Justin the nick of time for Hunter

Vols relieved NCAA clears freshman receiver to play in opener

Wide receiver Justin Hunter at practice.

Photo by Saul Young

Wide receiver Justin Hunter at practice.

Derek Dooley didn't show any signs of relief.

In fact, the Tennessee coach almost forgot to even mention the NCAA Eligibility Center drama that's hung over freshman Justin Hunter's head the past two weeks.

But the two words Dooley tacked to the end of his opening comments after practice on Tuesday at Haslam Field were obviously the ones that meant the most to the Vols. And despite the frustration Dooley has shown while waiting for clearance for his heralded receiver, the matter-of-fact delivery was perhaps just a sign of validation for something he expected from the start.

"Hunter's back," Dooley said.

That news overshadowed what was an otherwise standard practice for the Vols, who worked on third-down and red-zone installation as they prepare for Saturday's opener against UT Martin.

But the fact that Hunter was back in pads - and his new No. 11 jersey - surely helped make it seem more normal for Dooley, who didn't hide his emotions about getting the athletic target back on the field well until Tuesday.

"It was a huge relief," Dooley said. "There was a lot of nervous coaches, but we were confident all along that he was going to get cleared. It was just a question of when.

"We had no control over the situation, and it's always a lesson that you can't worry about things you can't control, so make the best of it. He was a little bit hurting in the foot, so we took it as an opportunity to triple the treatment, you all saw the boot on him. So you just find how to turn it into a positive. That's what he did, and he handled it great."

Now Hunter can turn his attention back to handling the football, which he was perhaps doing better than anybody when his training camp was derailed on Aug. 19 over an issue with an Internet course he took in high school.

Just before the NCAA sat him down to review his transcript, Hunter had really started to emerge with a five-catch, 128-yard performance in the second scrimmage of fall camp and was drawing nothing but high praise from the coaching staff and his teammates. He appeared to have collected a little rust during the time off and dropped the first ball thrown his way during the open portion of practice Tuesday, but apparently there weren't many other problems after that.

"He did good," senior receiver Gerald Jones said. "I told him that I thought he was going to lose a step, it's kind of hard when you don't catch the ball for about four or five days. But he caught the ball well. I don't know assignment-wise how he did, we'll go back and watch film, but he looked good out there.

"Yeah, maybe we saw a couple balls on the ground that he would have caught that he didn't catch, but he didn't lose a lot."

If anything, Hunter might have benefited from that time off to rest his sore foot. And UT certainly came out ahead by getting him back on the field before kicking off the season this weekend.

For all the hype around Hunter during camp, the Vols still haven't seen him in a game yet. But now they know there won't be a wait.

"I was most concerned about his being in shape," Dooley said. "We've tightened down the game plan a little bit, and he's been looking it over, I'm sure. But he's fine. It'll hit him in a couple days, probably. The first day is always easy.

"Usually on the first day back you're a ball of energy and you're going, then all of a sudden, you realize, 'Am I still in good shape or not?' You hope it won't be too big of a setback, but we'll see - he'll be ready for Saturday."

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Comments » 48

ccantrell#227456 writes:

Love the fact he is going to wear number 11. He will make the VOL nation forget about last year's number 11. Welcome backkkkk...

VolGrad writes:

'bout time.

GBO!

Down_The_Field writes:

in response to Plasticman:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

...what plastic said.

OrangeCounsel writes:

I just hope he is not still "a little bit hurting in the foot."

realmenwearorange writes:

this is great news and we need that right now!!!!!

Hillbilly_Orange writes:

You folks that bought #11 jerseys last year, can wear them with pride again. GBO!

jandjhome#228397 writes:

Good news to start the day.

iadvol writes:

in response to Moral_Victories_U:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

i just wrote down "troll bag". how does that work for you?

HollySpringsVOL writes:

in response to Moral_Victories_U:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Yawn....

VolGrad writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEAR:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Maybe it is because they know the offense better and can run the routes more proficiently.

Maybe it is because they have been doing this at an SEC level longer than any of the young talent.

Maybe it is because the coaches just want to needle you with it.

Maybe.

