Derick “Rambo” Hunter is one of the most interesting recruits to talk to in the 2019 cycle. Or any cycle.
With a nickname like Rambo on his profile, how could he not be?
Hunter rates as the nation’s No. 14 strong-side defensive end for 2019 on the 247Sports composite. He will be at G-Day this weekend.
His plans could place him there as early as Friday. He also plans an announcement shortly after G-Day.
He told DawgNation that he’ll focus on eight schools on April 25. Look for him to whittle those to five in September.
Those will be his official visits.
“Those will the five schools where I will put their hats on the table,” he said.
The Dunbar High (Fort Myers, Fla.) standout hopes to still check off his dream of making his commitment during an All-America game. But he needs an invite for that.
If not, he could adjust that timeline.
Hunter looks forward to his first trip to UGA.
“I still feel that type of way about Georgia,” he said. “I just want to get up there. I’m hungry to get up there and see what it is like, you know? When you are down here in Florida, it is hard to get up to Athens. It is hard. So that’s why I can’t wait to get up there this weekend for G-Day.”
What Hunter hopes to see from his trip to G-Day
Hunter will be looking for impressions of Georgia this week. He plans to make a few, but also leave some behind.
“I just want to get a good feeling,” he said. “Get on campus. Get the feel of being at Georgia. Being around the players. Building a relationship up. I want that Georgia brotherhood to welcome me in as a little brother. I want to see what the academic side of the school is like.”
If you see him, feel free to say hello.
“I try to treat everyone the same,” Hunter said. “I remember when I was just that ordinary person nobody wanted to meet. Because I remember when I wanted to meet the players I admired growing up and realize how much it would’ve meant to me to meet them.
“It would be great to give that type of feeling to someone else or some other kid.”
He will have a list of things to check out.
“I want to see the fans come alive in the stadium,” Hunter said. “I just want to see the support from all Georgia fans. Georgia has a wonderful fan base. You see it and hear about it. I want to experience that. It will be awesome to see all the fans coming out to the stadium and supporting the team.”
Georgia contacts him frequently. Defensive line coach Tray Scott has built a strong relationship.
“Coach Scott and I were talking just the other day,” Hunter said. “We really just talk to each other now. It is really hard for me to open up with coaches. But now that I have got that opening-up-process out of the way with Coach Scott everything comes easy. I can talk to Coach Scott about anything.”
He said he connects best with Scott and the other coaches at UGA.
“Coach [Kirby] Smart will send me some pictures from when they are at practice and it is crazy,” Hunter said. “I just want to know what those boys are doing right then and stuff like that.”
The first time Tray Scott saw Derick Hunter’s film
Hunter uses the word “hilarious” to describe Scott. He will get messages from him at all hours.
“He will preach a lot of stuff to me,” Hunter said. “Some coaches will be like, ‘C’mon man. C’mon and play for me,’ but my conversations with him are about life. We don’t talk about the same stuff I do with other coaches. It is always about more than football.”
The story of the first time Scott saw Hunter’s film is insightful.
“He said he wanted me so bad,” Hunter said. “But he didn’t come at me with the ‘I can get you to the NFL’ stuff. He was like, ‘Bro, I saw your film and watched one play and turned it off,’ and said, ‘Who is this kid? Where can I find this kid? Why have we yet to offer this kid?’ and was just being real with me.”
Scott soon asked to speak with his father. No coach had done that. When that conversation was over, it wasn’t long before his father told him he could commit to UGA.
The UGA staff values his versatility. Hunter rates as a defensive end prospect, but projects to play inside at his size.
“He approached me that he had never seen a defensive tackle built like me who could move like me,” Hunter said. “Built like me. Move like me. Versatile like me. He said with my body type I don’t know where I am going to be in a few years or what position I will play. He said I don’t know that yet, but he said you also don’t know yet how good you are going to be.
“Coach Scott said if somebody was to teach me how to play those positions the right way, then that would be when I will know how good I’m going to be. He wanted to be that guy.”
Rambo has another mission this weekend: figure out Kirby Smart.
“I like to figure out head coaches,” he said. “I love getting to know those guys. There are going to be a lot of changes wherever I go during my college years. A lot of new coaches. Assistant coaches. Defensive coordinators. But that head coach is not likely to change.
“Kirby Smart is a guy that is probably going to stick there for a long time. Everybody knows about Nick Saban. They have already figured him out. I want to try and figure out Kirby Smart — how he relates to his players. I need to see those answers.”
Recent visits for Derick ‘Rambo’ Hunter
Hunter said he has a good grasp of seven of the schools that will make his top 8. He plans to drop that in September.
Will Georgia make that top 8?
“We’ll see,” Hunter said. “I’m still working on it right now. But that’s a no-brainer, kinda.”
Hunter told DawgNation that he’s been to Florida and Miami recently. The Gators are major contenders and it seems like he also has a strong bond with defensive line coach Sal Sunseri.
He was back at Florida, a frequent trip, last week for the spring game. He de-committed from Miami in December. That was before he picked up his UGA offer in February. Rambo shared his opinion about those two schools.
“Those were OK,” he said. “I’m getting used to all of it. I’ve seen a lot of the stuff at those schools before. I want to get up to Georgia now and see something different than what I’m used to seeing.”
He said Florida recruits him the way UGA does.
“I will be honest with you,” Hunter said. “I’ve got a lot of schools talking to me. I’ve got some schools that do recruit me harder than Georgia, but there is still something about Georgia.”
Hunter is a candid and refreshing interview. Some reporters feel he is good at telling fan bases what they want to hear. That might be the case, but this time was different.
He still communicated very well, but there was a burden to his thoughts. It might cause him to alter his timeline.
“We still feel great about Georgia, but all these schools hitting me up every day makes me feel a little shaky about the process, too,” he said. “Georgia is a special place. We already know that at the end of the day.”
Recruiting process takes a toll
Which school will it be? The process is wearing on him.
“Every school tells me the same thing,” Hunter said. “That’s how the recruiting process is. I just want to wrap my mind around everything so I can figure out what is best for me. It has gotten a lot more stressful since the last time we talked. Every school is hitting me up. Every single day. At the end of the day, you have different people telling you different stuff.”
Hunter said that one school reached out to him in the middle of that statement.
“I’m basically in the stress part of the recruiting right now,” he said. “I am kind of waiting for the recruitment to end. There are some days where I want to commit and then move on from there.”
That All-America invitation, or lack thereof, might alter his timeline.
“When I get that invite, it is going to mean so much to me,” Hunter said. “I’ve been thinking about that since I was a little kid. If I get that invite, I can hold off. Because I can wait for the game. You feel me? If I had to wait right now without the invite, it is going to be hard. I’m going to be itching. I’m going to be scratching myself to wait and it will be hurting.”
He still plans to take his official visits in the fall. The old-school way. Hunter will not enroll early. He wants to set new powerlifting records at his high school during his senior year.
His best lift is 350 pounds in the bench press.