Danielle Hunter

Jamaican-born American football player (born 1994)

American football player
Danielle Hunter
refer to caption
Hunter in 2015
No. 55 – Houston Texans
Position:Defensive end
Personal information
Born: (1994-10-29) October 29, 1994 (age 29)
St. Catherine, Jamaica
Height:6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)
Weight:263 lb (119 kg)
Career information
High school:Morton Ranch (Katy, Texas)
College:LSU (2012–2014)
NFL draft:2015 / Round: 3 / Pick: 88
Career history
  • Minnesota Vikings (2015–2023)
  • Houston Texans (2024–present)
Roster status:Active
Career highlights and awards
  • Second-team All-Pro (2018)
  • 4× Pro Bowl (2018, 2019, 2022, 2023)
  • PFWA All-Rookie Team (2015)
Career NFL statistics as of 2023
Total tackles:462
Sacks:87.5
Forced fumbles:11
Fumble recoveries:4
Pass deflections:8
Defensive touchdowns:2
Player stats at NFL.com · PFR

Danielle Hunter (/dəˈnl/ də-NEEL; born October 29, 1994) is a Jamaican-born American football defensive end for the Houston Texans of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at LSU and was selected by the Minnesota Vikings in the third round of the 2015 NFL draft. Hunter made four Pro Bowls with the Vikings prior to signing with the Texans in 2024.

Early years

Born in St. Catherine, Jamaica on October 29, 1994, Hunter moved to the United States when he was 8 years old. He grew up in Katy, Texas, just west of Houston, where he attended Morton Ranch High School. He got signed up for youth football after a coach saw him playing tag with another boy who was trying to get away on roller skates. As a junior, he led his football team to their first Class 5A State Playoffs appearance despite playing defensive end for the first time as a freshman because he performed poorly in wide receiver tryouts. He tallied 63 tackles and seven sacks in his junior season. As a senior, he recorded 30 quarterback pressures, 11 tackles for losses, four sacks and four pass breakups on defense, while also catching four passes for 63 yards and a score on offense. In his final high school game against Lamar High School, he was credited with 16 stops. During his high school career, Hunter compiled 108 total tackles.[1]

In track and field, Hunter competed in both sprinting and jumping events. Checking in at 6'6", 225 pounds, Hunter captured the district title in the high jump with a leap of 1.83 meters (6 feet, 0 inches) while also placing 5th in the long jump with a leap of 6.40 meters (20 feet, 11.5 inches) and 6th in the 400-meter dash with a time of 51.47 seconds at the 2011 District Meet.[2]

Regarded as a four-star recruit by Rivals.com, Hunter was rated as the No. 37 prospect in the state of Texas.[3] He was also ranked as the 14th best defensive end by Scout.com, 21st by Rivals.com and 34th by ESPN.com.

College career

Hunter attended Louisiana State University from 2012 to 2014, where he was a two-year starter at defensive end for the Tigers.

Freshman

As a true freshman in 2012, Hunter was only 17 years old. He saw action in 12 games with no starts, playing most of the time on special teams, including kickoff coverage. He was active in every game with the exception of the South Carolina game in October 13. He had a season-high three tackles in a win over Idaho on September 15.[4] Hunter ended his first year with 12 tackles, including three solo.[5]

Sophomore

As a sophomore in 2013, Hunter played in 13 games, starting 10 of them after breaking into the starting lineup on September 21 against Auburn. In that game, his first start, he recorded a then career-best eight tackles and a quarterback hurry in a 35–21 win over the eventual national runner-up.[6] He had an outstanding all-around game in a win over Florida with seven tackles, one tackle for loss and two pass breakups.[7] He closed the year with four tackles, including a sack for a 4-yard loss, in the win over Iowa in the 2014 Outback Bowl.[8] Hunter finished the season with 57 tackles, 8.0 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks, five quarterback hurries and a pair of pass breaksups.[9][10][11]

