Vols Drafted: Hunter To Titans; Thomas To Dolphins

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New York – Tennessee All-American wide receiver Justin Hunter was selected in the second round, 34th overall, in the 2013 NFL Draft by the Tennessee Titans. Hunter becomes the 332nd Tennessee product selected, and the 29th taken in the second round.

Hunter joins fellow Vol Cordarrelle Patterson, a first-round draft pick by the Minnesota Vikings, as selections in 2013. Hunter is the 32nd Tennessee receiver selected in an NFL Draft.

The last time the Vols had multiple receivers selected in a draft was in 1998 when Marcus Nash was taken in the first round by the Denver Broncos and Andy McCullough was selected by the New Orleans Saints in the seventh round.

The last time the Vols had two receivers taken in the first two round was in 1983 when Willie Gault went to the Chicago Bears in the first round and Darryal Wilson was taken by the New England Patriots in Round 2.

The Vols’ 332 selections stand as the seventh-most of any program. Hunter is the first selection by the in-state Titans since Jesse Mahelona was taken in the fifth round in 2006.

Tennessee traded a third-round pick in 2014 and a seventh-round pick this year to the 49ers to move up six spots to #34 overall. Hunter, one of most athletically-gifted players in this year’s draft class, was projected by many to be a first-round pick.

He hauled in a career-high 73 passes last season, the second-highest total by a Volunteer in a campaign. Hunter also became only the seventh player in school history to generate 1,000 receiving yards in a season (1,083), producing the third-best campaign ever by a Volunteer. His nine touchdown grabs are tied with such standouts like Joey Kent (1995), Jermaine Copeland (1997) and Denarius Moore (2010) for seventh on Tennessee’s annual record chart.

Hunter’s clutch receiving helped the Volunteers rank second in the league and 15th in the nation with an aerial attack that averaged 315.58 yards per game.

Hunter appeared in 28 games during his three-year career at Tennessee, starting 17 contests. He hauled in 106 passes for 1,812 yards (17.0 ypc) and 18 touchdowns, scoring 108 points as he returned four punts for 21 yards, recorded a solo tackle and blocked a kick.

His 1,812 receiving yards rank 11th on the school career-record list. Despite starting just 17 times, his eight 100-yard receiving performances tied Tim McGee (1982-85) and Peerless Price (1995-98) for third all-time by a Volunteer, topped by only Joey Kent (15; 1993-96) and Marcus Nash (11; 1994-97). His 18 touchdown receptions tied Cory Fleming (1990-93) and Denarius Moore (2007-10) for fifth on the school career-record chart, surpassed by Joey Kent (25), Cedrick Wilson (24; 1997-2000), Marcus Nash (20) and Peerless Price (19).

The only player in school history to catch more passes in a season was Marcus Nash (76 in 1997), as Hunter matched Lucas Taylor (73 in 2007) for the second spot on the Vols’ annual list. Robert Meachem (71 in 2006) is the only other Tennessee player to reach 70 receptions for a season.

The seventh player in school history to gain over 1,000 receiving yards in a campaign, his 1,083 yards rank third on the school annual record chart, surpassed by Robert Meachem (1,298 in 2006) and Marcus Nash (1,170 in 1997).

Hunter’s nine touchdown grabs tied Da’Rick Rogers (2011), Denarius Moore (2010), Jermaine Copeland (1997) and Joey Kent (1995) for seventh on the Tennessee season-record list. His four games with at least 100 yards receiving also tied for seventh on the UT annual record book.

Offensive lineman Dallas Thomas was the third Tennessee product selected in the 2013 NFL Draft as he was taken in the third round by the Miami Dolphins with the 77th overall selection.

He joined Cordarrelle Patterson (29th overall to Minnesota) and Justin Hunter (34th to Tennessee) as the Vols had a pick in each of the first three rounds of the draft. The last time the Vols had selections in the first, second and third rounds was 2007. It is in the seventh time the Vols have had selections in the first three rounds (also in 2007, 2000, 1999, 1994, 1992, 1983).

Thomas is the 333rd all-time Vol to be selected.

“I was always interested in playing guard because we always had a little competition with the guys over could a tackle play guard,” Thomas said. “The guards would get mad saying it’s not as easy as you think it is but it was nothing. It’s my dream to start and I hope to get in and compete and go from there.”

Thomas was honored as a third-team All-American by CBSSports.com and a fourth-team selection by Phil Steele. He was also invited to the Senior Bowl.

The Baton Rouge, La., native was also a second-team All-SEC pick by the Associated Press and SEC Coaches. He helped the Vols to one of the nation’s top offensive lines in 2012, playing at left guard. The Vols’ offensive line allowed just eight sacks, the fewest in the SEC and fourth-fewest per game (0.67) in the NCAA.

With Thomas, Tennessee racked up 475.9 yards of offense per game to rank 20th in the nation and 315.6 yards of passing offense to list 15th overall. Tennessee had five games with 500-plus yards of total offense, the most by UT since 1997. That included a school-record 718 yards of total offense against Troy.

Thomas started the final 37 games of his college career including all 12 as a left at left guard in 2012. The previous 25 came at left tackle in his sophomore and junior season.

Courtesy UT Media Relations

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