Notre Dame WR Torii Hunter Jr. gets married on bye week, turns focus to Miami

Mike Vorel
South Bend Tribune

First, marriage.

Then, Miami.

Torii Hunter Jr.’s priorities are in order. The 6-foot, 195-pound senior is a two-sport athlete at Notre Dame, contributing as a wide receiver and captain on the football team and former outfielder on the baseball team. In June, he signed a professional baseball contract with the Los Angeles Angels. And through six football games this season, he has hauled in 25 catches for 360 yards and a touchdown.

But undoubtedly, his most memorable Saturday this fall didn’t take place inside Notre Dame Stadium.

During the open weekend, while many of his teammates sunk like quicksand into their couches, Hunter married his high school sweetheart, Selina Bell. He could have waited until after the season.

But he didn’t want to. He had waited long enough.

“We haven't been able to be together a lot over the last couple of years,” said Hunter, a native of Prosper, Texas. “So we just are ready to be together. That's why we did it over the bye week.”

Hunter manages inarguably one of the most hectic schedules on Notre Dame’s roster — juggling football in the fall and baseball in the spring, all while striving to graduate with a degree in IT management in December. He couldn’t have had too much extra time to help plan a wedding.

Luckily, he didn’t have to.

“I didn't really have to do much,” a smiling Hunter said on Wednesday. “I just kind of said my two cents every once in a while. But for the most part she (Bell) let me focus on the season and what I needed to do while she took care of most of the planning and stuff. We talked about it at the beginning of the season, when it was less hectic.

“But she just kind of executed everything and she made it happen. So I'm thankful for her.”

So thankful, in fact, that when it came time to seal the matrimonial deal on Saturday, Hunter was totally calm. Like any Irish football player, butterflies bounce like bumper cars around in his stomach prior to kickoff in a primetime game.

But his wedding — the most important day of his life, up until now — was easy.

“It may be surprising, but I wasn't nervous at all,” Hunter said. “I knew that I wanted to do it. I knew she was the one.

“So I wasn't really nervous about it. I was ready to go.”

Now, he’s ready to finish his senior season. He’s ready to help shake the Irish out of an uncharacteristic 2-5 start. He’s ready to set an example for the young wide receivers — guys like Equanimeous St. Brown, C.J. Sanders, Miles Boykin and Kevin Stepherson — who haven’t yet learned how to win.

“It was hard trying to maintain the culture that was there last year because a lot of guys, they may not have been able to be around. A lot of the guys didn't play last year,” Hunter said. “So me and Corey Robinson, we tried to explain to them and show them the way that it's supposed to be. But obviously it's tough because they've never been out there, and they're just inexperienced.

“So I think that's one of the biggest impacts with having a lot of young guys, just trying to maintain that culture and that's what we're working on right now. On Sunday we reevaluated ourselves and figured out where we wanted to go and the standard we want to maintain throughout the rest of the season.”

At 2-5, Notre Dame’s season has already fallen well short of expectations. There’s no New Year’s Day bowl to look forward to. There may not be any bowl at all.

So what keeps Hunter and Co. motivated to stave off mediocrity?

“I think it's just the love we have for each other and for the university and what it stands for,” Hunter said.

There’s a lot of love in Hunter’s life right now … but some of it will have to wait.

“We're going to play a couple of games first,” Hunter said, “and worry about the honeymoon after the season.”

@thunterjr_ and @selinabell_ first dance.

A video posted by Torii Hunter (@tnutts48) on Oct 23, 2016 at 5:18pm PDT

@thunterjr_ and his mom @knutts48 dancing during the mother and son dance. #tupac #dearmama

A video posted by Torii Hunter (@tnutts48) on Oct 23, 2016 at 5:44pm PDT

@thunterjr_ and @knutts48 mother and son dance part 2

A video posted by Torii Hunter (@tnutts48) on Oct 23, 2016 at 6:08pm PDT

@thunterjr_ and @knutts48 mother and son dance. #part3 #jujuonthatbeat

A video posted by Torii Hunter (@tnutts48) on Oct 23, 2016 at 7:41pm PDT

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Twitter: @mikevorel

Notre Dame’s Torii Hunter Jr. (16) carries the ball during the first half against Stanford at Notre Dame Stadium Saturday, October 15, 2016 in South Bend. Tribune Photo/BECKY MALEWITZ