Hunter shines as FSU's nickel

September, 19, 2012
9/19/12
10:20
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Through three weeks, Tyler Hunter has largely managed to slip under the radar.

It's not that Hunter hasn't made an impact as Florida State's new nickel corner. It's just that so much of that impact has been measured by what hasn't happened.

"He hasn't had a lot of notoriety because when you cover somebody you don't make tackles because they don't throw to you," Jimbo Fisher said.

Look no further than last week's win over Wake Forest for proof of Hunter's impact.

Just one week after Wake Forest slot receiver Michael Campanaro hauled in 13 passes for 163 yards against North Carolina, he virtually disappeared as Hunter shadowed him across the middle of the field.

Campanaro ended the game with just two catches for eight yards -- numbers that do a much better job of highlighting Hunter's work than his own stat line, which includes just five tackles through three games.

"It's what he's eliminated," Fisher said. "Having him in the slot, the ability to run and he's very physical and tackles well. He's done a really nice job."

His numbers may not speak volumes, but Hunter's teammates have taken notice.

"He's taking control of that slot guy," safety Lamarcus Joyner said. "That allows a lot of free time for those safeties back there to stick their nose in other people's business."

Hunter has made an impression with his voice, too.

A high school teammate of former FSU cornerback Greg Reid, Hunter has picked up the mantle as one of the vocal leaders in the secondary after Reid was dismissed from the team last month.

"It feels like Greg Reid is out there on the field," Joyner said. "He's bringing that same energy, same passion, and he's fitting in the system really good."

Florida State didn't employ nickel coverage often against Clemson with an injury-depleted secondary a year ago, but that could change this season, Fisher said.

The heavy lifting when it comes to star wideouts Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins will still rest on the starting corners -- Xavier Rhodes and Nick Waisome -- but Hunter's prepped to do the dirty work underneath.

"I'm not nervous," Hunter said. "It's football, I just take it like it's what I love to do, it's what I'm best at. I just try to go out there and do my best and we'll see if it's good enough."

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