Go Vols!!!

maciste54 writes:

in response to Euro_Vol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You meant to say "stupidest" not funniest !

duke.moses#299699 writes:

in response to Moral_Victories_U:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Hope no one gets sick this year and your coach can make the trip! You had the score backwards by the way...

UT - 63
UF - 6

Idiot!!

Go Vols!!

fronix5000 writes:

Ok, Since we are collecting trolls, you asked for it: FLORIDA PRIDE DAY Gay-turs:

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_K1en1dFLcsI...

fronix5000 writes:

in response to duke.moses#299699:

Hope no one gets sick this year and your coach can make the trip! You had the score backwards by the way...

UT - 63
UF - 6

Idiot!!

Go Vols!!

true. AND if this Florida fan actually believed it, he'd put money on it. I'm publicly calling out this bet Moral. I'll take it. Publicly you offered a wager? If you back down you prove me right. If you take it you prove me right. Either way I win. I'll give you a 7 point spread. Anyone else wanna take the bet with Moral arse?

iowavol writes:

in response to VolGrad:

Maybe it is because they know the offense better and can run the routes more proficiently.

Maybe it is because they have been doing this at an SEC level longer than any of the young talent.

Maybe it is because the coaches just want to needle you with it.

Maybe.

Go Vols!!!

Great post! And just maybe, with all this talent at 2 or 3's, it means Jones and Moore are pretty dang good themselves. Regardless, I feel pretty good about the WR's. If they and our brand new QB can be on the same page 70% of the time, that would be great.

Lostvolinhighweeds writes:

in response to Moral_Victories_U:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

No need, I'm sure I still have it written down somewhere from last year.

10ECDave writes:

in response to fronix5000:

Ok, Since we are collecting trolls, you asked for it: FLORIDA PRIDE DAY Gay-turs:

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_K1en1dFLcsI...

Now that's funny I don't care who you are!! Jorts Ha Ha.

ClarksvilleVols42 writes:

in response to ccantrell#227456:

Love the fact he is going to wear number 11. He will make the VOL nation forget about last year's number 11. Welcome backkkkk...

Another Joey Kent maybe??..Best #11 I ever saw on the field

NeylandWest writes:

in response to Moral_Victories_U:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

TN wins the grudge match and Urban retires for the second time in a year. Foley flips the F out, begs Urban back and just like a scene from the Waterboy when the Fonz has no idea how to call a play, Urban sits on a football and starts crying like a little girl.

Write it down.

Volunatic writes:

in response to Lostvolinhighweeds:

No need, I'm sure I still have it written down somewhere from last year.

Good comeback!

gnm53108 writes:

in response to ClarksvilleVols42:

Another Joey Kent maybe??..Best #11 I ever saw on the field

Would love to see a repeat of the 95 al game.

First play slant across the middle for a 80 Big Orange TD!We were sitt'n in that end zone and I swear it was like he ran straight towards the only orange he could in that see of crimson.

Damn I miss Joey.

GerryOP writes:

in response to Moral_Victories_U:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Yes, write it down! lil' ZZgataboy will get his Moral_Victories_U screen named tossed off the board and deny he ever posted this.

FearTheVols1252 writes:

in response to Moral_Victories_U:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I believe you turds said the same thing last year. You’re not a very good prognosticator. Vegas loves suckers like you!

pofallon writes:

It's Hunter, not Turner. Are you serious?

Volchief writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEAR:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I like everything I've heard about Hunter and truly believe he will shine this year as a true freshman. Jones and Moore have solidified their roles as starters simply by their experience playing through the tumultuous distractions of the past 2 seasons. They deserve it! My question is about Rogers and Milton. I saw neither on the depth chart that came out on Monday. I'm assuming that Rogers will play as a true freshman but are we red shirting Milton? If so, that leaves us with Jones, Moore, Zack Rogers, Da'Rick Rogers, & Hunter this year at wideout. Just asking because haven't really heard anything about Matt Milton since seems like spring ball

Lizardgrad89 writes:

That would be dumb.

If you "know" you will win by 50+, you go to Vegas and try to find a line with odds, i.e. if the straight up line is 12, you find someone paying 5-1 if you take a line of 35.

