Cordarrelle Patterson may be getting the majority of attention leading up to the 2013 NFL draft, but don't be fooled. The University of Tennessee produced two NFL-ready wide receivers in 2012. The one we should be hearing more about is Justin Hunter.
Standing at 6'4" and weighing 196 pounds, Hunter's size is daunting. His imposing frame allowed him to get the best of small defenders in college, and he isn't the fastest receiver available, his long strides allow him to swallow up yards in a hurry.
To get you more acquainted with the Tennessee prospect, here are some of Hunter's best highlights from 2012.
This video is a fairly routine play that demonstrates Hunter's strengths.
Hunter begins the play lined up wide at the top of the screen. After a quick fake to the halfback, the quarterback rolls out, sees his man downfield and rockets a beautiful pass deep over the middle.
What you don't see in the video is how Hunter turns on the jets as soon as the ball is snapped and basically runs by everyone in Troy's secondary.
The end result is Hunter making a wide-open catch just as he trots across the goal line.
This is a pretty basic play that just about every NFL team has in its repertoire. Hunter shows here that he can run it to perfection.
Here we have another basic call in any passing offense: the slant pattern.
Tennessee comes out with four wideouts, Hunter stretched to the top of the screen.
In the ensuing play, Hunter shows off two things that should make offensive coordinators and wide receiver coaches very happy. First, he bursts off the line of scrimmage with incredible speed, allowing him to get inside the corner before the defender can react.
Second, he uses his massive frame to box out the corner and create a wide-open passing lane for his quarterback. Hunter makes the grab and displays some toughness by resisting the initial tackle and almost rolling his way into the end zone.
This catch may come late in a blowout against a weak opponent, but it is nonetheless a remarkable play.
Hunter is yet again lined up at the top of the screen. The ball is snapped and he takes off into his route, a straight shot down the field. He easily shakes off the corner's jam and creates separation. His QB lays up a floater that hangs toward the sideline.
Hunter leaps up in the end zone, gracefully plucks it out of the air and gets both feet in bounds (remember, only one foot is necessary in college—this pass would have been complete in the NFL). Stunning concentration in a confined space.
How good is Justin Hunter? He can turn near-disasters into highlight-worthy miracles.
Case in point: The above highlight features Hunter going deep against a Missouri corner. It appears as though Hunter has the man beat, but the quarterback underthrows the ball.
Rather than giving up on the play and letting the Missouri defender grab an easy interception, Hunter stops on a dime, readjusts and leaps over the back of the corner to make the circus catch. It's definitely one of the more impressive catches I've seen in some time.
This play goes south from the beginning thanks to a blown assignment in Kentucky's secondary.
The corner lined up on Hunter tracks him for a few steps before sprinting to the flat to cover a receiver on an out pattern. Meanwhile, the safety who is supposed to close in on Hunter doesn't do so fast enough, leaving Hunter wide open on the sideline. That's not the worst part, though.
Kentucky's safety still could have salvaged his mistake by coming up with the tackle. But Hunter would have none of it. He cuts inside the safety before delivering a nasty cut that completely destroys the safety. With the defender wildly out of position, Hunter simply has to jog into the end zone.
Don't let his frame fool you. Hunter can dance like a player half his size.
It may not carry the awe of juggling a trio of chainsaws, but Hunter's magical touchdown grab against Troy is nonetheless fantastic.
Hunter runs a deep crossing route late in the first quarter. The QB sees he's open in one-on-one coverage and fires a laser over the middle. Hunter extends his long arms at the goal line but merely stops the ball's progress, leaving it hovering in the air.
As the big receiver falls to the turf, he never once loses concentration and pulls the ball in, securing the touchdown. And all along, the poor corner looks defenseless to intervene.
Tennessee's 2012 game against Troy has been a focal point in this highlight reel, and for good reason. It was one of Hunter's best games.
In yet another clip from that contest, Hunter shows that he can be a clutch receiver. With the Volunteers trailing 48-41 with only three minutes to play, Tennessee's quarterback hits Hunter about one yard downfield on a crossing pattern.
With no one within at least five yards of the receiver, Hunter cuts upfield and outruns one defender's angle. That would be all it took. Hunter continued through the seam and burned everyone else on his way to a 46-yard touchdown that would tie the game.
Tennessee would go on to win the game.
Similar to the previous highlight, this clip shows Hunter's ability to make plays when the game is on the line.
Tennessee and Missouri had battled into a third overtime. Missouri was on top, 48-42. On 3rd-and-11, the Vols tried a pass over the middle to Hunter who had come open around the 9-yard line.
As Hunter turns his head towards the end zone, a gaggle of Missouri defenders close in to steel the line. Hunter was undeterred. He lowered his shoulder just as the first defender crashed into his legs at the 3-yard line. Hunter stumbled slightly yet was able to leap forward and stretch the ball across the goal line for the touchdown.
I can't think of any NFL team that wouldn't want that kind of gutsy play out of its wide receivers.