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SMU DE Margus Hunt wrecks Fresno State’s offense in Hawaii Bowl upset

Frank Schwab
Dr. Saturday

Maybe you had heard of Margus Hunt before the Hawaii Bowl. If you don't know that much about Hunt and missed the Hawaii Bowl don't worry - you'll hear plenty about him between now and the NFL Draft.

The SMU defensive end with one of the most unique stories in college football controlled the first half against Fresno State and did wonders for his draft stock in the process. Like BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy in the Poinsettia Bowl, Hunt completely took over a bowl game as he wrecked the Bulldogs' offense.

In the first half, Hunt had three tackles for loss, two sacks, forced two fumbles and got a safety. SMU, which was a 12-point underdog, was up 22-0 at halftime thanks to the fact that Fresno State couldn't block Hunt. The Mustangs ended up with a convincing 43-10 win.

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And where did this behemoth who runs like a defensive back come from? Good question.

Hunt is from Estonia, was an elite prep track and field athlete and came to SMU in the fall of 2007 to train with renowned track and field coach Dave Wollman. Hunt won gold medals in both the shot and discus at the 2006 World Junior Championships, and still holds the world junior record in the discus throw. He had never played football before coming to SMU.

But he was 6-8 and 280 pounds, and walked on to the SMU football team. He blocked seven kicks his first year, one short of the NFL record. He is rumored to run the 40-yard dash in about 4.6 seconds. He also picked up piano.

Many people took notice. He was named the No. 1 athletic freak in college football by CBSSports.com this offseason, in an article that predicted he would run a 4.6 40-yard dash and also bench press 225 pounds 45 times at the NFL scouting combine. Sigmund Bloom of Bleacher Report predicted back in May that Hunt would be the star of the 2013 combine, and rightfully pointed out that Hunt's measurables will blow away Dontari Poe, a physical marvel who went 11th in the 2012 draft. The only thing as important as quarterback in the modern NFL is rushing the quarterback, and guys that play like Hunt did against Fresno State will be in high demand. Especially considering Hunt will immediately be one of the best athletes in a league full of great athletes, and is barely learning how to play the game. His potential is tremendous.

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Hunt turned the Hawaii Bowl in SMU's favor early on, and then just to make sure Fresno State had no plans on coming back, his pass rush on quarterback Derek Carr on the Bulldogs' first drive of the second half forced Carr to throw the ball away on third down. Hunt's dominance came against a Fresno State team that gave up just 22 sacks in 480 pass attempts during the regular season. SMU and coach June Jones won the Hawaii Bowl in a blowout again - the Mustangs beat Nevada 45-10 in the 2009 game. This win gives SMU a winning record to end the season, at 7-6, while it is a bitter end for Fresno State, which was 9-3 in the regular season.

Hunt's great performance was the biggest story in the biggest upset of the bowl season so far. NFL scouts will be reviewing the film many times over the next few months.

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