Neshoba Central’s Jarquez Hunter signs with Auburn

Published: Feb. 6, 2021 at 1:18 AM CST
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PHILADELPHIA, Miss. (WTOK) - After four years of wearing a Neshoba Central jersey, the day finally arrived for senior running back Jarquez Hunter to decide which jersey he would be wearing next.

In the center of the school’s gymnasium was a long table with five hats on display. Those five hats represented one of the schools Hunter would be continuing his football career at.

After opening remarks from athletic director Tommy Holland, all eyes were on Hunter. The gymnasium was silent until Hunter reached for the Auburn hat in front of him, stood up and placed it on his head.

An eruption of cheering broke out while a smile fell across Hunter’s face.

“It was very exciting. I knew when they offered me I pretty much was going to go there,” Hunter said. “I was happy all day today and just very excited.”

Neshoba Central head football coach Patrick Schoolar took Hunter on his first visit to Auburn back in 2019.

“When we went over there for the first time and came back he knew,” Schoolar said. “We got in the truck – him, myself, two more football players and my wife - and you could just tell when they offered him it was over with.”

Auburn is a program Hunter grew up admiring, specifically during the Cam Newton era.

“I’ve just always liked them. Ever since I was a little. I liked them a lot when Cam Newton was there,” Hunter said. “The reason why I liked them so much was because of him and how good of a player he was. It’s just always been my dream to go there.”

Hunter will be coached by former Auburn All-American Cadillac Williams, who was picked 5th overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2005. He is hoping to be the next great running back to come out of Auburn and represent the Tigers in the NFL.

“Auburn not only produces great players but great running backs,” Hunter said. “I’ve got a chance to go in there and compete, try and get a spot and play a little bit this upcoming season.”

In his four years as a starter for Neshoba Central, Hunter helped breathe new life into the program. The Rockets went from winning four games Hunter’s freshman year to making it all the way to the semifinals of the playoffs last season.

Neshoba Central hasn’t had a football player go to a Power 5 school since the 90s. Hunter is honored to be the first player in a while to go on and represent the Rockets at such a prominent football program.

“It feels good,” Hunter said. “There haven’t been too many people that have done this at Neshoba Central so I feel pretty proud of myself that I did it.”

Coach Schoolar said Hunter won’t be the last big talent to come out of Neshoba Central, but him and the rest of the coaching staff will remember him and the impact he had on the program.

“This is a great deal,” assistant coach Shannon Ruffin said. “This is one of the biggest signings I’ve ever been part of which is a testament to the type of player Jarquez Hunter is.”

Hunter leaves Neshoba Central with a laundry list of accomplishments including rushing for over 6,000 yards, scoring 100 touchdowns and being named Mr. Football for MHSAA Class 5A.

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