Phillip Hunt made quite an impression during training camp and the preseason. Hunt, Philadelphia Eagles defensive end, did an outstanding job of playing the run as well as rushing the passer.
When the Eagles face the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, Sept. 9 at Cleveland Browns Stadium (1 p.m. FOX Channel 29), he should be a part of the defensive rotation. Hunt had 10 total and seven solo tackles and 3.5 sacks during the preseason. Andy Reid, Eagles head coach, will have a number of defensive ends that could help his defense with Hunt, Jason Babin, Trent Cole, Darryl Tapp and Brandon Graham. He could actually have six defensive ends active.
“We could do that,” Reid said. “We’ll see how that all works out. Five would be more realistic. You’ll see all those guys. They’ll be there. Everybody will get practice snaps there.”
Hunt has been quite a story. The 6-foot, 248-pounder, grew up in Fort Worth, Texas, where he starred at Dunbar High School. He was a two-time first-team All-District selection as a scholastic player.
He played his college football at the University of Houston from 2005 to 2008. He had a terrific college career with the Cougars. He finished as the school’s all-time leader in sacks with 34. Hunt also amassed 188 tackles, 51 tackles for loss, 17 pass breakups, six forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and one interception.
He was named Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year as a senior. He led the conference in sacks with 14 and tackles for loss with 18.5. He received all-conference honors three consecutive years from 2006-08.
Although he had a great college career, Hunt wasn’t taken by any team in the NFL draft in 2009. He had a tryout with the Cleveland Browns as a rookie free agent, but was released.
After that, Hunt decided to play professional football in Canada. He was a tremendous pass rusher in the Canadian Football League. He played for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers from 2009 to 2010. He had 19 sacks in two seasons including 16 in 2010.
In 2011, he came to the Eagles where he rolled up his sleeves and landed a spot on the roster. He gave the team some much needed depth on the defensive line. Hunt got a chance to really showcase his skills the last two games of the season against the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets. He sacked quarterback J.P. Losman for a safety and his first career sack. Hunt had a career-high five tackles and a sack against the Jets.
Hunt received a good foundation for pro football by playing in the CFL.
“In Canada, I took it upon myself to go in the weight room and get better,” Hunt said. “I took the same workout program I had in college to Canada. I used that same weight program.
“The biggest difference between (the NFL and CFL) is playing the run. In the CFL, there’s a lot more passing. They only have two downs to make a first down. In the NFL, you have three. So, that’s the biggest difference learning how to play the run and being a lot more physical in the NFL.
“It’s a great league. They give you the spotlight to go out and make plays and show NFL teams what you have. They give you an opportunity to make plays. The CFL is great. They treat you great and all the fans are great.”
Warren Moon is one of the most famous alumnus from the CFL. Moon played for the Edmonton Eskimos. He led the Eskimos to five Grey Cup victories. Moon came to the NFL in 1984. He played for the Houston Oilers, Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks and Kansas City Chiefs. In 2006, he was the first African-American quarterback to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Hunt is well aware of his legacy.
“I ran across him a couple times in the CFL,” Hunt said. “He’s a great guy. I met him. He’s still famous in the CFL. So, whenever he shows up they treat him with respect and love. He’s treated like one of their own. Warren Moon is a standup guy. He definitely paved the way for guys like me who came over to the NFL from the CFL.”
Hunt plans to use his knowledge and experience from the CFL to make an impact with the Eagles.