Tennessee's Justin Hunter ready to move beyond drops, regain 'swagger'

'I don't take anything personal' on Dooley comment

ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL
Tennessee wide receiver Justin Hunter (11) misses a catch for a first down opportunity in the second quarter against Alabama last Saturday at Neyland Stadium.

Photo by Adam Brimer, Knoxville News Sentinel

ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL Tennessee wide receiver Justin Hunter (11) misses a catch for a first down opportunity in the second quarter against Alabama last Saturday at Neyland Stadium.

Team comments on Alabama loss, public negativity

Derek Dooley talks about wide receiver Justin Hunter

On Monday, Derek Dooley made a mildly critical comment about junior receiver Justin Hunter that quickly found its way to Twitter.

Hunter, perhaps a tad annoyed, retweeted his coach's comments.

That raised eyebrows. Was he mad?

"Everybody has their own opinion," Hunter said Tuesday. "That's my coach. He sees me every day so he knows what I am doing or what I'm not doing right ... We are men, so I don't take anything personal."

After starting his junior season with promise, Hunter has hit a three-game slump that has coincided with the struggles of Tennessee's offense. When the Vols (3-4, 0-4 SEC) play at No. 17 South Carolina (6-2, 4-2) on Saturday (TV: ESPN, noon), Hunter will be trying to break out of the rut.

"Justin had a great swagger coming into the year, and we have to get that back," Dooley said Tuesday.

To most observers, the comments Dooley made about Hunter on Monday were controversial only because they were brutally honest.

Dooley said, in essence, that Hunter had yet to perform like the first-round NFL draft pick that many expect him to be. He suffered a torn ACL last season and has dropped a handful of passes at key moments in 2012.

"Justin has to understand that playing receiver isn't always clean and easy. There is a level of grit required to get open," Dooley said.

But Hunter said that assessment isn't entirely fair. The dropped passes have been so magnified that they obscure the fact that he's having, in his own words, a "pretty good" year.

"Everybody expects you to catch every pass, even the hard ones and the ones that go out of bounds," Hunter said. "I think I've been doing everything mostly right on the field but one drop is what everybody is going to look at."

The most prominent drop against Alabama came just before halftime. It would have been a nice catch — maybe even a great one — and given the Vols a chance to go into the locker room with a crucial score.

A week earlier against Mississippi State, Hunter was widely panned for short-arming a pass from quarterback Tyler Bray that should have been caught.

At the start of the season, the outlook was much rosier for Hunter. He caught 17 passes in the first two games and 30 in the first four. ESPN NFL draft guru Mel Kiper said Hunter was the best receiver in the field and a potential top-five overall pick.

Has the last month affected Hunter's draft stock? Hunter said he's not worried about that.

"I just try to stay focused on now," he said. "I can't get my head clouded up with all of that other stuff."

He also says that the dropped passes that have been so widely discussed elsewhere haven't fazed his confidence. His quarterback helps him stay focused.

"I just clear it out of my mind, because if you think about it, you'll drop another one," he said. "I just try to focus on the next play ... I know if I drop a pass, (Bray) will come to me and say something about it. And, if he throws a bad pass, I'll go say something to him. We're pretty even with our attitudes."

Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.

Get Copyright Permissions © 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2012 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Topics

Comments » 42

ThinkAboutIt42 writes:

More Excuses....

PUL4VOLS writes:

I'm more ready for that from him than he is!

Henley-Street-Bridge writes:

He can swagger now, and juke and jive, because all the Money games have been lost except for South Carolina... and the Vols will loose that one to, are you kidding?

Fall_Creek_Vols writes:

Hey, Justin...don't worry about the swagger...for now, just worry about CATCHING THE BALL!

jbocap writes:

Its obvious Hunter is playing soft...which in itself is him declaring for the draft!

jobrando#216494 writes:

Swagger will have to wait until after SC. Lattimore is suppose to be back healthy. Vegas spread is 14. With our 86 rank rush defense
VOLS 14 SC 31

volaholic45 writes:

Nice catch, maybe even a great catch? I recall Hunter naking a nice adjustment to the pass and the ball hitting him in stride right in the lap - two hands on it in stride. Basic catch - that's what makes it a drop, by the way.

Also good to know that Hunter and Bray are keeping track of whose to blame for each incompletion. That explains the chemistry.

Just about everyone knows what Hunter's going through, though - like when the boss focuses in on your screwup that broke the deal or messed up the order instead of all the times when you didn't cost the company money. What an ingrate!

I just love these guys. I can't imagine why DaRick didn't fit right in.

Orangeblood64 writes:

Like someone else posted a few days ago. I wake up and check the headlines saying we have a new coach but christmas isn't here....yet

Orangeblood64 writes:

Interesting article. Maybe things to come. also on the pigskinreport.

http://www.yardbarker.com/college_foo...

