WR Torii Hunter Jr. on track to deliver for Notre Dame
SOUTH BEND — Shortly after his suit/vest/bow-tie combination failed to capture first place in the “Best Dressed” category at last week’s Notre Dame Football Awards Show, Irish sophomore wide receiver Torii Hunter Jr. was prodded to offer his opinion on the fan voting, his questioner offering that Hunter's ensemble was indeed first-place worthy.
“I agree,” Hunter said. “But it’s not up to me. It’s up to the voters.”
Don’t feel too sorry for Hunter. He still left the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center with an award. He walked away with the Offensive Newcomer of the Year Award. It made Hunter a repeat winner as he earned Offensive Scout Team Player of the Year after the 2013 season.
The 6-foot, 190-pound Hunter made his college debut this season after spending his freshman year rehabbing a broken leg suffered at a high school all-star game. Hunter made his first collegiate appearance in Week 4 this season after a fall camp groin tear knocked him out of the first three games.
It was a debut to remember.
Throughout his rehab, Hunter had told football head athletic trainer Rob Hunt that when he caught his first pass, he would be doing everything he could to score. Falling down prior to reaching the end zone would not be an option.
“Whenever I get an opportunity I’m going to score. I don’t care what anybody says, I’m trying to go score. I’m not falling down. I’m just going to go score,” Hunter said.
With 10:19 remaining in Notre Dame’s 31-15 victory over Syracuse, Irish quarterback Everett Golson dropped back from the Orange 13 and found Hunter in the MetLife Stadium end zone.
First catch. First touchdown.
“I guess I spoke it into existence,” Hunter said. “And then I saw (Hunt) on the sideline. I told him, ‘I told you so.’”
Hunter played in nine games this season, catching seven passes for 65 yards and the touchdown. He also carried twice for 13 yards. Hunter’s role could expand in game 13, the Dec. 30 Music City Bowl matchup against LSU.
“I expect him to get some more playing time and make a contribution in this game,” Irish coach Brian Kelly said this week. “He’s going to have to.”
What Hunter had to do early in the year was overcome the disappointment of a second season beset by injury. The broken leg truncated his entire freshman season, but he thought he was healthy during camp.
“Just to have another big injury come out of nowhere, you thought you’d prepared yourself well, you thought, ‘OK, I’m ready to go. I don’t feel any kind of pain,’” Hunter said, “but it just kind of happened out of nowhere.”
Hunter arrived at Notre Dame with recruiting accolades, so his burst into the wide receiver rotation was anticipated.
“I think I did a pretty good job of taking advantage of the opportunities I was given,” Hunter said. “There’s always room for improvement.”
Alford interviews at CSU
Notre Dame running backs coach/recruiting coordinator Tony Alford interviewed this week for the vacant head coaching position at Colorado State, according to The Coloradoan.
Alford, who has coached at Notre Dame since 2009, played at Colorado State from 1987-90.