Dream comes true

Published 10:46 am Monday, August 1, 2016

SEATTLE, WA – Even though his son was being courted by several NFL teams, Howard Hunter III kept urging Montario to have a “back-up plan.”

Well, dad, your athletically gifted son doesn’t need an alternative….at least for the immediate future.

On Thursday, the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks formally extended Montario Hunter an invitation to their pre-season training camp, which begins in earnest today (Saturday) in Renton, Washington.

“We’re so happy; so proud of Montario,” said Howard Hunter, an Ahoskie businessman and the District 5 member of the NC House of Representatives.

“I know I’ve been hard on him along the way, but that was done out of my love for him…..I was just trying to make him better and to prepare himself should things go south and he wasn’t extended a contract.”

The father’s advice now for his son: “Don’t follow, lead.”

“Throughout this process, to include try-outs with two other NFL teams, Montario has matured mentally,” Howard Hunter noted. “He has the athletic tools to compete at the pro level, but there you have to be mentally tough.”

As noted, Montario’s athleticism was apparent at a recent try-out camp for prospective undrafted free agents. The 6-foot, 195-pounder ran the 40-yard dash in a blazing 4.37 seconds and his 10-yard dash was clocked at 1.5 seconds. His vertical leap was measured at 35 and one-half inches. In the broad jump, he leaped 10.1 feet.

“Even in his earlier try-out with the (NFL’s) New York Jets, they were impressed with his speed, agility and his hands (as a receiver),” said Howard Hunter.

However, the deal with the Jets fell through after they signed a free agent that completed professionally last season with the New York Giants.

After that disappointment, Montario was given a try-out with the Green Bay Packers, but not as a wide receiver.

“They were looking for him to compete on defense as a cornerback; he never played that position,” said Howard Hunter.

The younger Hunter came back to Ahoskie for a few weeks before returning to Charlotte (where he trains).

“Montario never really got down on himself, despite the rejections from the Jets and Packers,” said Howard Hunter. “He kept saying his goal was to play in the NFL and that his trust and faith in God would help him reach that goal.”

Evidently, that faith reaped reward.

Earlier this week, Montario Hunter received a phone call from his sports agent, informing him that the Seahawks wanted to put him through a workout.

A cross-country flight later, the younger Hunter was in Seattle, being put through the paces by legendary Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll and his staff.

“After the workout and ensuing physical (exam), coach Carroll asked Montario was he ready to go to work,” said Howard Hunter. “When he answered yes sir, Seattle cut one of their other receivers and signed Montario to a free agent contract.”

Still, both father and son realize there is a final hurdle to clear before Montario can suit up for a pre-season or regular season game.

“Training camp is brutal,” said Howard Hunter. “There’s 90 guys vying for 50 spots on the roster, but I’m confident Montario will make it. He’s tough and he’s tested. He’s ready to go to battle.”

Montario Hunter is a 2010 graduate of Hertford County High School. After spending a year at Fork Union Military Academy, he played football at Elon and Elizabeth City State University. At the latter he was the national leader in yards per catch at the NCAA Division 2 level.

And if he makes it as a member of the final 50-man roster, his biggest fan will be there to see him play.

“If I have to walk to Seattle, I’m going to be there to see his first game as a professional football player,” closed the proud father.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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