Austin Perryman

On The Plains with Jarquez Hunter: ‘A year to remember'

by Shelly Poe

AUBURN, Ala. – “I always wanted to play at Auburn – always – since I was a little kid. 

“My family members and friends can tell you; they always knew I wanted to come to Auburn. There was just something about the Tigers that caught my eye. I was always in love with Auburn and wanted to come here,” running back Jarquez Hunter explains about why he chose to spend his college career on the Plains.

“My senior year in January, that’s when Coach (Bryan) Harsin offered me, and I committed on the spot. A very easy decision - I told him I was coming to Auburn.”

Fast forward four years and Hunter, a second team all-SEC honoree with 2,172 rushing yards and 17 touchdown runs to his credit, couldn’t be more satisfied with his decision as he enters his senior season. 

“To this day, it fits in great with what I thought it could be. I’ve met a lot of awesome people and made a lot of great relationships – everywhere you go it feels like family. Everybody welcomes you in. I got a chance to finish my degree in three years – I got a great degree from Auburn and that will take me a long way other than just playing football. It’s been awesome here at Auburn. It feels like family every time I walk through campus.”

Receiving his bachelor’s degree this May was as big an accomplishment as any game-winning touchdown or SEC accolade, and it came through Hunter’s trademark persistence and dedication. 

“Getting that degree, my family was really proud and me, I just felt relieved. I finally got it done and all the hard work of three years paid off. To finish in three years, I tried to take as many classes as I could. Most semesters during fall and spring, I tried to take 18 hours, and I took 12 hours in the summers. 

20240501_FB_GraduationPortraits_Hunter27_AP_0058AUBURN, AL - May 01, 2024 - Auburn Running Back Jarquez Hunter (#27) poses in a graduation gown outside Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, AL. Photo by Austin Perryman

“My major was natural resource management. I chose that because I’m an outdoors person. I just like to be outside and it’s something I’d like to do in the future when I get done playing football. I like to be hands-on and there are a number of jobs it covers. You can be a park ranger or something like that, and I would enjoy that. It’s important to keep nature and the outdoors going and available to everyone. 

“Graduation day, I was proud of myself, and I know my family was proud. Nobody can take that away from me. I’ve got an Auburn degree.”

Next, Hunter, who already ranks 18th among Auburn’s career rushing leaders, wants to solidify his legacy of production. 

“My dream in football is simple. One day, I want to be listed among the best running backs to play here. I know Bo Jackson, Cadillac (Williams), Ronnie Brown, all of them, but I want to be in the category with them. I want to be one of the great running backs who came through Auburn. 

“I want my teammates to say Jarquez gave his all every time he was at practice and in a game or in workouts. I want them to say he was a great person to be around every day, and he gave it his all.”

This is my last year and I plan to go out and play for one another, go out there and have a special year with my brothers.


Jarquez Hunter

Running Back

Reaching for that goal has come through hard work and knowledge.

“The main part of this game is you’ve got to take care of your body,” Hunter said. “Younger players think they can just go out there and play forever and their body won’t hurt, but your body is going to start hurting eventually. You’ve really got to take care of your body and find every way to stay healthy. 

“For me, I like to practice hard. If you practice hard, you play hard. And if you make practice hard, then the game will seem easy. I try to lead the younger guys by example and show them how hard I practice. If you practice hard, it will show up in the game and you’ll have a good game. If you don’t practice hard, the game might not go as well.”

The former Mississippi Mr. Football at Neshoba Central High in Philadelphia, Mississippi, Hunter believes the 2024 season can be memorable for the Tigers. 

“I feel like we’ve gotten close as a team and we can have a really special year this year, make the playoffs and win,” the SEC academic honor roll student said. “We’ve got the talent, we’ve got the players, and the new guys who came in have a lot to add to our team. I think we can be a really special team.

“For me, I’ll try to be a great teammate,” he added “I’ll try to be a leader to the team and try to push everybody as much as I push myself. I know I’m going to go hard every day for my teammates, and I want them to do the same thing for me or other people beside them on the field. This is my last year and I plan to go out and play for one another, go out there and have a special year with my brothers.”

Despite changes on and off the field throughout his career, Hunter remains focused on his first love: Auburn.

“Before I came to college, my uncle always told me to fall in love with the school instead of the coaches because the coaches could change any day. They could be there today and gone tomorrow, so you’ve got to fall in love with the school and you’ve got to do your part. You’ve got to stay focused and be the same person that you were yesterday, but even better.”

And Hunter believes there’s no place better than Auburn. 

“You’ve got to be here,” he explained. “Auburn is just a loving city, a caring college – everywhere you go the people are like family. There are smiles on their faces and they’re greeting you. You walk around our building and everybody is smiling and showing you love. You walk around the campus or the town and it’s the same way. 

“I’m going to miss gamedays. Gamedays at Auburn are electric. The fans, the crowds, the student section – everybody shows up every game. The Tiger Walk is electric – people showing you so much love.

“Gameday, the fans love Auburn. They show up win, lose or draw. They’re going to be here and showing love to the athletes and I love that about Auburn. They’re always going to be with us; no matter how we’re doing, the family is going to be there. 

“This is going to be a year to remember for Auburn football and I hope a year to remember Jarquez Hunter.”

Hunter27_20231021_FB_vsOleMiss_ZB_0120AUBURN, AL - OCTOBER 21 - Auburn Running Back Jarquez Hunter (27) during the game between the Auburn Tigers and the #13 Ole Miss Rebels at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, AL on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023. Photo by Zach Bland/Auburn Tigers