Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

MARSHALL FOOTBALL ; PROMISED LAND FOR HUNTER; Herds Moses Ready to Finish His Long College Journey

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

MARSHALL FOOTBALL ; PROMISED LAND FOR HUNTER; Herds Moses Ready to Finish His Long College Journey

Article excerpt

HUNTINGTON - It seems like just yesterday that Marshall linebacker D.J. Hunter earned the tag of freshman All-American. Now he has a few different descriptions, not related to youth.

"I'm Moses' around here, Hunter joked during the Thundering Herd's Fan Day. "[Newcomer Davon] Durant, he just came in here, he called me his uncle.

"I know his brother [actually cousin, D.J. Swearinger of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers], we both were going to Tennessee together.

Hunter is indeed the graybeard in the Herd camp. He will turn 25 on Aug. 25, and he is the oldest member of the team.

"I'm not quite sure he's Moses, said MU coach Doc Holliday. "He's been around a long time - been around as long as I have, I think.

In a way, that is the case.

It was 6 1/2 long years ago, January 2009, when Hunter was committed to sign with Lane Kiffin and the Tennessee program. Legal issues dashed all that.

Long, well-documented story short: Hunter was lucky to even pursue athletics again. He was pursued by Marshall and Holliday, and in 2011 he enrolled at Marshall as a non-qualifier.

"It's been a long journey, Hunter said. "Everybody's got a story; I really am not going to judge anybody's story. Everybody's got to take a different path to get to where they want to go. So I'm just happy to be here, happy being a Herd [player], and I'm looking forward to my senior campaign.

Even without his three-year wait just to get into a college game, Hunter traveled a long path to this point.

That started with the 2012 opener, the Herd's 69-34 pummeling at West Virginia. Hunter, sitting behind two graduate transfer safeties from Boston College, barely saw action and made just two tackles.

After that, a mandate became clear: He had to get on the field. Strong-side linebacker was the way to do it, even with his lack of linebacker size. (He was listed generously at 204 pounds.) He even denied he was a linebacker, declaring himself a nickel back.

But he was the best linebacker on an otherwise porous defense, and was named to Sporting News' Freshman All-America team.

The move back to safety was inevitable in 2013, but not profitable as he suffered concussion-like symptoms in the year's seventh game, that 51-49 loss at Middle Tennessee. …

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