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Travis Hunter

Does Travis Hunter Need To Pick Only 1 Position?

  • Justin Melo
  • September 5, 2023
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Colorado wide receiver/cornerback Travis Hunter stole the show during Week 1 of the new college football campaign. Hunter played both offense and defense throughout the Buffaloes’ thrilling and unexpected 45-42 upset victory over the 17th-ranked TCU, last year’s National Championship runner-up. Hunter may eventually have to choose between playing receiver or cornerback when going through his pre-draft process, but for now, everyone should sit back and enjoy Hunter’s rare two-way talents.

Travis Hunter totaled an astounding 129 snaps against TCU. At cornerback, Hunter logged three total tackles, an interception, and a pass breakup. Hunter’s interception was an absolute thing of beauty that showcased rare positional instincts.

TCU ran a mesh concept in the red zone near Colorado’s end zone. Mesh is a short to intermediate design that works to create natural picks/confusion for the defense. It can be especially effective when targeting the end zone from a close distance, as TCU was.

Hunter quickly sniffed out that Horned Frogs wide receiver Major Everhart was running the rail concept from the backfield, trusted his instincts to come off his man coverage responsibility, and made a diving interception. That’s a concept that’s almost never intercepted. Natural football IQ was on full display.

Hunter made a touchdown-saving tackle earlier on that drive. Plays later, he’d record his highlight-reel-worthy interception. Hunter had a pass breakup occurred during an end-zone attempt and two plays later, TCU missed a field goal. Hunter’s defensive prowess took 10 TCU points off the board.

Hunter was somehow equally as effective as a receiver. The former Jackson State Tiger recorded a team-high 11 receptions for 119 receiving yards. Hunter averaged a chain-moving 10.8 yards per catch.

Hunter’s grab-of-the-game occurred via an explosive 43-yard gain. Buffaloes quarterback Shedeur Sanders was facing a critical 3rd-and-16 from inside Colorado’s own 20-yard line. Sanders lofted up a prayer to Hunter, who had momentarily gotten behind his assignment. Hunter made an outstanding leaping reception.

Hunter’s impact as a receiver extended beyond the box score. In addition to his 11-reception, 119-yard performance, Hunter also drew a defensive pass interference penalty via an end zone target. Colorado would score a touchdown on the ensuing play.

We’re not placing limitations on Hunter’s ability. His two-way talent is to be enjoyed and further harnessed by coach Deion Sanders. Colorado is taking an unconventional approach to Hunter’s development and it appears primed to pay dividends.

When extrapolating Hunter’s first-game workload to an NFL 17-game schedule, the West Palm Beach, Florida native would be on pace for 2,448 total snaps. To put how unrealistic that is into context, the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs totaled 2,297 snaps (offense/defense) throughout the 2022 campaign. Hunter will eventually have to choose between cornerback and receiver, although reserving a couple of snaps for the other side each game should be a possibility.

It will be fascinating to monitor Hunter’s pre-draft process. NFL franchises will likely be split on his projection, with some teams primarily viewing him at receiver, and others at cornerback. Unless a decision is made in advance, Hunter may go through the NFL Scouting Combine doing drills on both sides. It’s irrelevant until that period arrives. Colorado should continue utilizing Hunter’s supreme athleticism and both offense and defense.

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Justin Melo