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Cal Football

Hunter Ready to Make an Impact at WR

May 17, 2022

The cornerstone of the Bears youthful and talented receiving corps coming into the 2022 season, 6-2/200 redshirt soph receiver Jeremiah Hunter is the leading returning receiver this season. The former 4 star prep from Central High School in Fresno, strongly considered Oregon before choosing the Bears in the spring of his junior season.

Hunter was injured in his 2020 frosh season and didn’t play. He played in eight games in 2021, including one start and hauled in 21 receptions for 388 yards, averaging an impressive 18.5 yards per catch.

All spring, Hunter looked like a new receiver, hauling in every ball thrown his way and playing with physicality off the line of scrimmage.

What’s led to the stellar play and high level of excecution?

“I just think it’s my confidence,” said Hunter. “I was hurt my freshman year, so I have been just taking all that in. Just reading the defenses with BT (Coach Burl Toler III). BT has been breaking down the defenses.

“In high school, I knew how to release and all that came natural to me but reading defenses helps a lot and it can determine my route, so I feel like me being hurt allowed me to break everything down and learn the offense as well, too. I feel like over time my confidence is growing and I feel like you can see that now.” 

Redshirt junior QB Jack Plummer earlier noted that he and Hunter have a unique connection and sometimes the talented receiver will break off his routes, knowing that the veteran quarterback is able to detect seams in the defense they both can exploit.

“We do it naturally and that’s what’s funny cause we just met this year,” said Hunter. “We feel like we have a connection. I am still working on it sometimes on digs and stuff. Sometimes he looks for that second window, and sometimes I break off. We’re still trying to get like that. Most of the time we’re on point with that and I love him for that. We just feel like we have a little connection going.” 

Cal receivers Coach Burl Toler played a big role in Hunter’s signing with Cal but the groundwork was laid before Toler made his return back to Cal in 2019 when he started recruiting Hunter as a young prep player.

“The funny thing is, during my recruiting process when I was younger -probably sophomore year- he was at Fresno State, he was recruiting me,” said Hunter. “He was just talking about Fresno, and I was like how do you know about Fresno? It’s crazy how we’ve been so connected like it’s a small world. He’s just real down to earth and I feel like you probably won’t get that anywhere else. He’ll talk to you like he’s known you forever and I feel like that’s a great attribute to have. He treats you like family and I am a big family guy. So he has my heart. I’m going to do anything for him, and he knows that, so I just love him for it and I know he has my back.” 

Under Toler, the wide receiver unit is a tight-knit group who knows they’re all a part of Toler’s extended family.

“We had Easter at his house,” said Hunter. “He had his family and friends come over and we were just all together. We were acting like we knew each other for years. That’s just the guy BT is, and we love him for it.” 

Did the receivers have an Easter Egg hunt like the offensive linemen have been known to do?

“No, it was just for the kids,” said Hunter with a smile. “When we got there, weren’t any eggs out, but I was sure he was going to do it. I’m sure he was going to do it if he had enough, for sure.” 

Hunter speaks glowingly of his receiving corps and highly-anticipates what they’ll be able to accomplish this season.

“We have a lot of energetic guys and goofy guys I feel like,” said Hunter. “On the field, we have speed. You can see J Mike (J.Michael Sturdivant), J Bake (Justin Baker) are real fast. You got Mason Mangum, you have a lot of people with speed and we have people that can go get it. I can go get it, J Bake can go get it sometimes, JMike can get it. We’ve got a mixture… Tommy (Christakos) -for sure, Tommy. Tommy and Trond (Trond Grizzell). I feel like we got a mixture of speed and people that can go get it. So I feel like we have that on the field and that’s why we feel like we’re firestarters.

“Most of Tommy’s are jump balls. With Tommy or something like that will get us going, we got speed with the crossing routes with Mavin (Anderson) so I feel like we have a lot of talent. And off the field, we spend a lot of time with BT. We just talk about whatever life or talk about on the field, or football teams, it could be about whatever. We just take the time out to try to get to know each other. BT says take time off the field to get together and bond with your teammates, I feel like if you do that it will be easier to communicate on the field and that brings us all together and it holds us to a standard that we have.” 

“Sometimes we go bowling. We have our own group chat, so we just talk in there to see what people are up to and what they’re doing on the weekend or whatever. Sometimes we come up here and catch.” 

Asked about the competition between QBs Plummer and Kai Millner, Hunter wasn’t calling any favorites.

“I feel like they both look solid,” said Hunter. “There’s a nice competitive room in there and they’re doing the best they can to lead us. They have great energy, and I don’t think there’s a drop-off of any of them coming into the game, so I love them both. I can’t wait to see what happens.” 

As for expectations for the 2022 seasons for the receiving corps and the team overall, Hunter noted:

“We can accomplish anything. We were barely losing games last year so I feel like we’ve just got to figure out how to win those close games. We just have to lock in.

“Everyone beat each other last year. There is no powerhouse, it’s open. We just have to put our part together and our minds together and do what we got to do.”  

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