Neshoba Central’s Jarquez Hunter and his drive to be the best
PHILADELPHIA, Miss. (WTOK) - When Jarquez Hunter steps onto the football field on Friday nights, he plays with the mindset that no one is better than him.
“I don’t want anybody to beat me. I don’t want to be number two at anything," Hunter said. "I want to be number one at everything so when I step on the field, I’m gonna beat you in everything I do.”
While it’s easy for an athlete to say they want to be great, it’s another thing to speak it into existence. Neshoba Central head coach Patrick Schoolar has seen firsthand though how hard Hunter has worked to achieve greatness.
“I don’t think he’s missed five workouts in four years, and five may be a high number really," Schoolar said. "He’s the best football player in Mississippi – best overall football player. I’ll argue with anybody on that comment because he’ll play defense, he’ll play offense, he’ll play special teams and he can beat you in all three phases.”
Hunter’s explosiveness and knack for finding open gaps in the run game has helped him generate big time numbers. Last season, he ran for 2,008 yards and had 38 total touchdowns. As a linebacker, he had 72 tackles with 10 for loss to go along with seven sacks.
The senior’s stats and film have grabbed the attention of several big time programs. He’s received offers from over a dozen schools including Auburn, Ole Miss and Tennessee.
“I called a couple schools for him and they didn’t really know him, but they’ll text back within 20 minutes and say ‘Coach we didn’t know about this kid. We gotta sign this kid now,'" Schoolar said.
When asked to name a football player he grew up admiring, Hunter was quick to respond with a Mississippi native who also played running back.
“I used to want to be like Walter Peyton...I love the way he plays," Hunter recalled. "He was such a physical player. He wasn’t that big but was physical and played with a lot of heart.”
While Hunter said he aspires to one day make it to the NFL so he can provide for his family, he is focused on the short term goal of bringing a 5A State Championship to Neshoba Central.
“I’ve never won a state championship in anything," Hunter said. "Neshoba Central has never won a state championship (in football) so it would be a big deal if we won the championship this year because it would be the first one ever.”
With Hunter graduating in the spring, Coach Schoolar said he will miss the running back’s selflessness and drive to always want to be better.
“Yeah he’s our best player. That’s kind of known but he doesn’t act like that," Schoolar said. “He goes to work every day. He’s never like ‘I’m gonna sit out today because I’m tired’ or 'I’m going to take today off because I can because I’m the best player’. Every day he comes to work."
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