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Highly Sought-After DE Hunter Osborne Looking to 'Build On Relationships' During Upcoming Visit to Rocky Top

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2023 Trussville (Ala) Hewitt-Trussvile High School defensive lineman Hunter Osborne is one of the most sought-after prospects in the nation, regardless of position. With over 50 Division 1 offers in hand, Osborne recently made the decision to narrow his focus to six schools, including Tennessee, who was left outside of his previous shortlist of favorites in March. He discusses the Vols surge in his recruitment and more here. 

"I told them as soon as I dropped my top ten (in March) that I was still considering them, but I just had to choose one school or the other. I am not going to say which school I chose over them at the time, but as soon as I dropped it, I was texting Coach Garner and told him, 'I want to keep this relationship going," Osborne said of Tennessee working their way back into his shortlist of favorites. He agreed with me and said he understood. We have been talking almost daily ever since then. I love Coach Heupel, and we talk weekly. I see the vision that he has there, and he is already bringing Tennessee to other places after his first year. With Coach Garner, everyone respects him in this industry as a great coach, so it is always in the back of my head that if I go to Tennessee, I will be developed. With Nico coming there and starting off that big class for 2023, I can see several others going there as well and thinking the same things. So I had to include them in my top six."

Osborne will return to Knoxville this weekend for his second visit in as many months. The Vols will look to continue to build on the momentum they have worked to gain back in this recruitment.

"Really, I am just looking to keep building on the relationship and talk to some other guys that are considering Tennessee," Osborne said of what he will look for on this weekend's trip to Rocky Top. "Ask them what they like and think about the program. But it will really just be about keeping on building a relationship with the coaches. I would like to talk to some players and meet some more people face-to-face. I am not really looking for anything in particular other than getting to spend more time with the staff."

Veteran defensive line coach Rodney Garner is leading the charge for the Vols in this recruitment, and he is a major reason the Vols are now one of the favorites for the 6'3", 250lbs defensive end.

"It means a lot because I know how well respected he is," Osborne said of the opportunity to play for Garner, who has been a long-term developer of elite talent. "It is an honor to have the chance to play for him. He is a great guy outside of football, too. We talk frequently, and it is about more than just football. We talk about life, and how things are going on around me, so he shows he cares about you as more than just a football player. It is definitely a blessing."

The Vols will host Osborne during the weekend of June 24th for one of his five official visits, which will be another opportunity for them to reinforce how much of. a priority he is to them. His goal is to make a commitment decision by the second game of his senior season, and he knows what he is looking for in a school. 

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"Definitely just the relationships I have with the coaches," Osborne said of this. " Showing I am a want and a need for their program. The relationship they have with my family. My parents have to feel comfortable with me going to a program for 3-4 years. It is my decision, but I want them to feel comfortable with it—the development and how they plan to use me for the next three to four years."

Before getting to college, Osborne will once again suit for perennial powerhouse Hewitt-Trussville, where his play over the last three seasons has helped him become a household name in the recruiting world.

"I play with a very high IQ in my opinion," Osborne said of what he believes sets his game apart at this stage. "At my age, I understand the game really well and I am very versatile. You can put me on the line at any spot and I'll get the job done. Really just being a leader on the D-line, the high motor, the good hands, and I play the run game really well. I've been working on getting better with my bend, but I do think that's what makes me the player I am. Definitely just how I read the game, break down the game and use my brain to play football."

So what is the coveted prospect looking at when he lines up between those white lines?

"First thing I do is look at personnel," he said of this. "What personnel is it, how many receivers are out there, how many running backs do we have in the backfield, is there a tight end on the line or not. If there's a tight end, line up in the correct alignment with the tight end. Say there's not a tight end, and I'm looking at a tackle. I'm looking at his knee, where his feet are at, and if I'm going into a game I've watched film on that tackle. I know how his stance is, when he's pulling, when he's trying to reach me, just regular base block, all of that. So when it comes to the game I'm prepared."

Still, despite already having experienced ample success at the prep level, Osborne is hungry for more. Heading into his senior season, Osborne is focused on becoming more of a force as a pass rusher.

"Definitely my pass rush," he said of where he wants to see his game improve the most. "That was my main thing over the summer and in the off-season. And when I get to a college, they'll put the weight on and get me into the size they want me to be at. So I would say my pass rush."

For Osborne's full breakdown of his top schools, click here.