Vols4life77 writes:

Well I would definitely want to leave if I were hunter by just reading this sorry message board. What a bunch of effin ingrates to degrate a college kid who has been a good kid and we haven't heard one negative thing about him off the field. I think his inconsistencies stem from inconsistent QB play and defenses honing in on him. Is he playing " soft" as one guy said. I don't think so and I haven't seen it, he has just proven he is human by dropping a couple passes. Don't worry Justin most of these imbeciles have never played a down of football but think they know the game like Vince Lombardi. I would thank Justin for being a class act and I hope he breaks out this week.

Vols4life77 writes:

in response to volaholic45:

Nice catch, maybe even a great catch? I recall Hunter naking a nice adjustment to the pass and the ball hitting him in stride right in the lap - two hands on it in stride. Basic catch - that's what makes it a drop, by the way.

Also good to know that Hunter and Bray are keeping track of whose to blame for each incompletion. That explains the chemistry.

Just about everyone knows what Hunter's going through, though - like when the boss focuses in on your screwup that broke the deal or messed up the order instead of all the times when you didn't cost the company money. What an ingrate!

I just love these guys. I can't imagine why DaRick didn't fit right in.

Da'rick didnt fit in because he couldn't be coached. He was a cancer who had no respect for his teammates or coaches. He cussed out baggett on the practice field and Dooley let it go in way too long because of his talent. You still can't imagine how he couldn't fit in? Hmmm

lstbodeanvol writes:

Come on Justin we need a big game from you, Bray and Cordelle. Lets see the offense we enjoyed in Atlanta against a pretty good NC state team. Be a leader..GO VOLS !

Scoon writes:

""Justin had a great swagger coming into the year, and we have to get that back," Dooley said Tuesday."

Apparently, Derek Dooley has been listening to Coach Calipari as Coach Calipari and KY were the ones to literally coin the term 'swagger' in relation to WildCat players. Way to go there, Dooley. Everybody just loves a copyCat.

MitchelCrass writes:

in response to Vols4life77:

Well I would definitely want to leave if I were hunter by just reading this sorry message board. What a bunch of effin ingrates to degrate a college kid who has been a good kid and we haven't heard one negative thing about him off the field. I think his inconsistencies stem from inconsistent QB play and defenses honing in on him. Is he playing " soft" as one guy said. I don't think so and I haven't seen it, he has just proven he is human by dropping a couple passes. Don't worry Justin most of these imbeciles have never played a down of football but think they know the game like Vince Lombardi. I would thank Justin for being a class act and I hope he breaks out this week.

Dooley is one heluva a lawyer but a coach he is not, i can't think of why anybody would blame Bray for the losing or the drops, he hit Hunter and Riviera in the face with it multiple times in the florida game, the Patterson drop against georgia speaks for its self, Rodgers had many drops against akron. Most of Bray's mistakes come when he's forcing it late in the games. If we take Bray out we have no chance!! The coaching is really bad, game managment, play calling (you can't call the same plays back to back to back), personel (could we play a fast guy at safety for a change, could we give Devrin Young the ball again), could we coach a player up for a change, could we get a staff member who actually played QB to coach the QB????????

smokeygrowl writes:

Hunter playin not to get hurt, marking time til the combines.

FLORIDAGATORHATER writes:

Talk talk talk. Bama and Florida don't "talk." They shut up and play. Hunter needs to go. Let's get some winners on this team and dump these prima donnas along with our lousy coaching staff. Time to take out a loan and pay someone 7 million a year.

gatorhator4eva writes:

im tired of moving on...

burpee_von_rotweiler_IV writes:

He is "The Future" Part II.

Orangepuddinskin writes:

in response to Fall_Creek_Vols:

Hey, Justin...don't worry about the swagger...for now, just worry about CATCHING THE BALL!

THIS is a great post.

ashvol7 writes:

in response to collegegrovebilly:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You must not have been around when Bill Battle was here? he was probably the worst. You might throw Sal into this, he is the worst that I have seen and hope that he is out of here soon.

leedsvol2007 writes:

Justin is tremendously talented and he will rebound. He is going through a similar stretch to what Peerless Price went through with his ankle in 1997.

Price had been brilliant in the spring of 97 and severely injured his ankle. He was able to come back but subconsciously was not trusting it. Later that year he made some huge plays for us and was one of the reasons we won the 98 national championship.

Over the years myself and others have observed it usually is not until the 2nd year after a severe knee injury that an athlete's performance gets back to 100%. And many times it is more mental than physical.

Justin is a good kid with a great work ethic he is still going to do some big things for our program.

GoVols!

JayTee writes:

I don't know why anyone would think he is a 1st round draft pick when he hasn't shown he can play with the big boys in the SEC yet.

