Robert Hunt’s rise from an unknown college prospect to an NFL draft possibility became reality Friday when the UL offensive lineman was selected by the Miami Dolphins with the No. 39 overall pick in the second round.

Starting his football career in a town of fewer than 2,000 people in Burkeville, Texas, the 6-foot-5, 317-pound Hunt began his collegiate journey as a guard during his redshirt freshman season.

Hunt nearly became the highest UL player ever drafted. That distinction still belongs with cornerback Charles Tillman at No. 35 by the Chicago Bears in 2003, one spot ahead of Cecilia’s Anthony Clement at No. 36 with Arizona in 1998.

The Cajuns' only other second-round pick was Crowley’s Orlando Thomas at No. 42 with Minnesota in 1995.

"We couldn't be more proud of Robert Hunt as he continues his journey into the National Football League,” UL coach Billy Napier said. “From the very beginning, Robert was someone who has been a leader in our locker room and in our community. He will be an outstanding representative of the Ragin' Cajuns at the next level, and the Miami Dolphins will find out quickly how tremendous he is, as both a person and as a football player."

Hunt finished his career with the’ Cajuns as a starting right tackle his final two seasons. Most NFL teams indicated to Hunt before the draft that they saw him as a guard.

Analysts claimed the Dolphins may give Hunt a chance at tackle.

“Me, I don’t mind where I play,” Hunt said before the draft. “I’m comfortable at right tackle, but I can definitely play guard. I think I do it well.

“I think my body type would be very big for a guard.”

Hunt’s senior season was cut short after seven games by a sports hernia injury. Still, he was invited to the Senior Bowl. He attended the week in Mobile, Alabama, but wasn’t able to practice or compete in the game.

Hunt also was invited to the NFL combine. Again, he handled the interview portion but wasn’t able to participate physically.

Hunt helped the Cajuns finish the year ranked third nationally in yards per carry (6.28), fourth nationally in touchdowns rushing (42), sixth nationally in rushing yards per game (257.4) and seventh nationally in total yards rushing (3,604).

He was also part of an offensive line that ranked fifth nationally and first in the Sun Belt in sacks allowed (1.07) during the record-breaking season.

Hunt's pro day was canceled because of the coronavirus shutdown, and with a lack of in-person contact with NFL front-office personnel, Hunt had several obstacles to overcome — but he still attracted enough attention to go in the second round.

“Everything happened for a reason,” Hunt said.

Hunt’s NFL.com draft profile said he possesses a “rare combination of bulk and athleticism.”

Perhaps the Dolphins like him most of punishing, run-blocking guard due to the opinion that Hunt’s “hands are like clamps once they take root into defender’s frame.”

One supposed drawback is his “footwork is a little raw and undisciplined.”

Like many draft prospects, ESPN and the NFL told the story of Hunt’s humble beginnings to the nation during Friday’s draft broadcast.

The UL football community is hoping Hunt's selection is the beginning of a historic draft in the program's history. Former teammates guard Kevin Dotson, running back Raymond Calais, wide receiver Ja'Marcus Bradley and cornerback Michael Jacquet are among Cajuns hoping to get selected in rounds three through seven.

The only year UL had more than two players drafted in the same season was 1989, when Chris Gannon was picked in the third round by New England, Mark Hall in the seventh round by Green Bay and safety Thomas King by the Packers in the eighth round.


Email Kevin Foote at kfoote@theadvocate.com.