Bradenton (Fla.) Manatee defensive end/outside linebacker C.J. Hunnicutt has a new leader.
“I’m leaning toward Auburn right now,” he said. “They’ve really recruited me the hardest of anyone. Coach Knox has stayed on me throughout the recruiting process, and he said it looked like they were going to have an offer for me. They wanted to see one of our games at the beginning of the year before they did that.
“But I’m definitely high on them. I like the idea of playing relatively close to home, in the South. The SEC is a great conference, and Auburn has got some great talent right now.”
Hunnicutt (6-2, 215, 4.65) has offers from Iowa, Iowa State and Pittsburgh. He said the Panthers are also recruiting him intensely. However, it may take some doing to get him out of his part of the country.
“Those are great schools and good teams, but they’re just so far away,” he said. “I’m not big on the idea of going so far north.”
But one Midwest program may be an exception to that rule. Hunnicutt said Ohio State has shown steady interest and would grab his attention with a scholarship offer.
“You’ve got to think about them,” he said, “being national champs and all. That’s just a great program. They play great defense. Plus, I know Lydell Ross from Gaither (High School) pretty well. He’s up there.
Miami has also shown interest in Hunnicutt, but not on the level of the other schools. His favorite program growing up was Florida, but the Gators have not followed through with him.
Hunnicutt, who recorded 62 tackles and 22 sacks as a junior to earn Class 5A all-state honors, recently participated in the Down & Dirty Camp for linemen. Although he was placed in a group of players who weighed 280 and higher, he came away with one of the coaches’ awards for his performance.
“I did alright,” he said. “I’m trying to bulk up another 15-20 pounds, though, for this season.”
Academically, Hunnicutt maintains a 3.14 GPA and has scored an 890 on the SAT and a 15 on the ACT. He projects as a full-qualifier, but will take his SAT again in hopes of breaking the 1,000 mark.