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On Nov. 15, Eric Hunter III received the call he had waited for his whole life.
Hunter III, a senior running back and safety at Amador Valley, never grew up wanting 50 offers. He never wanted 100 offers.
All he wanted was one.
And he got that first offer from Black Hills State.
“I literally just need one coach to believe in me so I can take my talents to the next level,” Hunter III said. “Getting that first one, that was amazing. Him telling me that they believed in me and they wanted to offer me, that was an amazing feeling.”
As soon as that offer came in, Hunter III was ecstatic – and there were a couple of people he would call immediately.
His mother, Judy. He called his sisters.
The celebration was on.
“They were super excited,” Hunter III said. “My Mom came home and made a fat steak dinner for me with some potatoes, so she hooked the boy up. She was excited.”
That relationship with his mother has been everything.
Growing up, Judy Hunter raised Eric Hunter III and his siblings as a single mother. And despite everything that could pop up in life – long hours of work – she always found a way to support the family every step of the way.
Even if she missed games, she would call Eric Hunter III at halftime. Or she would text him. Anything she could to show she was there for him.
“I feel like day in and day out it’s just my Mom honestly,” Eric Hunter III said. “I know that I continued to play football for her, to just I know how happy it made me as a little kid and I know how happy it made her to be able to come out to my games and get all team colored decked out and come out and support me, so that really helped push me as a young kid, but now that I’m a little bit older it’s still the same thing.”
While Judy Hunter watched her son play, his production on the football field was noticed from a young age and provided glimpses of what would eventually come when he stepped onto the Amador Valley football field.
Eric Hunter III had a coach on defense who noticed his energy and speed, and he had a special nickname for the soon-to-be Dons sensation.
“I would just run around so fast, having so much energy, and he would just be like, ‘That’s my demon.’ That’s what he would call me on the field, and I don’t know, him just saying that about me, I know little demon sounds like kind of weird, but him saying that about me on the football field really pushed me to actually want to pursue football and play it more often,” Eric Hunter III said.
Last year with Amador Valley, Hunter III did it all on the gridiron.
Originally a receiver to start the year, he finished with 211 receiving yards and three scores. But the staff moved him to running back, where he stockpiled the numbers again to the tune of 833 rushing yards and six touchdowns.
However, that was only part of his dominance.
Hunter III took two kickoffs to the house. He had three interceptions, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery on defense.
East Bay Athletic League Valley Division coaches awarded him with first team all-league honors at running back and safety, joining Dublin’s Nick Costello, fellow Amador Valley teammate Josh Heverly and Granada’s Tyler Morano as the only players in the division to earn all-league recognition on both sides of the ball.
“Helped me tremendously,” Hunter III said. “I feel like that just showed me how capable I am of like actually playing football and actually like making something of it, so both those awards helped me a lot this past year mentally.”
The growth from then to now has shown two different versions of Eric Hunter III.
Although COVID-19 shook up the training landscape – indoor workouts at gyms in Alameda County closed again with the new guidelines – he’s found ways to add to his skillset by working out at friends and teammates houses.
“Pre-COVID offseason Eric and this offseason Eric is like a totally different person,” Eric Hunter III said. “Like COVID I feel like it shaped me to be so much more mentally tough. I feel like I had to really sit there and tell myself that I want to be great because I know that’s what I want to do, so I have to really force myself to get out onto the field and like really force myself to get out into the weight room or do these things to make sure I’m better than my opponents that I go up against.”
There is no set timetable for when Eric Hunter III will commit to school, as he is just taking it one day at a time and focusing on the present.
Right now, he’s gearing up for a special senior season, which will now feature him as a full-time running back in addition to his all-around game at safety and on special teams.
“For myself, I honestly didn’t even start playing running back until week five, so I was at receiver for most of those first couple weeks, and I still had I think like 850 yards or something like that rushing,” Eric Hunter III said. “So if I’m going to be playing running back the entire season, I plan to have maybe at least 1,200, 1,100 yards. I want to at least get into the double-digit touchdowns. I fell just short of that this year I think, so I want to get maybe 10, 11 touchdowns.
“As a team, I know we’re ready. I know we’re going to be ready as a team. I’m so excited for this. Our defense is going to come out so electric. We have so many returners, and our offense is just full of weapons, so I’m just excited to see what we can do as a team honestly. That’s basically it. I just know our defense. I’m so excited about this upcoming season.”
Wow son mom is so proud of you ❤️🙏🏽
Eric, I’m so very proud of you, keep pushing for greatness!!!❤❤❤❤
Great article but I knew how great this kid and his family was since way back in his little league days!! Cant wait to watch this year in football and his future in the sport!!
Yessss, good job 👏 👍 👌 🙌 💪
That’s whats up Lil E….so proud of you wishing you many more blessings along the way!!! Keep striving and perfecting your kraft!!!
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