So you put 10G's down, watch the 57 point victory, collect your 50G's and go home.

You DON'T go straight up with a message board troll on the outer edge of your opinion of the actual spread in the game. Even if you are right, you would still never get paid.

NashvillePreds writes:

I heard that Urbie was one of the FLA losers on here.

Yes, he's THAT paranoid.

tnsportsman writes:

in response to fronix5000:

Ok, Since we are collecting trolls, you asked for it: FLORIDA PRIDE DAY Gay-turs:

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_K1en1dFLcsI...

LOL, that's great! I bet Cryer M got excited seeing his love boi decked out, LOL.

GO VOLS, WE ARE UT!

smifrat writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

NeylandWest writes:

in response to Lostvolinhighweeds:

No need, I'm sure I still have it written down somewhere from last year.

Quote of the week. Thanks! hahahaha

VOLliven2it writes:

This is a nick(nick of time)which will be even more valuable than having Nick Stephens, whom I had hoped we could keep. The powerful NCAA loves drama and keeping people waiting. I hope this young man becomes a Hunter of the end zone and finds it often. GO BIG ORANGE!

The7Maxims writes:

"All I'm trying to do is not get yelled at"- Justin Hunter

Down_The_Field writes:

justin! welcome back, baby!

strap it on, we got some games to win!

Mobbdeep4life writes:

in response to Moral_Victories_U:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I would be afraid to have what you're smoking!

Vol_in_GA writes:

in response to Moral_Victories_U:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

DC_Vol writes:

in response to Moral_Victories_U:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Here write this down.

1 2 3 4 T
#1 FLA 3 10 0 0 13
#2 ALA 9 10 7 6 32

Tim Tebow couldn't do a thing, tears streaming down his cheeks as he watched the clock wind down on an ending that wasn't in his farewell plan.

Love this quote!

http://scores.espn.go.com/ncf/recap?g...

DC_Vol writes:

in response to Moral_Victories_U:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Here is the link so you can write down Alabama's lopsided statistics of their beat down of Florida. LOL

http://scores.espn.go.com/ncf/recap?g...

gnm53108 writes:

in response to RichieRich:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Dont know for sure but I bet you're right.

Bryce's rushing yards last year/Justin's recievng yards this year?

I'd go with Justin.

gnm53108 writes:

in response to RichieRich:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

8 wins...Why so pessimistic?
hehe

I'm a koolaider but anywhere from 6-10 wins wouldn't suprise me.

Less than 6 or more than 10 and I'd be shocked.

gatorhator4eva writes:

in response to Moral_Victories_U:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

dont count your chickens before they hatch. u know what they say. gator bait. thats exactly what your going to be once u come to knoxville. how that alabama game work out for ya at the sec championship. urban Cryer lost his little buddy tim teblow.

gatorhator4eva writes:

in response to RichieRich:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

amen. got my tickets in my safe. section z11. gators are in for a surprise.

Ralph_Crampton writes:

Richie-Rich....Your predictions are very interesting...but it scares me that we might get invited again to the Atlanta chicken bowl where we are laughed at by the Atlanta press corps for our miserable showings...this bowl is poison to the Vols, and a bowl game is supposed to be a reward for the season record...please don't accept the Atlanta bowl again...however most don't think its probable we won't go to any bowl, which would be better for our reputation.

illinoisvolfan writes:

in response to Moral_Victories_U:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Same spit, different day...

username writes:

Responding to the questions about Milton, I thought he was moved to the D-backfield earlier in the summer?

VolsAllTheWay writes:

in response to Moral_Victories_U:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

At least UF got the right mascot - All mouth, no brains.

BubbaJ writes:

Ain't it great college football is back! Vols vs Swamp Lizards is still 17 days away, and the trash talk is going strong.

OwensboroVol writes:

in response to DC_Vol:

Here is the link so you can write down Alabama's lopsided statistics of their beat down of Florida. LOL

http://scores.espn.go.com/ncf/recap?g...

Why do you guys give this idiot so much attention. Its clear that sooner or later he will miss an appointment with his parole officer and will have to return to being someones little honey in the Florida big house.

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