Every Thursday, We'll be talking about a player from the opposing team that is worth paying attention to. He may not be the face of the program, but he can play football. If you’re listening to the radio for some reason (which you shouldn’t have to do, now that we’re in the SEC), you’ll hear Dave South call him "That Guy." This is That Guy.
We all know who Garrett Gilbert is, and are aware of his long storied journey through college football. And most of us will have heard of Zach Line, the heart of June Jones’ very good offense. But this week That Guy is Estonian Robot Beast Margus Hunt.
Hunt (6'8", 280lbs) grew up in Karksi-Nuia, Estonia throwing hammers because there "wasn't much else to do." (Also discus and shotput, but "hammers" sounds the coolest.) He competed successfully in Europe in the Junior Championships (he currently holds the world junior record in discus), then moved to the U.S. to train at SMU. By the time he had enrolled, however, they had dropped men's track. The coach told him to try out for football, and the rest is history.
Hunt is a very capable defensive end. He’s earned honorable mention all-conference accolades in each of his first three seasons, and his performance in the BBVA Compass Bowl last December was dominant:
Margus Hunt vs Pittsburgh (via MetaDraft)
Judging by their first two games this year, it's possible that Pitt has still not recovered from the havoc he caused in Birmingham. Remember, That Guy never any played football until 2009. But it's another aspect of his game that makes him really outstanding.
Margus Hunt has blocked 15 kicks so far in his career, including two extra points against us last year. He has a chance to tie or break the NCAA career record of 19 total blocked kicks set by James Ferebee of New Mexico State from 1978–1981. What makes this feat even more impressive is that Hunt is a lineman. Most of the time your aggregate kick block leaders are quick defensive backs coming off the edge that can also block punts, but Hunt's total comes only from placed kicks. He does it the hard way: get in the middle, push the line back with raw power, and get his huge wingspan up in the kicking lane. But he makes it look easy.