SandySpringsVol writes:

in response to collegegrovebilly:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Actually, you are wrong -- unless of course you consider losing to lesser-ranked Alabama teams by 21, 23 and 22 points respectively in 1973, 1974 and 1975 "in every bama (sic) game".

Also, in each of those years, UT played a total of two top twenty teams, compared to five this year.

Not defending Dooley, but not letting your false information pass as true.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Scoon:

""Justin had a great swagger coming into the year, and we have to get that back," Dooley said Tuesday."

Apparently, Derek Dooley has been listening to Coach Calipari as Coach Calipari and KY were the ones to literally coin the term 'swagger' in relation to WildCat players. Way to go there, Dooley. Everybody just loves a copyCat.

Your proud ignorance is showing again. The term "swagger" in the sense of the showy self-confidence some would-be elite athletes try to cultivate goes back to at least the 1960's, probably back to the AFL Oakland Raiders, when Cal was about 6 years old. So I wonder who HE copied it from. Just because Cal or any other blue person uses a particular term doesn't mean they invented it, doofus. Unfortunately, the term is universal these days, I still hate it, and I rather doubt Cal would claim to have invented it.

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

in response to JayTee:

I don't know why anyone would think he is a 1st round draft pick when he hasn't shown he can play with the big boys in the SEC yet.

He's probably at best a late 3rd rounder unless it's a weak WR class...No matter where he falls, Hunter would find it hard even making a NFL roster..Hunter is not great at getting separation against good CB's on short routes..The old saying stands true..."Great players make big plays in big games" and Hunter has not

johnlg00 writes:

in response to SandySpringsVol:

Actually, you are wrong -- unless of course you consider losing to lesser-ranked Alabama teams by 21, 23 and 22 points respectively in 1973, 1974 and 1975 "in every bama (sic) game".

Also, in each of those years, UT played a total of two top twenty teams, compared to five this year.

Not defending Dooley, but not letting your false information pass as true.

Many years ago, I was in a political science class at UT. One day we had a professional political operative visit to tell us how elections were REALLY run. A student questioned an ad this pro's campaign was running because it had a half-dozen or so clearly provable factual errors in it. The pro didn't bat an eye when he said, "Well, yes, those ARE factual errors but the ad as a whole creates the impression we want voters to have about our opponent, so it does seem to be working as intended." Remember this anytime you read a political ad or a post by a troll.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to licknpromise777#651578:

He's probably at best a late 3rd rounder unless it's a weak WR class...No matter where he falls, Hunter would find it hard even making a NFL roster..Hunter is not great at getting separation against good CB's on short routes..The old saying stands true..."Great players make big plays in big games" and Hunter has not

Run the designated route, see the ball, catch the ball. Do all that ALL THE TIME, Hunter, and you WILL be a great player and probably a very rich man. Keep doing what you have been doing lately, and the only way you will see the pros is on TV.

volpreacher writes:

in response to Scoon:

""Justin had a great swagger coming into the year, and we have to get that back," Dooley said Tuesday."

Apparently, Derek Dooley has been listening to Coach Calipari as Coach Calipari and KY were the ones to literally coin the term 'swagger' in relation to WildCat players. Way to go there, Dooley. Everybody just loves a copyCat.

You must be 12 years old. The term swagger has been used for many many years. And not created by Kentucky. You must be a UK fan thinking such foolishness.

invisiblekid writes:

Swagger is soooooo 2005.

I am not sure how this whole coaching through the media tactic by Dooley is supposed to play out, but these things are usually handled on the practice field.

"Confidence is contagious. So is a lack of confidence"

We saw how confident our coach was before halftime last Saturday. Maybe he should work on his swagger as well.

Scoon writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Your proud ignorance is showing again. The term "swagger" in the sense of the showy self-confidence some would-be elite athletes try to cultivate goes back to at least the 1960's, probably back to the AFL Oakland Raiders, when Cal was about 6 years old. So I wonder who HE copied it from. Just because Cal or any other blue person uses a particular term doesn't mean they invented it, doofus. Unfortunately, the term is universal these days, I still hate it, and I rather doubt Cal would claim to have invented it.

The spirit of hustle and swagger of the player.

John, I know that term has been around, but it wasn't until Calipari started with it that lately some of these other coaches, like Martin, jumped the bandwagon with it. And, I watch, hear, read sports constantly and that term just hasn't been into play at the forefront for a number of years. From the lips of John to the rest of the collegiate world, he is a leader. My 'coined' was just as expression, although some do believe that.

Scoon writes:

in response to volpreacher:

You must be 12 years old. The term swagger has been used for many many years. And not created by Kentucky. You must be a UK fan thinking such foolishness.

You know I'm beginning to not like that word .. 'swagger'. Let's just say that KY, more in particular, Calipari, brought it back into the forefront and off the lips of other coaches.