Junior

Hunter returned as a starter for his junior year in 2014.[12] For the first time in his career, he played and started all 13 games for the Tigers, contributing as a key member of an LSU defense that led the Southeastern Conference (SEC) in total yards (316.8 yards per game) and pass defense (164.2 yards per game) and ranked No. 2 in the league in scoring defense with 17.5 points per game. In the season opener game, he helped the Tiger defense limit Wisconsin to 32 yards on 19 plays over the final 27 minutes of the contest as LSU erased a 17-point deficit to beat the Badgers 28-24. Against Mississippi State, he had six tackles, a sack and scooped up a Dak Prescott fumble on the first play of the second half, racing 25 yards for a touchdown. After setting a career-high in tackles with 12 against Auburn in week 4, he became the first LSU defensive lineman with double-digit tackles in a game since Glenn Dorsey had 11 tackles against Ole Miss on November 28, 2006. He was the first LSU defender to score on a fumble return since Tyrann Mathieu did it on a 23-yard return in win over Kentucky on October 1, 2011. In LSU's win over Kentucky in week 8, he had one of his best all-around games with six tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss, a quarterback hurry and three pass breakups. He played a key role in LSU's upset win over third-ranked Ole Miss with nine tackles, including two for losses, in a 10-7 win over the Rebels. He closed out the season with nine tackles, including one for a 4-yard loss, against Notre Dame in the Music City Bowl. For the season, Hunter recorded 73 tackles, including 30 solo stops, 1.5 sacks, six pass breakups and a pair of quarterback hurries. His 13.0 tackles for loss ranked 10th in the SEC.

He played in 38 games with 23 starts in three years, and started 23 straight games at defensive end. He opted to forgo his final season at LSU and declared for the 2015 NFL draft in January 2015. He finished his college career with 142 tackles, 21.0 tackles for loss (79 yards), 4.5 sacks (27 yards), eight pass breakups, seven quarterback hurries, and two forced fumbles (including a touchdown on a 25-yard fumble return).

College statistics

LSU Tigers
Season Team GP GS Tackles Interceptions Fumbles
Cmb Solo Ast Sck TfL PD Int Yds Avg Lng TD FF FR Yds TD
2012 LSU 12 0 12 3 9 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2013 LSU 13 10 57 19 38 3.0 8.0 2 0 0 0.0 0 0 1 0 0 0
2014 LSU 13 13 73 30 43 1.5 13.0 6 0 0 0.0 0 0 1 1 25 1
Totals 38 23 142 52 90 4.5 21.0 8 0 0 0.0 0 0 2 1 25 1

Professional career

Pre-draft

Following his junior season, Hunter entered the 2015 NFL draft.[13] Described as a defensive end with tremendous athletic upside and a good motor, Hunter was often compared to Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul in terms of his similar length, burst and potential.

External videos
video icon Hunter's NFL Combine workout
video icon Hunter gets drafted by Minnesota
Pre-draft measurables
Height Weight Arm length Hand span 40-yard dash 10-yard split 20-yard split 20-yard shuttle Three-cone drill Vertical jump Broad jump Bench press
6 ft 5+18 in
(1.96 m)
252 lb
(114 kg)
34+14 in
(0.87 m)
10+12 in
(0.27 m)
4.57 s 1.57 s 2.67 s 4.35 s 6.95 s 36.5 in
(0.93 m)
10 ft 10 in
(3.30 m)
25 reps
All values from NFL Combine and Pro Day[14][15]

At the 2015 NFL Combine, Hunter registered a time of 4.57 seconds in the 40-yard dash, the fastest time among all defensive linemen. He also did 25 repetitions on the 225-pound bench press.

Minnesota Vikings

2015

Hunter was selected by the Minnesota Vikings in the third round of the 2015 NFL draft with the 88th pick overall.[16] The pick was part of a trade where the Vikings traded back in the third round, giving up their 80th overall pick for the third- and fifth-rounders (88th and 143rd overall) of the Detroit Lions.[17] As a rookie in 2015, Hunter was the youngest player in the NFL, but quickly managed to earn a rotational role on defense and finished second among all NFL rookies and second in the team in sacks with 6.0. After two seasons in Minnesota, Hunter compiled 18.5 career sacks and four games in which he finished the day with at least 1.5 sacks. Since 1985, only Keith Millard and Kevin Williams registered more sacks than Hunter in their first two NFL seasons with the Vikings.[18]

In his first career start, Hunter had four tackles, half a sack and was credited with a forced fumble in the Vikings' 16-10 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in week 6. The forced fumble ended the Chiefs' second-to-last drive of the game. In week 8 against the Chicago Bears, Hunter recorded a sack and a tackle. In week 15, Hunter continued to see an expanded role on the defensive line as he played 48 of 64 snaps in the Vikings' blowout win over the Chicago Bears 38-17, recording 1.5 sacks and five total tackles. Hunter finished the season with 33 total tackles (29 of them solo), 10 tackles for loss, 6.0 sacks, 25 quarterback pressures, 1 pass defensed and a forced fumble. On January 19, 2016, Hunter was named to the Pro Football Writers of America's (PFWA) 2015 NFL All-Rookie team.[19]

