Monday, February 13, 2012
Offseason spotlight: Tennessee
By ESPN.com staff
Our offseason spotlight today shifts to the Tennessee Vols.
Spotlight: Receiver Justin Hunter, 6-foot-4, 200 pounds, rising junior
2011 summary: Hunter was leading the SEC in receptions and receiving yards before tearing the ACL in his left knee the third week of the season against Florida. He finished with 17 catches for 314 yards and two touchdowns and averaged 18.5 yards per catch.
The skinny: When the Vols were firing on all cylinders last season with Hunter on one side, Da'Rick Rogers on the other and a healthy Tyler Bray at quarterback, they were hard to stop. Getting Hunter back and getting him back at 100 percent will be critical to the Vols' success in 2012. He's making good progress and running some, although he won't have any contact during spring practice. The plan is to have him back and ready to go for summer workouts. Hunter needed to get stronger in his upper body anyway, which is something he can dive into this offseason. Having him on the field makes everybody better because he opens up so many things with his ability to make big plays down the field and then use his incredible leaping ability to go up and get the ball over just about any defensive back. Hunter's also one of the Vols' players that needs to take on more of a leadership role. Now that he's entering his third season in the program, he'll probably be more willing to do that. His No. 1 goal, though, over these next five or six months is making sure he's back to the old No. 11 physically when the Vols kick it off Sept. 1 against North Carolina State.