Here’s a kicker: HPA soccer standout to play football at Georgetown

  • (Rick Winters/West Hawaii Today) Hawaii Prep's Conor Hunt makes the second of two field goals against Honokaa during the first quarter of Friday's BIIF Division II game at Honokaa High School.

Hawaii Prep senior Conor Hunt recently signed a national letter of intent with Georgetown, a school famous for its men’s basketball program.

But Hunt is going there to kick and punt for the football team, which plays in the Patriot League, a small step down from the Ivy League.

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Unlike field players who need to be seen at camps to get on recruiting radars, Hunt didn’t go to any camps. Well, except for one: Chris Sailer’s kicking camp.

For a sizable fee, kickers compete against each other and are ranked on Sailer’s website. Hunt was No. 32 as a kicker and No. 11 as a punter.

“I committed to Georgetown last year and to make it official felt special,” he said. “All my hard work paid off, and I’m getting recognition now.”

Hunt figures to get on the field early for the Hoyas, who graduate their starting kicker/punter and return a sophomore, who rarely played.

He grew up as a soccer player, starting when he was 5 years old. In the eighth grade, he decided to give kicking a try and found his fit.

“My New Year’s resolution on Jan. 1, 2016 at to try kicking a football,” Hun said. “That week I started and every day since then I’ve put in a couple hours of practicing.

“My mentality was I wanted to be good at it and I wanted to go to college. I’ve worked at it every day to get better. I want to play in the league (NFL) one day. That’s my ultimate goal.”

He and his sophomore brother Mason are on the HPA soccer team. He’s never had the opportunity to attempt a game-winning field goal. But he’s been in penalty kicks for soccer.

If there’s any pressure from a pressure kick, he’ll put it in a tomato can and kick it down the street. He’s confident to kick with the game on the line. At practice, he’s kicked field goals from 60 yards and his range is 50 yards and in.

He recently returned from his official visit and enjoyed his time at the campus located In Washington, D.C.

“I got back two weeks ago from my official visit,” he said. “I fell in love with the campus. They’re redoing the locker room and the bleachers. The football field is right in the middle of the school’s buildings. You can watch from the windows. That was kind of neat.”

That could be a strong selling point: study English and turn your head and watch the Hoyas beat Columbia in football.

Hunt follows a routine. He goes to the gym before school starts to do weight training. After school, he’ll kick balls and record the session on his phone to self-correct himself.

He’s picked Green Bay Packers punter JK Scott as a role model. Scott went to Alabama and was drafted in the fifth round in 2018.

“I look up to him,” Hunt said. “I’ve watched his highlight video. He went to the same camp I did. He was in a spot I’m in. That’s the kind of destiny I could have.”

Hunt’s favorite kicker is Houston Texan Ka’imi Fairbairn, who went to Punahou and UCLA, where he was a first-team All-American.

His pro tale is of perseverance. Despite being awarded the Lou Groza award, as the nation’s top college kicker in 2015, he went undrafted out of college. He signed with the Texas and was named their kicker in 2017.

Hunt has practiced as a safety and cornerback but never saw much playing time. He didn’t grow up with a dream to throw a game-winning touchdown pass in the Super Bowl. Instead his dream was kicking the ball.

The appeal for being in a different type of spotlight is significant to him.

“The appeal of kicking? Good question,” he said. “Being a kicker there’s not much action, but you do have a moment when the game is on the line, win or lose. Being a part of that hype is what I like. I think I thrive under pressure. When it comes down to it, I want to be the guy in the spotlight.”

He credited his parents Steven and Lauren Hunt for providing the opportunities in his life. He made the most of his shot at Chris Sailer’s camp. That opened a door to Georgetown, a step in the right direction for him.

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When he gets on campus and isn’t working on his craft, there’s one place Hunt will be.

“For sure, I’ll definitely watch some basketball games,” he said.

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