2016

Hunter scored the first touchdown of his professional career on a 24-yard fumble return against the Tennessee Titans. Shortly after his fumble return, he broke through to sack Marcus Mariota deep in his own territory.[20] Against the Green Bay Packers in Week 2, he was credited with 4 tackles and a strip sack as the Vikings opened their new U.S. Bank Stadium with a 17–14 victory.[21] In Week 3 with the Vikings trailing 10-0 to the Carolina Panthers late in the first quarter, Hunter shoved left tackle Michael Oher to the turf and eluded guard Andrew Norwell to sack Cam Newton in the end zone for a safety. It was the first safety since Jared Allen had one on December 4, 2011 against the Denver Broncos.[22] Hunter had his first career multi-sack game in Week 11 against the Arizona Cardinals, helping the Vikings end their four-game losing streak. Against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 13, Hunter had his second two-sack game of the season. In 16 games with the Vikings in 2016, Hunter accumulated 54 total tackles, 12.5 sacks (including a safety), one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery for a touchdown despite the fact that he did not start a single game. He was also credited with 55 quarterback hurries according to Sam Monson at Pro Football Focus (PFF).[23] Hunter was the only Viking to be featured on NFL.com analyst Elliot Harrison's All-Under-25 team.[24]

2017

In week 4 against the Detroit Lions, Hunter sacked quarterback Matthew Stafford twice and defended a pass during the 14–7 loss. These sacks were Hunter's first of the season.[25] In week 8 against the Cleveland Browns in London, Hunter forced a fumble on running back Isaiah Crowell which was recovered by teammate Anthony Harris on the first offensive play of the second half. The Vikings eventually won the game 33–16.[26] Hunter recorded a sack in the next three games against the Redskins, Rams, and Lions respectively. Hunter finished the regular season with 45 tackles, 7 sacks, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, and two passes defended in 16 games started.[27]

In the divisional round of the playoffs against the New Orleans Saints, Hunter recorded one tackle during the 29–24 win which became known as the Minneapolis Miracle.[28] In the National Football Conference (NFC) Championship game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Hunter recorded 5 tackles and sacked Nick Foles once during the 38–7 loss.[29]

2018

On June 27, 2018, Hunter signed a five-year, $72 million extension with the Vikings with $40 million guaranteed and a $15 million signing bonus.[30] Hunter had a strong start to the 2018 season, recording at least one sack in each of the Vikings' first seven games, including 2 sacks against the Cardinals in Week 6.[31] In Week 9, Hunter recorded a career-high 3.5 sacks, nine tackles, and returned a fumble recovery 32 yards for a touchdown in a 24-9 win over the Lions, earning him NFC Defensive Player of the Week.[32] In that same game, the Vikings set a new franchise record with 10 sacks.[33] Hunter would finish the 2018 season with 72 total tackles, 14.5 sacks, 21 tackles for loss, and one fumble recovery for a touchdown.[31] Hunter's 14.5 sacks tied him with Von Miller for fourth most in the NFL.[34] For these efforts, Hunter was awarded his first trip to the Pro Bowl, where he recorded a sack against Andrew Luck.[35] In addition to the Pro Bowl nomination, Hunter was also named Second-team All-Pro by the Associated Press and First-team All-Pro by Sporting News and the PFWA.[36][37][38]

2019

In Week 1 against the Atlanta Falcons, Hunter recorded his first sack of the season on Matt Ryan as the Vikings won 28–12.[39] In Week 14 against the Lions, he sacked David Blough 3 times in the 20–7 win, earning him NFC Defensive Player of the Week.[40] In the game, Hunter became the youngest player in NFL history to reach 50 sacks.[41] Hunter finished the regular season with 70 tackles, 14.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery in 16 games started.[42] On December 17, 2019, Hunter was nominated to play in his second straight Pro Bowl.[43]

In the NFC Wild Card game against the New Orleans Saints, Hunter recorded a strip sack on Drew Brees which was recovered by teammate Jalyn Holmes during the 26–20 overtime win.[44] In the divisional round against the San Francisco 49ers, Hunter sacked Jimmy Garoppolo once during the 27–10 loss.[45]

2020

On September 9, 2020, Hunter was placed on injured reserve with a neck injury.[46] He underwent season-ending surgery to clean up a herniated disc in his neck.[47]

2021

Hunter started off the season in a torrid pace netting 6 sacks in the first 7 games when he suffered a season ending torn pectoral muscle placing him on injured reserve for the 2nd consecutive season.

