FORT MYERS, Fla. — For four-star defensive lineman Derick Hunter and all the other players on his team, Dunbar High School head coach Sam Brown is more than just a coach — he’s a mentor and father figure.
“That’s what I signed up for,” Brown told The Clemson Insider during our Blue Chip Road Trip stop at Dunbar on Wednesday. “I’ve got 42 kids in here. So, they know they can call on me, they can lean on me. But at the same time, they’re going to get some tough love. We’re going to have some bad days, but at the end of the day, they’re going to toe the line and they’re going to the follow the rules, and that’s what makes Dunbar special.”
Brown knows he is lucky to have a guy like Hunter on his squad. The Florida State commitment and Clemson target helps the head coach set the example for the other players on the team — not only on the field, but also in the weight room and locker room.
“He’s a super leader,” Brown said of Hunter. “He leads by example. He goes in the weight room and he puts everything on the bar and lifts it. He’s always encouraging the young guys to do what’s best. He came in with us about 195 pounds. Now he’s 285, so it shows that he’s put in a lot of hard work.”
“He’s a great teammate,” Brown added. “He’s a loving kid. He’s a kid that has high energy, always going through the whistle… But he’s a rock. He’s our guy, our foundation inside, so we’re just glad the guy’s on our team.”
Hunter has well over 30 scholarship offers and is considered one of the top defensive line prospects in the country.
However, he doesn’t act like it according to Brown. Instead of having a better-than-thou attitude, Hunter simply blends in with the rest of the bunch.
“You’ve got to get rid of all the stars. You’ve got to make sure that you’re just one of the guys, and he’s done a great job of that,” Brown said. “He’s humbled himself. He’s put in a lot of hard work and time, so that’s why he’s getting all the accolades and all the attention. So, he deserves every bit that he’s getting. But at the same time, he’s got to stay humble and stay grounded.”
Although Hunter announced a verbal commitment to FSU in June, he continues to be pursued by a number of other college programs including Clemson.
Defensive tackles coach Todd Bates is heading Hunter’s recruitment for the Tigers, and Brown has been impressed by the way he has handled the process.
“Coach Bates, he’s a great guy,” said Brown, who has accompanied Hunter to Clemson in the past. “We went up there and sat with him, met with him. He’s been very encouraging through the process. He told the kid, ‘No matter where you go, I want the best for you.’ So, that’s good words for a young man to hear when he’s got 30 offers out there and he’s kind of in a whirl-spin and trying to figure everything out. So, Coach Bates has been great with him.”
Hunter received an offer from Clemson in March and visited campus a month later before returning for another unofficial visit in June. He told TCI on Wednesday that he is planning to visit Clemson again during the upcoming season.
As a junior last season, Hunter recorded 54 total tackles including six for loss and a sack. He is ranked as the No. 278 overall prospect in the 2019 class according to the 247Sports Composite.