Wide receiver Justin Hunter has proven himself an asset to the Tennessee football team this season.
This was especially apparent in the Vols' 52-14 victory over Ole Miss on Saturday.
The true freshman from Virginia Beach, Va., has found a way to shine as he gets open and finds the ball. His abilities have earned the UT quarterbacks' confidence when they throw the ball.
"He's been great," freshman Tyler Bray said. "He's a guy who can jump out of this building complex (Neyland-Thompson Sports Complex)."
In return, Hunter has assurance in his quarterbacks, which makes for an excellent relationship. With both Bray and Hunter starting as true freshmen, it has created a bond that can potentially last for the next several years.
"I feel like I have confidence in both of them, as long as they get the ball off and they do what they got to do," Hunter said.
Along with football, Hunter has performed in the junior portion of the USA Outdoor Championships and hopes to compete on the UT track-and-field team under the guidance of track-and-field coach Jerome Romain. He is the nation's No. 3 long jumper and No. 7 high jumper in his age group, which helps him on the gridiron.
"I enjoy track more, because that's what I've been doing," Hunter said. "That's where my heart is, but football is what I think I'm better at."
With a receiver lineup that includes seniors Denarius Moore and Gerald Jones, Hunter has stepped up to the challenge. He has confidence in his abilities to compete in this division and feels that he can stay ahead of his defenders
"If I get that first step on the defender, I don't think he's going to be able to catch me," Hunter said.
Far from being intimidated by his elders, Hunter appreciates the assistance of older players like Jones and Moore. Hunter said they're helping grow as a player.
"I feel confident around them, because they're helping me learn the game," Hunter said. "Just like any old guy would."
After the win against Ole Miss Saturday, Hunter was encouraged by the team's performance. Hunter said that the win showed how everything goes well when the team contributes as a whole.
"The win felt good for us because everything went our way," Hunter said. "Everybody was contributing to what we were doing on the field."
Far from overthinking his role, Hunter said he had few thoughts running through his mind as he caught his second touchdown of the day.
"I just saw the ball in the air, and I felt like it was my turn to score again, because it was only one man coverage." Hunter said.
His performance on Saturday — three receptions for 114 yards and two touchdown — boosted his confidence in his ability to assist the team.
"I think my performance was the best I had all this year," Hunter said. "First, it was the longest touchdown I'd ever had in my career, and I was able to help the team out."