Could we see a two-way player like Travis Hunter at Kentucky? We asked Mark Stoops.

The talk of college football this week has not just been about Coach Prime’s dazzling Colorado coaching debut in which Deion Sanders’ Buffs knocked off host and 17th-ranked TCU.

People are still buzzing about the two-way heroics of Colorado’s Travis Hunter.

A starter on both offense and defense, Hunter played a ridiculous 129 snaps in Colorado’s 45-42 victory. On offense, Hunter made 11 catches for 119 yards. On defense, Hunter made a diving interception that stopped a 95-yard drive by the Horned Frogs.

The 6-foot-1, 185-pound sophomore from Suwanee, Georgia, who played for Sanders last year at Jackson State, did all of that in the 100-degree heat of Fort Worth.

After Kentucky’s Thursday practice in preparation for Saturday’s game with Eastern Kentucky, I asked UK coach Mark Stoops if he’s had any players who wanted to go both ways and could this become a trend?

“Yes, I’ve had some that wanted to do that,” Stoops said. “You have to be able to handle it. What he did is truly remarkable. Give him a lot of credit. First of all, you have to be an exceptional athlete to be in that type of shape and condition in that type of heat in Texas to go play over 100 snaps (and) play both ways. It’s remarkable. Give him a lot of credit.”

Colorado’s Travis Hunter (12) starred on offense as a wide receiver and on defense as a cornerback in the Buffaloes’ season-opening win at TCU.
Colorado’s Travis Hunter (12) starred on offense as a wide receiver and on defense as a cornerback in the Buffaloes’ season-opening win at TCU.

Coming out of high school, Hunter was a five-star recruit ranked by scouting services as the top prospect in the class of 2022. After his freshman year at Jackson State, Hunter followed Sanders to Boulder.

“I do think that special players — and I’ve said this before in different ways — when you have future first-round draft picks and those types of players, they can play ball all day,” Stoops said. “A lot of them can play ball. And we’ve had our fair share here. I don’t think anybody who could play to that level on both sides of the ball, but never say never. We’ll see.”

Stoops was reminded that former UK star Lynn Bowden lobbied to play both sides of the ball.

“Yeah, he did,” Stoops said. “But as he got going, his last year he had a pretty heavy load on him. If I’d played him both ways in his last game, I don’t know if he’d have made it, you know what I mean.”

Bowden’s final college game was Kentucky’s 37-30 victory over Virginia Tech in the 2019 Belk Bowl in Charlotte. Injuries caused then-offensive coordinator Eddie Gran to move Bowden from wide receiver to quarterback midway through the season. In the bowl game, Bowden rushed 34 times for 233 yards and two touchdowns, while completing six of 12 passes for 73 yards and a score.

With Kentucky trailing the Hokies 30-24 in the fourth quarter, Bowden led an 18-play, 85-yard drive that culminated with the QB hitting Josh Ali for a 13-yard touchdown with just 15 seconds remaining. The extra point put the Cats in front.

By the way, Bowden begins the 2023 NFL season as a wide receiver on the practice squad of the New Orleans Saints, who play host to the Tennessee Titans in Sunday’s opener.

Meanwhile, Hunter and Colorado play at Nebraska on Saturday. It’s a noon game on Fox.

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