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Travis Hunter taking his own path to college stardom

Travis Hunter
Travis Hunter

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - When it came down to his final decision, Travis Hunter did what he felt was best for his future.

Despite a lengthy commitment to Florida State, despite continued overtures from Georgia, what felt like the right choice for the No. 1 prospect in the 2022 class was to do something completely different, something completely unprecedented.

“I want to determine my own future,” Hunter said here at the Under Armour All-America Game. “I don’t want anybody to dictate what I’m going to do so I went down my own road.”

That path led to Jackson, Miss., and playing for coach Deion Sanders at Jackson State.


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Hunter's primary position is cornerback but because of his elite skills he also caught 85 passes for 1,284 yards and 12 touchdowns in his senior season. He is considered to be one of the most athletic and exciting playmakers in Rivals history dating back to 2002.

Most important to him was learning from Sanders, and being taught the cornerback position from one of the greats.

That good fortune was not something the Suwanee (Ga.) Collins Hill standout was going to pass up even if it meant shirking the chance to play on the biggest stages in college football.

“I’m going to play for one of the best to ever do it at my position,” Hunter said. “The best to ever do it at my position. I want to learn the game and I want to be great just like him.

“I knew I wanted to be just like him or even better than him so I pretty much idolized him. To be coached by him is a great opportunity.”

To play at an HBCU was also an intriguing proposition. Hunter does not have an encyclopedic knowledge of HBCU football history and really started to learn about its roots once he visited Jackson State this season. The list of players who attended those schools is incredibly long and impressive, and starts with Jerry Rice and Walter Payton.

The five-star could one day join that list - and follow those superstars to the NFL.

“It’s great for me because I have little brothers and little sisters,” Hunter said. “They all want to be just like me or be better than me so it was to show them you don’t have to go to a big college. You can go to an HBCU.

“When I first went to visit JSU that’s when I pretty much learned that history.”

Travis Hunter
Travis Hunter

Hunter did not want to hurt the Florida State fans, but he wanted to make his own choice. The five-star said he even worked on keeping Florida State’s recruiting class together because he didn’t want to leave the wrong impression.

“I made sure the commits that were there stayed with them so I didn’t finagle them or anything,” Hunter said.

The way the five-star chose Jackson State was typical Hunter - and something Sanders could only pull off, too.

The morning of National Signing Day, word started leaking out that Hunter could pull off something crazy. The night before Sanders said he was going to “shock the world” which is typical recruiting parlance but rarely happens.

There was a palpable buzz and energy in the room when Hunter started to make his announcement. He threw hats away for Georgia and Florida State. Then unzipped a sweatshirt to show a Jackson State T-shirt.

Then his mom in the crowd threw up a Jackson State hat but it would certainly not have been called a strike.

“There was no practicing,” Hunter said. “She just threw it up there.”

The five-star caught it. Of course, he did. Hunter never lets a good opportunity pass by.