Football comeback specialist Towson D’Ago Hunter would have been a superstar in basketball.
Just a few years ago, he scored 1,000 points as a starting point guard for Eastern View High School in Culpeper, Virginia, but he kept that achievement under wraps until Tigers coach Rob Ambrose recently blew his cover.
“I like to stay humble, but I’m a pretty good basketball athlete,” said Hunter, whose first name is pronounced Dee-A-go. “It was a good time. I would say I am fine, I am fit.”
Offensive QC coach Shane Simpson said Hunter is humble, recalling the first time he saw Hunter play in a small game among soccer players in the spring of 2019.
“We usually go on Fridays, and I saw him play around and hit the ball,” said Simpson, who played five seasons in Tucson from 2015 to 2019. , “Wow, he can really play. He wasn’t lying. I was like, ‘Okay.’ He caught me off guard.”
For now, though, Hunter’s Canvas is the clamp. Two months after being cited by the Colonial Athletic Association as an honorable kick-and-play return, the red-covered youngster returned a 96-yard kick to land in Saturday’s 65-7 loss at West Virginia.
The result was the sixth-longest return kick at an NCAA Football Championship Subdivision level this season and the second-longest by an FCS player against a Bowl Subdivision football opponent. The play was named CAA Special Teams Player of the Week and caught the attention of New Hampshire coach Rick Santos, whose wildcats (2-1 overall, 2-0 CAA) will visit Tigers (2-1, 0-0) at Johnny Stadium. Unitas in Tucson on Saturday at 4 p.m.
“You play the tape and it’s electric,” Santos said. “For us, we have to stay true to our lanes and be honest in our lanes when we go down. We have to find a way to beat football, and we can’t count on just one man to deal with it. It’s proven. Even a formidable team like West Virginia couldn’t do that.” “.
Speed has always been the Hunter’s calling card. As a teenager, he was called “The Flash,” and Tucson defense coordinator Eric Daniels recently called the hunter “the hummingbird.” The Hunter was timed running 4.53 at 40 yards and reached a speed of 21.5 mph while wearing the GPS unit.
“That makes sense,” Hunter said of the bird-related poster. “They’re fast, decisive and they come one point off the other. My speed is definitely something that stuck with me that doesn’t grow like anyone else. So I kind of stuck with my speed and focused on that, knowing that I needed that to beat all the other things around me like my height” .
Listed at 5 feet 6, Hunter is Towson’s shortest player. Simpson warned that you ignore it at your own risk.
“I think he’s only using that to his advantage because he’s always been told he’s short, that he’s small, that he’s never going to play DIY,” he said. “But he overcame all the odds that were stacked against him. Because he is so small, he can use that to his advantage because everyone will be taller. So that he can hide behind barriers more easily. And with him being so low on the ground, it will be difficult to tackle.”
Hunter said he heard whispers growing up. But his size didn’t deter him from football, basketball, baseball, or track and field.
“People have always been suspicious of me going to middle school, high school and now college,” he said. “I never focused on it. So I took it the way it was and let my play prove them wrong.”
Initially recruited in 2017 as a wide receiver, Hunter has since switched to running back, carrying the ball 14 times for 45 yards this fall. But he broke into the scene in his new red jersey season on October 19, 2019, when he returned a 92-yard kick to land in a 56-7 defeat by Bucknell.
“Truth be told, he’s one of the best athletes on our team. He’s a very talented athlete, and it’s our job to find ways to get him with the ball,” said Ambrose.
As exciting as that comeback against Bucknell was, Hunter admitted that his result against the Mountaineers on Saturday was even more meaningful. His cousin, Bradley Starks, was a quarterback turned future wide in West Virginia, and Hunter modeled his game on former Mountaineers running back receiver Tavon Austin, who grew up in Baltimore and graduated from Dunbar.
“When I was younger, I always watched West Virginia,” he said. “So doing it in a West Virginia field was definitely the best. I saw a lot of body-on-body Towson T-shirts. I saw there was a hole, and I went to go get it and it made some people miss. Next thing I knew, I was in an open field, and all I did was run.” “.
Hunter works closely with Simpson, who was the CAA Special Teams Player of the Year in 2018 and the first team to make a comeback. Hunter credited Simpson with teaching him the importance of studying films.
“He’s spending time in the movie room,” Simpson said. “Here, he asks a lot of questions. Everything else, I can’t really teach him. That’s something he has.”
Since 2019, New Hampshire has only allowed one kick back for the touchdown. Santos would like to maintain that streak but realizes that even Hunter’s long comeback can provide his teammates with a boost.
“I think any time you can create an explosive game on special teams, it greatly increases your chance of scoring in that direction and gives you momentum,” he said. “Those hidden yards that aren’t talked about enough and don’t show up in the stats, I think these are some of the things that ultimately lead to wins and losses.”
Hunter, 22, has another year of eligibility after this season and said he’d like to play professionally in the NFL, USFL, XFL or CFL. Simpson said he thinks all options are on Hunter’s side.
He said, “Heaven has no limits.” “Obviously he will always deal with the height defect, but he doesn’t let that affect him, and I love that about him. He never leaves anyone under his skin. He will go to work every day and he will be the best player he can be for this team.”
New Hampshire @ Tucson
Saturday, 4 pm
Stream: flo football