Team Building – Baylor

Team Building – Baylor

Written by Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Insider

An All-American and All-Big 12 defensive end at Texas Tech who set a league record with 34 career sacks, Aaron Hunt He played 10 years of professional football and won two Gray Cup championships with the BC Lions.

In the eyes of most kids, Hunt was living the dream.

Although coaching may have been the expected career path after football, the communications major’s actual dream job was in the broadcast booth.

“Actually, I was going to be a commentator,” Hunt, Baylor’s assistant football scout, said. “Just talking about football and watching the games, I feel like this is the best job in the world, honestly. I told (voice of the Bears) John Morris, ‘I’m jealous of him, because this is my dream job.'”

Until that elusive broadcast opportunity comes along, Hunt is enjoying the role of helping Baylor’s football team build a team by “bringing people in and knowing exactly what type of kids you need” as the program’s director of scouting.

Other than his role as commissioner of the Texoma Youth Football League, where he also coaches football and basketball in his hometown of Denison, Texas, Hunt’s only coaching experience before coming to Baylor was working as a part-time assistant at Greenhill School in Addison and doing youth football camps. With the Dallas Cowboys.


“When I stopped playing (2012), I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do,” he said. “I’m still a registered insurance agent. I worked in oil and gas for a little while because I had some friends in tech who got into that field. But everything I did led me back to football in some way.”


That opportunity finally came in January 2021, when Hunt was hired as a recruiting and personnel assistant as part of Baylor’s head football coach. Dave Arandacrew. Aranda was a GA at Texas Tech (2000-02) and worked with the defensive ends during Hunt’s final three seasons with the Red Raiders.


“He had one of the funniest, happy-go-lucky personalities,” Aranda said. “You’re always joking, you can’t really put him in a serious moment. But when you put the pads on and you’re on the field, he turns into a different man.


“I think his personality and his heart and all of that are on display throughout. When we had the opportunity to do a role here, it was like, ‘This guy fits the bill.’ ‘He knows what we’re trying to build,’ ‘what we’re looking for, he can relate to it.’ “He was that way with the staff and the players. “He’s just a great connector, someone he can trust and someone who keeps him upbeat and light.”


This is an apt description of Aaron. A monster of a man who played 6-3, 270 pounds and an intimidating quarterback, the first thing you see is a smile that lights up the room. A kind of gentle giant.

 

Aaron Hunt GTKY

“I’m sure I probably wasn’t very well-liked by some of the coaches, just because I could come across as indifferent sometimes, just because they wanted me to be laser focused and be serious,” Aaron said. “I wasn’t like that before. To this day, I have to apologize for that, because I don’t want you to think I don’t care. I just don’t know how to show you that I care.”

Aaron was an all-around athlete at Denison High School, and was part of the Yellowjacket football teams that went to the 4A state championship game three years in a row. . . He lost every time to Lamarque.

“I’m telling you, this is the worst,” said Hunt, who was inducted into the Denison Alumni Association Hall of Fame two years ago in a class that included former Baylor defensive lineman Vinnie Rhodes. “I thought I was cursed. One of my friends that I played with in college, he was from Duncanville. They went to the state tournament and lost twice, and he said, ‘Man, we’re starting to look like Denison.’ “I don’t know why we didn’t win, we should have won at least one title.”

With recruiting options wide open, Aaron considered joining his brother, Reggie Hunt, at TCU. But the Horned Frogs went 1-10 in their final year under Pat Sullivan, “and it was tough for me to go from winning every game to losing every game. That was before Dennis Franchione came in and changed everything there.”

Instead, Aaron fell in love with West Texas legend Spike Dykes.

“Spike Dykes came to my house, and I loved Spike Dykes,” Aaron said of the former Texas Tech head coach. “He came in and put his feet on the table and talked about anything. When he left, I said, ‘Man, I love this guy. I want to play with Spike Dykes.’ “And that’s what happened. Plus, there were some guys from my hometown who were actually there too.”

After redshirting Dykes’ final season at Tech, Hunt ended up playing for another legendary coach in Mike Leach.

