Sports Journalism Blog

By Jack Wright

Sports Capital Journalism Program

INDIANAPOLIS — Jalyx Hunt is the first player to ever receive an invitation to the National Football League Scouting Combine from Houston Christian University, a small private school in the Southland Conference. Initially recruited out of high school as a wide receiver and cornerback, Hunt grew to 6-foot-4 and 248 pounds and staked his claim as an edge rusher. This week, he was assigned a Combine number just the same as Chop Robinson or T’Vondre Sweat.

Hunt spent two seasons at Cornell before transferring to HCU, and he is well aware that his path here has not been in the spotlight as it has been for some of his peers.

“This is huge,” Hunt said. “This is a level playing field. This is not about the resources you have or publicity you get. We’re all getting the same publicity right now. This is huge for me to be stacked up evenly against these amazing athletes – it’s an opportunity for me to explode.”

That is exactly what this week is all about – opportunity. The excitement is present on Hunt’s face as he talks through some of his past experiences and the days to come; it is humanizing to see a prospect like Hunt express his passion for the moment.

When asked simply about the potential to play in the NFL being realized this week, he stated, “Just to know that I’m in great company, it really hit me.” For some competitors on the podiums around him, a trip to the Combine has been expected for a long time. Hunt simply seems poised to make the most of some old-school drills and rapid-fire interviews.

Hunt was the Southland Conference Defensive Player of the Year and became a finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award. His 46 tackles included nine tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and an interception returned for a touchdown.

One of his peers with a different perspective but familiar title is Alabama interior defensive lineman Justin Eboigbe. Coach Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide are no strangers to churning out NFL talent, and Eboigbe will soon become another name on that list. Unlike Hunt, Eboigbe has a network of players to emulate in his journey through the Combine and into the league. “There’s a lot of guys that have come and shown the blueprint,” Eboigbe said. “Quinnen Williams, Raekwon Davis, Christian Barmore, Phidarian Mathis, then Byron Young who I came in with, so I wanted to be a guy who can follow along that tradition.”

Eboigbe, a 2023 first-team All-Southeastern Conference selection in a vote of the coaches, fought back from a season-ending neck injury during the 2022 season to record 64 tackles last season, 11.5 for loss.

Now he aims to sell himself to NFL scouts, coaches and executives for the chance to walk the stage in Detroit as early as possible.

“At the end of the day the Combine is great,” he said. “You get to showcase your athletic ability, but film doesn’t lie. I played in one of the best conferences, if not the best conference – played against some of the best talent, if not the best talent in college football.” With a response like that, an NFL organization could see that Eboigbe has his sights set on success far beyond these several days.

Over a multitude of interviews, it is clear that the defensive linemen in this year’s class have prepared for the draft by studying Super Bowl champions such as Chris Jones and Aaron Donald. History says that NFL fans may only see one or two players of that caliber in one draft. Hunt and Eboigbe are eager to demonstrate at Lucas Oil Stadium what they would bring to an NFL roster.