The NFL’s eligibility rules mandate that players be three years removed from their graduating high school class before being able to turn pro, but that rule simply stinks for a select handful of players. Specifically, through the years, we probably could have seen players like Adrian Peterson, Andrew Luck, Trevor Lawrence, and Caleb Williams make an early jump to the NFL, but that obviously never happened. And frankly, it didn’t/hasn’t worked out too bad for any of those guys. The same brutal wait for star athlete Travis Hunter is well underway.
Travis Hunter is one of the most unique football prospects in all of college football, and he’ll be playing for head coach Deion Sanders at Colorado this fall (as a sophomore). Hunter was the consensus top prospect in the 2022 recruiting class as either a wide receiver or a cornerback, legitimately considered a blue-chip player at either position.
Hunter made a slightly shocking decision near the end of 2021 to commit to play at Jackson State where “Coach Prime” had been making a huge name for himself. Of course, when Deion got the opportunity to go coach in Boulder, Hunter was one of the first players to enter the portal and go along with him.
And could there be a more fitting coach for this particular kid? Deion Sanders could have played receiver or corner at a high level. We know he was a tremendous athlete across multiple sports, hitting .263 as a Major League Baseball player over a nine-year, 641-game career. Travis Hunter may not be stealing 186 bases anytime soon as a Major League Baseball player, but he’s certainly got the best possible coach for his skill set.
Coming out of high school, Hunter was compared to Charles Woodson, another elite athlete who starred as a cornerback, receiver, and return specialist before adding elite safety to the list as an older NFL player.
"A generational type of talent. Legitimately CB1 and WR1 for the class of 2022. Makes everything he does look extremely easy. Smooth. Explosive. Competitive. At times it seems like he’s almost a human cheat code as he’s always making the highlight reel play at the right time…Will play on Sundays if there are no set backs and has a chance to be selected Day 1 of the NFL Draft if he keeps progressing.247 Sports (Andrew Ivins)"
There are a lot of lofty expectations being heaped upon Hunter. He was the no. 1 overall prospect in his class who had a tremendous freshman year at Jackson State. Now, playing at Colorado, he’s going to get the chance to go up against even better competition and play under an even brighter spotlight.
So far, so good…
So the question has to be asked — can this guy play both ways in the NFL?
You don’t really see it happen very often, although some players have absolutely tried it, but not on a full-time basis. Adoree Jackson did it for the Titans. We’ve seen JJ Watt play some tight end in the past. Mike Vrabel was once a linebacker/red zone weapon for the Patriots. Champ Bailey tried his hand a number of times at playing receiver.
We’re going to have to wait at least a year to find out where the NFL is projecting Hunter, but if he’s able to carve out a substantial role for Colorado on both sides of the ball, it’s not impossible to think he could be an asset to NFL teams on either side of the ball.