2023

On July 30, 2023, Hunter signed a new one-year deal with the Vikings.[48]

In October, Hunter was named NFC Defensive Player of the Month for his strong performance.[49]

Houston Texans

On March 14, 2024, Hunter signed a two-year, $49 million contract with the Houston Texans.[50]

NFL career statistics

Legend
Led the league
Bold Career high

Regular season

Year Team Games Tackles Interceptions Fumbles
GP GS Cmb Solo Ast Sck Sfty PD Int Yds Avg Lng TD FF FR Yds TD
2015 MIN 14 1 33 29 4 6.0 0 0 0 0 0.0 0 0 1 0 0 0
2016 MIN 16 0 56 34 22 12.5 1 1 0 0 0.0 0 0 1 1 24 1
2017 MIN 16 16 45 27 18 7.0 0 2 0 0 0.0 0 0 1 1 0 0
2018 MIN 16 16 72 51 21 14.5 0 0 0 0 0.0 0 0 0 1 32 1
2019 MIN 16 16 70 52 18 14.5 0 0 0 0 0.0 0 0 3 1 4 0
2020 MIN 0 0 did not play due to injury
2021 MIN 7 7 38 23 15 6.0 0 0 0 0 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2022 MIN 17 17 65 46 19 10.5 0 3 0 0 0.0 0 0 1 0 0 0
2023 MIN 17 17 83 54 29 16.5 0 2 0 0 0.0 0 0 4 0 0 0
Career 119 90 462 316 146 87.5 1 8 0 0 0.0 0 0 11 4 60 2

Postseason

Year Team Games Tackles Interceptions Fumbles
GP GS Cmb Solo Ast Sck Sfty PD Int Yds Avg Lng TD FF FR Yds TD
2015 MIN 1 0 1 1 0 0.0 0 0 0 0 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2017 MIN 2 2 9 6 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2019 MIN 2 2 10 5 5 2.5 0 1 0 0 0.0 0 0 1 0 0 0
2023 MIN 1 1 4 3 1 1.0 0 0 0 0 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Career 6 5 24 15 9 4.5 0 1 0 0 0.0 0 0 1 0 0 0

