’t be his only route to success. He’s similar to Russell (Okung) in that a big reason that he wants to make it in the NFL is less about what he can get himself but more how he can help out his family.
Keeath Magee: There are going to be some people in the NFL who are going to overlook Kendall Hunter because of his size. But somebody in the NFL on draft day is going to give that kid an opportunity, and when they do it’s going to be like hitting the lottery. I guarantee it. I know enough about Kendall.
Dantrell Savage: His life story is a little bit different. He has two kids already. I feel I was put in his life to keep him strong and keep motivating him and not worry about little things. Kendall’s future holds what he makes out of it. From his personality and his experience in life from growing up in Tyler and then coming to Oklahoma State and having the background he has and having basically his kids, his mother and everybody that he takes in and supports, supporting them mentally and physically, to be a 23-year-old, he’s already a grown man. That right there tells me that he’s going to be a great professional player. He has gone through a lot of adversity in life. He’s going to be very successful, and I’m going to make sure he is. I’m definitely going to keep pushing him.
Levy Adcock: I think he’ll be great. I hope he’s great. He’s a good guy.
Bryant Ward on what he’ll remember about playing with Hunter: Probably more off the field stuff, just joking around and getting to know him. In the locker room we’re always joking around and doing stuff. That’s probably what I’ll remember the most when we both come back and haven’t seen each other in a while.
Josh Cooper: Honestly, there are too many (great runs to remember). He busts it out and makes a guy miss and takes it 40 or 50 yards. There are too many to remember.
Grant Garner: Kendall is a great player, and we’ve got really great players behind him, but there’s not another Kendall Hunter here or anywhere else in the nation.
Terry Henley: When he and I have a conversation, some of these guys when I have a conversation with them I know that if I tell them 10 things I’ll be lucky if one and a half stick. Not only will all 10 things stick with him but he’s asking me about the 11th thing. I tell the (NFL) scouts this when I talk to them about him, he’ll be one to gravitate to people who will help him and he will actually listen. He’ll put himself around people that he trusts, that he knows know more than he does about issues, and he’ll listen, which a lot of young people today don’t do. That’s why this team has such good chemistry because the stars like him are not divas. If Kendall’s not missing tutors, then why is Joseph Randle going to miss them? Joseph and Jeremy (Smith) see Kendall over here (in the academic center) every single day, so why shouldn’t they be over here when the dude who has a chance to get drafted early makes it a priority?
Keeath Magee: We talked when he was a sophomore and I asked him, ‘Kendall, what is it that you want to do? What are your goals?’ He said, ‘coach, I want to graduate high school, I want to go to college and play college football, and I want to play in the NFL.’ I asked him, ‘How are you going to get there? Do you know what you’re going to do to get there?’ He said, ‘work.’ I told him ‘Kendall, do you realize there’s a lot more than just work? I’ll tell you right row, I’ve been around you long enough to know, that the love and passion that you have and the work ethic you have will get you there.’ Now, he’s close. He’s one of the top five running backs in the country. He’s proven, even sitting out with the injury last year, that he can get the job done.