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Kareem Hunt Reflects on His Record-Breaking Season at the Pro Bowl

Posted Jan 24, 2018

The rookie tailback earned a spot in the AFC’s backfield and the respect of his peers this season

It was a year ago this week that tailback Kareem Hunt found himself in the midst of the most important job interview of his life, competing against other top draft prospects at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.

It was uncertain where the University of Toledo product would wind up in the draft, and the Senior Bowl – which serves as a showcase for the best graduating players in college football – was an opportunity – and his last in pads - to show NFL scouts what he could do.

A pile of awards and a rushing title later, Hunt is the first rookie running back to represent the Kansas City Chiefs in the Pro Bowl since 1981.

“This past year has been pretty crazy,” Hunt said. “The Senior Bowl taught me a lot and helped get me to Kansas City. Now I’m in the Pro Bowl and it’s a great feeling, being here with the best of the best. I’ll always remember this.”

Hunt tallied 1,327 yards on the ground this season, becoming just the sixth rookie to take home the rushing title in the Super Bowl Era. Kansas City’s third-round pick in the 2017 Draft, Hunt is just the second rookie selected outside of the first round to lead the league in rushing, and the first to do so in 49 years.

“It means a lot to me,” Hunt said. “Every running back wants to lead the league in rushing sometime in their career.”

And he garnered plenty of accolades along the way.

The rookie tailback picked up 246 yards of offense in his debut back in September, the most ever in a player’s first professional game, and went on to amass at least 100 yards from scrimmage in each of his first seven games – also an NFL record.

He earned the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month Award twice – in September and December – and was named the Rookie of the Year by the Professional Football Writers Association earlier this month.

Hunt’s efforts were rewarded with a spot in the AFC’s backfield along with veteran tailbacks Le’Veon Bell and LeSean McCoy, a pair of players the 22-year-old Hunt grew up watching.

“I’m here with some great backs,” Hunt said. “I watched those guys a lot coming up through college. I’ve watched those guys play a lot of football, so to finally meet them in person and hang out with them is a big deal.”

As it turns out, they’ve been watching him, too.

“He’s a player that people will come in and have to prepare for next year,” Bell said. “He runs the ball hard, he can read holes really well, he can catch the ball out of the backfield and he picks up pass protection. Just getting to know him out here the last few days, he has a great personality and he’ll be in this league for a long time.”

Impressive as it is to earn the respect of a veteran like Bell on the field, Hunt hopes to do the same in another area.

“I know Le’Veon raps a little and I told him I want to get on a beat,” Hunt said with a smile. “I freestyle a little bit in my spare time, so I told him he needs to feature me on one of his songs sometime.”

If his record-shattering rookie season was any indication, the music career may have to wait a while.


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