References

  1. ^ "Danielle Hunter Bio". LSUsports.net. Archived from the original on November 2, 2012. Retrieved August 2, 2019.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  2. ^ "District 19-5A Meet - Results (FAT) (Raw)". Texas MileSplit. Retrieved August 2, 2019.
  3. ^ "Rivals.com biography". n.rivals.com. Retrieved August 2, 2019.
  4. ^ "Idaho at LSU Box Score, September 15, 2012". College Football at Sports-Reference.com. Retrieved August 2, 2019.
  5. ^ "Danielle Hunter 2012 Game Log". College Football at Sports-Reference.com. Retrieved August 2, 2019.
  6. ^ "Auburn at LSU Box Score, September 21, 2013". College Football at Sports-Reference.com. Retrieved August 2, 2019.
  7. ^ "Florida at LSU Box Score, October 12, 2013". College Football at Sports-Reference.com. Retrieved August 2, 2019.
  8. ^ "Outback Bowl - Iowa vs LSU Box Score, January 1, 2014". College Football at Sports-Reference.com. Retrieved August 2, 2019.
  9. ^ Rabalais, Scott. "Rabalais: Danielle Hunter a name to know for your fantasy team". The Advocate. Retrieved August 2, 2019.
  10. ^ "Spring prediction: Hunter's rush improves". ESPN.com. March 7, 2014. Retrieved August 2, 2019.
  11. ^ No. 13 LSU expects big jump from DE Hunter
  12. ^ Danielle Hunter is emerging as a dominant defender at the right time for LSU
  13. ^ LSU DE Danielle Hunter says he will enter the 2015 NFL Draft
  14. ^ "Danielle Hunter Draft and Combine Prospect Profile". NFL.com. Retrieved December 13, 2023.
  15. ^ "2015 NFL Draft Scout Danielle Hunter College Football Profile". DraftScout.com. Retrieved December 13, 2023.
  16. ^ "2015 NFL Draft Listing". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved May 15, 2023.
  17. ^ Goessling, Ben (May 1, 2015). "Total breakdown: Vikings draft DE Danielle Hunter in third round". ESPN.go.com. Retrieved May 20, 2015.
  18. ^ Danielle Hunter: The quiet storm waiting to wreak havoc on the rest of the NFL
  19. ^ 2015 PFWA All-Rookie Team
  20. ^ "Danielle Hunter on TD Fumble Return: 'I Just Scooped and Scored'". Archived from the original on October 11, 2016. Retrieved September 12, 2016.
  21. ^ Vikings defense going after big game-changers
  22. ^ Danielle Hunter sacks Cam Newton for a safety
  23. ^ Top 25 under 25: The NFL's best young players
  24. ^ Elliot Harrison's All-Under-25 team
  25. ^ "Dominant defense leads Lions to 14-7 victory over Vikings". www.espn.com. Associated Press. October 1, 2017. Retrieved March 30, 2020.
  26. ^ "Keenum, Forbath help Vikings win 33-16 vs. Browns in London". www.espn.com. Associated Press. October 29, 2017. Retrieved March 30, 2020.
  27. ^ "Danielle Hunter 2017 Game Log". www.pro-football-reference.com. Retrieved March 30, 2020.
  28. ^ "Stunner: Keenum-Diggs TD on last play; Vikes win 29-24". www.espn.com. Associated Press. January 14, 2018. Retrieved March 30, 2020.
  29. ^ "Foles, Eagles fly into Super Bowl, rout Vikings". www.espn.com. Associated Press. January 21, 2018. Retrieved March 30, 2020.
  30. ^ Teope, Herbie (June 27, 2018). "Vikings' Danielle Hunter lands 5-year, $72M extension". NFL.com.
  31. ^ a b "Danielle Hunter Stats". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
  32. ^ "Kareem Hunt, Michael Thomas among Players of the Week". NFL.com. November 7, 2018.
  33. ^ "Vikings Sack Matthew Stafford 10 Times, Set Franchise Record". SI.com. November 4, 2018. Retrieved November 9, 2018.
  34. ^ "2018 NFL Defense". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
  35. ^ "Hunter with a sack, Thielen with an INT, and more Vikings' Pro Bowl highlights". Vikings Wire. January 27, 2019. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
  36. ^ "2018 AP All-Pro Team". USA TODAY. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
  37. ^ PFWA (January 15, 2019). "PFWA 2018 All-NFL, All-AFC and All-NFC teams | PFWA". Retrieved February 5, 2019.
  38. ^ "Sporting News NFL All-Pro team: Coaches select league's best for 2018". Sporting News. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
  39. ^ "Vikings trample Falcons 28-12 behind fierce defense, Cook". www.espn.com. Associated Press. September 8, 2019. Retrieved September 8, 2019.
  40. ^ Bergman, Jeremy (December 11, 2019). "Ryan Tannehill, Jimmy Garoppolo among Players of the Week". NFL.com.
  41. ^ "Defense delivers as Vikings sail past Lions 20-7". www.espn.com. December 8, 2019. Retrieved December 8, 2019.
  42. ^ "Danielle Hunter 2019 Game Log". www.pro-football-reference.com. Retrieved March 30, 2020.
  43. ^ Gates, Christopher (December 17, 2019). "Dalvin Cook, Danielle Hunter, Harrison Smith named to Pro Bowl". dailynorseman.com. Retrieved March 30, 2020.
  44. ^ "Cook, Vikings upend Saints 26-20 in OT in NFC playoffs". www.espn.com. Associated Press. January 5, 2020. Retrieved January 5, 2020.
  45. ^ "49ers win 1st playoff game in 6 years, 27-10 over Vikings". www.espn.com. Associated Press. January 11, 2020. Retrieved January 11, 2020.
  46. ^ "Minnesota Vikings place Pro Bowl DE Danielle Hunter on injured reserve". ESPN. September 9, 2020.
  47. ^ Patra, Kevin (October 22, 2020). "Vikings DE Danielle Hunter to undergo surgery, out for rest of season". NFL.com.
  48. ^ Peters, Craig (July 30, 2023). "Vikings Reach Deal with Danielle Hunter". Vikings.com.
  49. ^ Gordon, Grant. "Dolphins WR Tyreek Hill, Eagles WR A.J. Brown highlight October Players of the Month". NFL. Retrieved November 2, 2023.
  50. ^ "Houston Texans Transactions (03-14-2024)". NFL. March 14, 2024. Retrieved March 14, 2024.

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