“You go from Spike Dykes, who everyone loves and he’s a people person, to Coach Leach, who didn’t know anyone’s name on defense the first couple of years,” Aaron said. “He was calling us numbers. ‘What are you doing, 78?’ But After a while, I liked it too. “He was a players’ coach, too, and just a different kind of guy.”

Aaron’s “curse” carried over to the college ranks, where the Red Raiders lost bowl games in 2000 and 2001 before defeating Clemson, 55-15, in the 2002 Tangerine Bowl.

Texas Tech proved to be a cradle of coaches, helping develop Aranda and future head coaches Dana Holgorsen, Art Briles, Ruffin McNeal, and Greg McMakin. Kliff Kingsbury, Lincoln Riley, and Sonny Cumbie were all players during that period who also became head coaches in college or the NFL.

“I would say every coach on this staff became either a defensive coordinator, offensive coordinator or head coach,” Aaron said. “And there were a lot of guys I played with who are also coaches. I can’t believe where Lincoln (head coach at USC) is now. And among those guys, there are also oil and gas billionaires.”

Hunt’s Big 12 record for career sacks (34.0) stood alone until Iowa State’s Will McDonald equaled it two years ago. Aaron was selected by the Denver Broncos in the 2003 NFL Draft, where he bounced around the league on practice squads and training camp rosters before playing in NFL Europe with the Hamburg Sea Devils in 2005, recording 23 total tackles and three sacks.

“It was strange to have all these people coming to see us and not knowing us,” he said. “We’ll have big crowds. People love soccer. This was the first year that city (Hamburg, Germany) had a team.”

Going to the Canadian Football League the following year, Aaron wanted to play with his brother Reggie in Saskatchewan, but Bob Ovilovich, a longtime CFL scout, said the BC Lions owned his CFL rights, “so, if you want to play in “Anywhere else.” You have to play for us first.”

One year turned into six, as Aaron won the Gray League Cup in his first (2006) and last (2011) seasons. He was named the league’s Outstanding Rookie in year one and was a five-time CFL West Division All-Star before hanging it up after playing part of the 2012 season with the Montreal Alouettes.

“I ended up absolutely loving Vancouver,” he said of the BC Lions’ home. “When I went to the Gray Cup my freshman year, I still thought I was cursed. So, obviously, I was going to lose the Gray Cup, because that’s what I do. I was going to lose the big game. But when we won it that year, I thought, ‘Well, maybe It wasn’t me.’ So, I started calling some of my friends in Denison and saying, ‘Hey, it must be you who did it.’

In the midst of trying to figure out his path after football, Aaron started the non-profit Texoma Youth Football League in 2013 and still serves as its commissioner 10 years later.

“At some point in my life, Denison got kind of bad, in my opinion, as far as drugs and violence,” he said. “So, I wanted to do something for the kids. It started with one or two teams, and now, we have over 200 kids enrolled in basketball. We play football, basketball and track, too.”
Aaron Hunt GTKY

“Not that I’m special, but I feel like if people can see someone who came from Denison doing something positive, that can help tremendously.”

By staying in touch with Aranda over the years, Aaron almost became a member of the Wisconsin General Assembly while Aranda was there as defensive coordinator. So, he took a chance when the position became open at Baylor and was part of a Big 12 and Sugar Bowl championship team in 2021.

“I knew we had special guys,” he said. “Then I saw Abu (the nose tackle.) Check the fish), and I was like, “Oh, wow!” You just had guys who were confident. You had guys like Christian Morgan, which was completely ridiculous, but he knew how to play football. He knew what he was doing. I may not have seen the Sugar Bowl champion and No. 5 overall (in the final polls), but I knew it was going to be a really good team.

Hunt sees the same kind of special things with his freshman class that includes two defensive backs Caden Jenkins And Carl Williams IVrunning back Dawson Pendergrass And Bryson Washington And defensive linemen Brendan’s bed And Trey Wilson.

“The freshman class we have is really good,” he said. “It’s kind of crazy. And some of the freshmen that are freshmen are going to be really good, too.”

Aaron and his wife Angela have two sons, Aaron (“Sonny”) and Ashton; and one daughter Addison.

“I call my eldest son Sonny, just because it sounds weird saying my name,” he said. “But I think he likes Sonny now too, because everyone calls him Sonny.”

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