WHO: Charleston Southern (6-0) at VMI (1-4)
WHEN: Saturday, 1:30 p.m.
WHERE: Lexington, Va.
Charleston Southern’s Will Hunt has seen “the good, the bad and the ugly” of Buccaneers football. Hunt technically was a part of CSU’s last winning football team, though he redshirted the 2009 season when the Buccaneers won their last four games to finish 6-5. In the next three seasons, Hunt lived a nightmare in terms of success on the gridiron.
In 2010, CSU finished 3-8. Then came the disaster that was the 2011 season, an 0-11 record. In 2012, the Buccaneers started slowly again but rallied to finish at 5-6.
Hunt graduated with a degree in business last May and could have entered the real world to begin his dream of opening an apparel store. However, Hunt had a year of eligibility remaining and decided to work on his Master’s degree and play one final season in search of the type of success that he could be proud of.
Midway through the 2013 season, it’s safe to say that Hunt, an impressive 6-5, 253-pound defensive end, made a good decision.
Charleston Southern enters Saturday’s Big South Conference opener against VMI with a 6-0 record and is ranked nationally (No. 25 among FCS teams) for only the second time in school history.
“It’s pretty unbelievable to think we were 0-11 two years ago and now we’re undefeated,” Hunt said.
“I think back to two years ago and how hard we worked every single day but had nothing to show for it on Saturday. I don’t work any harder now than I did then, but that’s how the game is.
“Every football team works hard every week, all summer long, but only a few get to enjoy the success. I am trying to enjoy every minute of it. I have learned to appreciate the wins for sure.”
Not only is CSU having a good year, but Hunt is having his best season as a college player. He ranks among the leaders in sacks with five in the Big South Conference and is a true leader, according to head coach Jamey Chadwell, on this year’s team.
“The guys on this team have tremendous respect for Will because they see how hard he works and how much this means to him,” said Chadwell, who helped recruit Hunt to CSU before leaving to become the head coach at North Greenville.
“Here’s a young man that could have graduated and said, ‘This is enough for me.’ He chose to return for one more year because he wanted one more shot. We (the coaching staff) are sure glad he did because he is a tremendous leader for our young football team.
“Some of these young guys, they are 6-0 and they don’t know about losing. But Will has seen the worst, and he tells these guys every day to play like it’s your last play and enjoy every success you can. You can really see that he is enjoying himself in every practice and in every game.”
Hunt has learned over the years not to look too far ahead when it comes to football. As soon as you think you have it under control, the walls can cave in. CSU needs one more victory to clinch a winning season and if the Bucs can win two more games, it will match the total of wins that Hunt experienced in his last three seasons combined. But Hunt maintains a “next play” mentality.
“I don’t think about the past anymore and I don’t get too caught up in what lies ahead. I just want to play this season as hard as I can and enjoy it as much as I can because I know the end for me is coming,” said Hunt. “All the tough things that I went through during those first few years, it made me hungry. I won’t lie, it sure feels nice to win, but those losses helped me grow as a player and as a man.”
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