The Notre Dame football team has another potential two-sport star on its hands after announcing on Friday that wide receiver Torii hunter, Jr will be playing baseball for the Fighting Irish this spring.
Baseball isn’t new to Hunter, his father is an accomplished major league ball player. A 5-time All-Star outfielder, Hunter just completed his 18th season in the majors and signed a free agent deal with the Minnesota Twins this off-season.
Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly signed off on the decision based mainly on Hunter’s work in the classroom.
“This is something we wouldn’t have considered if not for the fact that Torii is an outstanding student,” said Notre Dame head football coach Brian Kelly. “Coach Aoki and I have the utmost confidence in Torii to be able to handle his duties in the classroom in addition to his responsibilities to both teams.”
The younger Hunter has always been around the game and played in high school. He had always planned on playing baseball on the college level, but his gruesome leg injury suffered at the US Army All-American Bowl following his senior season forced him to focus his first couple years at Notre Dame on rehabbing and getting healthy after a couple setbacks along the way.
This past season Hunter made his collegiate debut after a redshirt season in 2013. In his debut performance, the first catch of his career went for a touchdown against Syracuse at Met-Life Stadium. On the season, however, Hunter had a hard time seeing regular playing time in the deep Notre Dame wide receiver corps and caught just 7 passes for 65 yards all season.
Heading into next season, more playing time on the gridiron could be on the horizon for the younger Hunter. Notre Dame has not had a consistent threat out of the slot position even though CJ Prosise started to show a lot of promise towards the end of his second season at the position. Hunter though has a chance to earn more playing time and will battle with Prosise and potentially Amir Carlisle.
Two-sport stars on the Notre Dame football team are not new. Jeff Samardzija, Golden Tate, and Evan Sharpley have all played baseball in addition to football over the last few years for the Irish. Current Notre Dame basketball standout Pat Connaughton is also a highly regarded major league prospect after being draft in the 4th round of the MLB Amateur Draft by the Baltimore Orioles last year.