VolinCalif writes:

in response to Scoon:

The spirit of hustle and swagger of the player.

John, I know that term has been around, but it wasn't until Calipari started with it that lately some of these other coaches, like Martin, jumped the bandwagon with it. And, I watch, hear, read sports constantly and that term just hasn't been into play at the forefront for a number of years. From the lips of John to the rest of the collegiate world, he is a leader. My 'coined' was just as expression, although some do believe that.

Hi Scoon
You are correct the word has been around many years but was not a common used word. But I get the point Cap started the current trend. Are you guys in Kittyland ready for a new coach? You'll have the Ex-Ark'y and his bike by or just after the Beer Barrel.It is going to make Ky relevant in the SEC E.
The Vols should know this week about their future direction. I think Dooley has the ability to be a good coach just tried too hard to be one of the good old boys and not a coach. We saw Steve as SC do that with his QB for a couple of years and what did that get him? He dumped the problem and has done great every sense. Dooley is doing that with more than one player. Tell 43 hello .

SummittsCourt writes:

Play hard and be a top 10 draft pick or play soft and be a mid to late 3rd round draft pick. So far, his soft play will cost him millions. It's more than that dropped pass before halftime - it's his whole season that has been a disappointment. Really wish Da'Rick hadn't been a screw up now.

UTVolWarrior98 writes:

But Hunter said that assessment isn't entirely fair. The dropped passes have been so magnified that they obscure the fact that he's having, in his own words, a "pretty good" year.

"Everybody expects you to catch every pass, even the hard ones and the ones that go out of bounds," Hunter said. "I think I've been doing everything mostly right on the field but one drop is what everybody is going to look at."

This is the problem with this program!! No accountability...always a lame excuse...defiant attitudes...no blame, etc..

You guys ever notice that our players call other players formally by their last names. I tell Bray this and that. Why isnt it Tyler..or Ty for short. No chemistry at all..terrible!

VolFanInMO writes:

Just catch the ball.

usafvol writes:

in response to Scoon:

""Justin had a great swagger coming into the year, and we have to get that back," Dooley said Tuesday."

Apparently, Derek Dooley has been listening to Coach Calipari as Coach Calipari and KY were the ones to literally coin the term 'swagger' in relation to WildCat players. Way to go there, Dooley. Everybody just loves a copyCat.

Right doofus, Calipari invented "swagger". Did he also help Al Gore invent the internet?

RealisticVol writes:

I would rather see more concentration on performance and less on running their mouths and self promotion. Humility and getting the job done seems to have disappeared from these players........just as it has for much of the population.

murrayvol writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Run the designated route, see the ball, catch the ball. Do all that ALL THE TIME, Hunter, and you WILL be a great player and probably a very rich man. Keep doing what you have been doing lately, and the only way you will see the pros is on TV.

Succinct and accurate.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Scoon:

The spirit of hustle and swagger of the player.

John, I know that term has been around, but it wasn't until Calipari started with it that lately some of these other coaches, like Martin, jumped the bandwagon with it. And, I watch, hear, read sports constantly and that term just hasn't been into play at the forefront for a number of years. From the lips of John to the rest of the collegiate world, he is a leader. My 'coined' was just as expression, although some do believe that.

That's funny; I haven't seen an interview with or about any slumping athlete lately--that is, for a good long while now--where that term didn't come up, and believe it or not, the whole world doesn't hang on every word that comes out of Cal's mouth. I have never said that Cal wasn't a leader, just that he is not the cultural touchstone all you blue people seem to think.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to RealisticVol:

I would rather see more concentration on performance and less on running their mouths and self promotion. Humility and getting the job done seems to have disappeared from these players........just as it has for much of the population.

We may just be old fogeys, but I remember something one of my coaches said to a kid who aspired to be a bit of a hot dog. He said, "Do it and you don't have to talk about it--everybody will notice whether you talk about it or not; don't do it, and it doesn't matter what you say." Ah, the good ol' days--in some ways, at least. His advice was that if you win and somebody is talking trash, just point to the scoreboard; "If you lose, just say, "'Good game'", shake hands and walk away. You can NEVER win the game after it's over."

UTVolWarrior98 writes:

Wow, Hunter's attitude is really, really disheartening. I didnt think this guy would ever display such an infantile demeanor. He tweeted "Im done" and "I thought we were family" in response to Dooley's criticism lol

WHHHHHAAAAAAAH....WHHHAAAAA..CRY ME A RIVER JUSTIN!!!

VolinVirginia writes:

"Dooley said, in essence, that Hunter had yet to perform like the first-round NFL draft pick that many expect him to be. "

Exactly who are these "many" who expect him to be a "first-round NFL draft pick?" IMUO, I don't, and I don't know anyone who does think this - anymore…..

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features