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Illinois Football Defensive Line Commit “Trying to Be Next”

Recent Illinois Football defensive line commit Gentle Hunt says that when it come to great defensive tackles, he’s “Trying to Be Next”



Illinois Football Defensive Line Commit "Trying to Be Next"
Florida A&M Rattlers defensive lineman Gentle Hunt (92) goes after Grambling State Tigers quarterback Elijah Walker (3) during a game between FAMU and Grambling State University at Bragg Memorial Stadium on FAMU's homecoming Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021. Famu Vs Grambling 103021 Ts 1440

 Illinois Football Defensive Line Commit “Trying to Be Next”

Recently, coach Terrance Jamison locked down a high-quality veteran for the 2024 defensive line. Florida A&M transfer D-lineman Gentle Hunt pledged his commitment to the Illini on Wednesday, May 15th. Hunt’s commitment gave  Illinois a much-needed presence in a room that took high priority during the spring transfer portal window. Of course, due to (good) attrition to the NFL, Johnny Newton and Keith Randolph Jr. developed into high-caliber talent in the Big Ten under Bret Bielema and coach Jamison. Recent commit Gentle Hunt tells Armchair Illini, he wants to be next up.

Get To Know: Gentle Hunt

The newest Illinois Football addition is humbled to find himself in his current position. Gentle, is strong in his roots and sees the direction of his career as a blessing. I’m a country boy out of the small city of High Springs Florida. Not many people get this opportunity in life.” Says Hunt. “I’m just blessed to be where my feet are planted.”

Gentle grew up a student of the game. Studying play styles and drawing inspiration from many legendary defensive linemen. “I always loved smaller D-Tackles like the great John Randle, Aaron Donald, Grady Jared, Edward Oliver, and Michael Pierce,” states Hunt. Certainly, among many others as well, throughout the years. Why? These guys have been counted out because of their height. They proved the world wrong, I’m just trying to be next.Gentle stands in at 5’11 and 290 lbs. Some would say he is undersized, however, film and the stats never lie. Check out his stats and player breakdown below.

Hunt’s Recruitment To Illinois

Of course, the Illinois staff is thrilled with where Hunt is headed as well. Coach Terrance Jamison was in heavy pursuit of the All SWAC D-lineman throughout the quick recruiting process. According to Gentle, Jamison made Central Illinois quickly feel like home. “Talking with him was great on the phone, but the visit and the film session made the trip even better. The drills that were shown in practice, and the transition to the game was amazing to see. He (Jamison) was a great teacher from those 2 days. I can’t wait to see how much my IQ will grown before game 1 and throughout the season.” Overall, the Florida Native enjoyed a comfortable visit to the Land of Lincoln. “The visit was great. Coming from an HBCU and being around black coaches helps out a lot. It was just a great at-home feel.” Stated the Illini’s newest addition. 

Vision for Illinois Football 2024

Quickly, Gentle saw value in what potentially the Illinois Football program could bring to his career. Hunt claims that he felt confidence in what Bret Bielema has planned for him “After listening to all the coaches and seeing how my game can change.” Of course, Illinois’ recent success at development with the defensive line position made the sale even more solidified, says Hunt. “Having 3 D-Tackles get a chance at the league plays a huge part.”  

For the 2024 season, the grad transfer’s main goal is simple. “The main thing is to win.” says Gentle. “After winning my first championship in December, I want to feel the same with this great team. After watching Jer’Zahn, Keith, and (Denzel) Daxon, and seeing what they did last year, I already know this D-line is trying to do the same, if not better.”

Player Breakdown (Per Kirkland Chappell)

As a senior, Hunt earned All-SWAC honors after totaling 32 tackles (11 being for loss) and 5.5 sacks for the Rattlers in 2023. Standing in at 5’11 and 290 lbs, Gentle uses his low, yet powerful frame to attack at hip level, with quick burst speed. Certainly, a tough cover for big offensive lineman, who may play at a higher pad level.

D-Line is a position where NFL attrition has taken a major effect on Illinois roster. The “Law Firm” of Keith Randolph and Johnny Newton just recently departed for the NFL. Opening two major holes on the Illini’s defensive line. Coach Jamison brought in transfers like Auburn DL Enyce Sledge , as well as Florida State DL Dennis Briggs Jr to fill the voids. The unit seemingly had a good spring with the new additions.

Coach Bielema has been high on Alex Bray and Terah  Edwards, as well. However, there is not a ton of proven experience here. As we know in the Big Ten, injuries happen quite often on the line of scrimmage. As a result, Illinois must be well-equipped with productive depth pieces. Gentle was really good at FAMU, and brings the experience needed to be a leader in the Big Ten.


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