Originally published on Saturday, January 5, 2013
RECENT ADVOCATE ALL-AREA MVPS
• 2012: Cole Hunt, TE/DL, El Campo
• 2011: Travis Quintanilla, QB, Refugio
• 2010: Terrence Smith, Shiloh Whetsel and Draigon Silvas, RBs, Refugio
• 2009: Tyler Arndt, Cuero
• 2008: Tyler Arndt, Cuero
• 2007: Quincey Whittington, RB, Cuero
• 2006: Kyle Noack, QB, Cuero
EL CAMPO - Cole Hunt finished his El Campo career with a flourish.
The 6-foot-7, 225-pound senior excelled at tight end and defensive end for the Ricebirds.
Hunt led the El Campo in receptions with 17 for 374 yards and three touchdowns. He also had 117 tackles and a team-leading 17 sacks.
Hunt played a big role in the Ricebirds' drive to the Class 3A, Division I state championship game and was selected as the Most Valuable Player of the 2012 Victoria Advocate All-Area Football Team.
Hunt talked about El Campo's 14-1 season and his decision to commit to Rice, where he is expected to play tight end next season.
Q: You moved to El Campo from Palacios in eighth grade. What was your impression of the football program?
A: The coaches were real nice. Everyone was real disciplined. They expect to win. Winning is the main priority. When I was in eighth grade, they liked to get players in here and there, but the object was still to win the game. It was pretty intense. I liked it.
Q: Have you always been tall or did you go through a growth spurt?
A: I've always been tall. In eighth grade, I think I was 5-11 and my freshman year I went through a clumsy stage. I was like 6-2 and I kept growing. Doc (trainer Dean) Easter, I had him in a class, and he said at the beginning of the year he looked down and at the end of the year he was looking up. I haven't stopped yet.
Q: What makes coach Gillis' program so successful?
A: I think everybody buys into him. The first time I met him I just looked up to him. Even Joey (Hunt) always says he's going to be his favorite coach. I'm sure he'll still be my favorite coach. He's a great guy. He's more than a football coach. He's like a parent or another dad.
Q: What is your relationship with your brother Joey, who graduated from El Campo last year and plays football at TCU?
A: He's only 15 months older than me so he's still real close to me. He came down and we talked for a long time. We have a real close relationship.
Q: Why did you decide to commit to Rice before your senior season and is there anything that would make you change your mind?
A: I like Rice because they have three tight ends graduating and that's going to leave an open spot for me. Their tight ends coach (David Sloan) played 11 years in the NFL and I figure I can't get any better tight ends coach. I just think that coach (David) Bailiff is a real good guy. He's kind of like coach Gillis. He's real soft spoken and not a big-time loudmouth coach and it's close to home. I don't know what could change my mind. I'm never going to say never because anything could happen.
Q: When did you realize that this year's team could have a lot of success?
A: I knew with our backs Jack (Davis), Montray (Johnson) and Bryce (Brandl) we had a real good chance, especially dropping down to 3A. You've still got to show up, and that's what coach Gillis was preaching all year. Once we beat Bellville pretty soundly and the next big test was Sealy and we beat Sealy pretty well. I figured we can take this all the way.
Q: What were some of the highlights of your senior season?
A: I would say the Wharton game because it was a big-time rivalry and I had a couple of sacks in that game. Bellville was a big game because we had never played Bellville and Sealy. The (semifinal) Carthage game was probably the best game of my life. It was unbelievable. Also, going to the state game (at Cowboys Stadium). Just being there. I understand we didn't win. But I still like to look back. Like today, I was looking at my medal and I was like, "Dang, we made it and only two teams make it in our division." It was just an unbelievable feeling.
Q: What will you do the rest of the school year to stay in shape for next season?
A: I'm going to work out with Trey (Martin, who has also committed to Rice) and probably Montray and Jack. We're just going to work out real hard and lift weights on our own. El Campo runs during its fifth period on Tuesdays and Thursdays and Trey and I will go in there and run with them. I'm going to live in the weight room and try to get to 250 so I can play as a true freshman."