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Where will Devon Hunter go? [Credit: Evan Morrison][/caption]Devon Hunter is arguably the top recruit in the state of Virginia this year with Hunter receiving offers from just about every major program east of the Mississippi including Virginia Tech, Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Ole Miss, North Carolina, Clemson, Michigan, Ohio State, Miami, Michigan State, Penn State, Tennessee, Florida State, Georgia, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Notre Dame, and more.
Hunter has been a top target for tons of major programs and after a long recruiting process that has gone on for years, he's ready to make his collegiate choice with a final 6 of Virginia Tech, Florida, North Carolina, Auburn, Alabama, and Ole Miss.
Hunter's decision will undoubtedly receive a lot of attention nationally with all six of these schools having a chance to build some recruiting momentum with less than two weeks to go till National Signing Day.
With that said, here our preview of Hunter's commitment and where he stands ahead of tomorrow's official announcement.
Very, Very Unlikely: Alabama, Auburn, Ole Miss
These three SEC schools all have not received official visits from Hunter with Hunter cancelling his Auburn official this weekend while Alabama is the only school that for now has an official visit scheduled with Hunter among these three on January 27th.
Auburn seemed to be a much more serious player weeks ago, but a lot changed when Auburn DBs coach Wesley McGriff left to become the defensive coordinator at Ole Miss. The move just about destroyed the Tigers' chances with McGriff being the reason why they had a chance while it opened an opportunity for Ole Miss, but Hunter has never seemed to show that much interest in the Rebels.
Hunter cancelling his official visit to Auburn and not having one scheduled to Ole Miss is also another bad sign that neither of these teams really have much of a chance.
Meanwhile, Alabama seemed to be emerging as a possible player in December, but the Crimson Tide's threat has lessened especially after they gained a surprise commitment at the Under Armour All-America Game from safety Xavier McKinney who had been expected to commit to Clemson. Alabama also doesn't seem to be putting as much effort into trying to get Hunter now with McKinney committed and it would be surprising to see him end up in Tuscaloosa.
These three schools have done enough to make the cut, but it may be the biggest recruiting surprise of this cycle if he ends up choosing Alabama, Auburn, or Ole Miss.
Big Underdog: North Carolina
North Carolina has been a surprise competitor in this as the Tar Heels would on paper feel like an underdog but have taken advantage to the fact that Chapel Hill isn't far from the 757 along with how UNC has become a top 25 to 30 program under Larry Fedora. North Carolina also has seen their defense improve over the past two years thanks to Gene Chizik taking over as the defensive coordinator.
One major issue for North Carolina is that DBs coach Charlton Warren left for Tennessee and the Tar Heels just recently replaced him with Terry Joseph from Texas A&M who Hunter likely doesn't know. On top of that, Warren played a major role in the recruitment of Hunter and with that relationship playing a big role in UNC's recruitment of Hunter, it puts them in a deeper hole.
However, the Tar Heels are one of the three teams that Hunter has taken an official visit to and you can't rule them out completely at this point especially with the success UNC has had over the past couple of seasons. At this point, UNC's chances are quite small but you can never know sometimes and ruling them out completely would probably be ridiculous still.
Florida received an official visit from Devon Hunter last weekend which seemed to go quite well based on his Twitter and makes the Gators the top challenger against the Hokies headed into this commitment. The Gators have seemed to be the number 2 team for much of the past year behind Virginia Tech and enter Hunter's decision day still as a big underdog.
The reason why Florida was able to first get in the hunt was their hiring of former Virginia Tech DBs coach Torrian Gray last offseason to be their DBs coach. Without that hire, there's a chance that Hunter would already be a Hokie, but Gray's move to Florida, his long relationship with Hunter, and 757 connections have helped draw this recruitment out and give Florida an outside shot.
Torrian Gray is the main reason why Florida was able to even get in the discussion while the Gators have done a lot to give themselves a shot at pulling off the surprise. It would be surprising to see him end up in Gainesville, but the Gators have a done a good job giving themselves at least a shot.
Overwhelming Favorite: Virginia Tech
For the past few years, Devon Hunter has been the number 1 recruiting priority for Virginia Tech in the Class of 2017 with that not changing at all when Justin Fuente replaced Frank Beamer. Virginia Tech has seen Hunter as a difference maker for a long time and enters decision day as the overwhelming favorite to get the "statement" type of recruit to help Virginia Tech make a recruiting "statement" this class.
The loss of Torrian Gray opened the door for other teams to make this recruiting battle tighter but Justin Fuente and 757 area recruiter Zohn Burden have done a tremendous job recruiting Hunter along with the whole Virginia Tech football program making his value to them clear by even letting him reveal Virginia Tech's Battle at Bristol uniforms
On top of that, Virginia Tech has the in-state advantage here and while Virginia Tech struggled at the end of the Frank Beamer era in keeping top in-state guys home, Justin Fuente and his regime have made that a priority with Hunter being seen as a signature piece to make a big statement across Virginia and the nation on the rise of Virginia Tech led by players from Virginia.
Prediction: Virginia Tech
This one is the Hokies to lose and while Florida and UNC have made it interesting, I would be shocked if Devon Hunter doesn't end up in Blacksburg. The Hokies have put together a tremendous recruiting blitz to get Hunter while even former Hokies have shown their desire to see Hunter in Blacksburg including Seattle Seahawks star, former Hokie, and 757 native Kam Chancellor.
Virginia Tech has made Devon Hunter a priority for a long time and Hunter has grown to have a great love for Virginia Tech that hasn't changed as coaches have in Blacksburg. Virginia Tech will get the man that they've been targeting for a long time tomorrow as I expect that Devon Hunter will commit to the Hokies giving VT the in-state and national statement they've been hoping to make with Hunter.
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