The weedwhacker told Bryan Harsin all he needed to know.
Auburn’s second-year coach saw a recent photo of sophomore running back Jarquez Hunter working on his family’s Mississippi farm with a weedwhacker between the end of the spring semester and the start of the early summer session. It was a promising, though not unexpected, sign of progress after Hunter spent the last two months sidelined following a knee procedure in March.
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“He’s doing great,” Harsin said Tuesday in Alexander City before participating in Bruce Pearl’s Fore the Children Golf Classic. “…We expect a full recovery with him.”
The knee procedure — a scope procedure to clean up some damage — caused Hunter to miss the majority of spring practice, with Harsin placing a timeline of eight to 10 weeks on his return in late March. The eight-week mark came last week, and Harsin said Tuesday that he expected Hunter to be ready to go when summer workouts begin.
“There’s no doubt with him,” Harsin said. “First of all, he’s a tough kid, phenomenally strong; that guy can push weight, so we’ll get him back really quickly. And he’s determined. I think the best thing we did was get that cleaned up. He probably could have played through it, but it was the best thing for him to make sure he’s all 100 percent ready to go in the summer.”
Hunter is coming off a strong debut season in which he rushed for 593 yards and three touchdowns while averaging 6.6 yards per carry. Some of his best work came early in the season, when he averaged 10.6 yards per carry against Auburn’s early nonconference opponents. His production dipped during SEC play, when he averaged just 4.04 yards on 48 carries against superior competition.
Now that the damage in his knee has been addressed and given time to recover, Auburn expects Hunter to be a key piece of its backfield behind star running back Tank Bigsby and alongside incoming four-star freshman Damari Alston, as the Tigers try to build their offense around their running game this season.
“We’ll get him going, and Damari’s going to be here, so we’ll have that group—he, Tank and Damari, those guys in the backfield, Sean (Jackson), who we put on scholarship,” Harsin said. “There’s some good players there.”
Tom Green is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde.