By Jerry Del Priore
Kamari Jones-Hunter and his Mother Nicole at their home in Starrett City, Brooklyn.
Kamari Jones-Hunter and his mother, Nicole, agonized over the numerous college offers he had garnered over the past few months.
The five-eleven, 265-pound nose tackle enjoyed a successful run at Monroe College in New Rochelle, a football program that plays in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA).
But it came time to decide where Jones-Hunter, 20, who registered 14.5 sacks in his final season with the Mustangs, was going to study and play at the next level.
They said there were over 14 official athletic scholarship offers and expressed interest from Division II colleges.
After going back and forth for a while, Jones-Hunter recently chose LIU Post in Brookville, Long Island, the same school his high school football coach-Kyle Allen at Canarsie Education Campus (CEC)-attended.
Jones-Hunter said most of his conversations with friends and family revolved around what school he was going to go to.
“That’s all everybody asked. Of course, that’s going to be on everybody’s mind,” Jones-Hunter said. “I was stressed out the whole process. I am kind of glad it’s over with.”
Jones-Hunter said Allen didn’t sway him toward his old college, just advised him on the positives and negatives of each school, and left the final choice up to him.
“I just guided the horse to water,” Allen said, “and he drank.”
Though many people believe the defensive stalwart has what it takes to play at a Division I college, including several of his old coaches, Jones-Hunter said D-1 coaches were a little skeptical because he isn’t taller.
But Allen, beaming with pride over his former player, feels LIU Post is still a good fit and opportunity for him—no matter that it’s a D-II program—both academically and athletically.
Kamari Jones-Hunter at Monroe College.
“First off, I’m real proud of the kid to leave here (CEC) and go to a good academic school, with a successful football program,” Allen said. “It makes me feel good, not only as a coach, but as a parent. He put himself in good position to succeed.”
The Ex-Chief two-way standout, who has turned his academics around since his high school days, said the Pioneers, a team in the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC), gave him a full ride, including paying for books. Plus, the proximity to Starrett City, Brooklyn, as the main reasons why he selected the school.
In addition, Jones-Hunter said LIU Post’s recent success as a program that finished with a 12-1 record and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division II Championship as another motive for his college choice.
As for what type of person and player the Pioneers will be getting, Monroe College defensive line coach Michael Kennedy Jr. said, “As far as Kamari, I think he is a really special person to be around, and is very loyal. He made coming to work very enjoyable, with not only his humor but his focus and leadership.
“As far as his on the field work ethic, no one was close,” the coach continued. “He brought it and competed every day. Never took days off.”
Though Kennedy didn’t doubt that his lack of height limited his D-I options in some coaches’ eyes, he said it didn’t faze Hunter-Jones one bit when it came time to ball out.
“He consistently played bigger O-linemen and had very good success,” he said. “I think LIU is getting a steal with him.”
Instead of the D-1 passover letting it get him down, Jones-Hunter is using the snub as motivation to succeed, and to set an example for other student-athletes in the similar situation.
“A lot big schools skipped over me because of my height,” said Jones-Hunter, who graduated a semester earlier and is already attending LIU Post.
“I feel by them skipping over me made me want to go back into the lab and work harder and never look back or second guess my talent,” he added. “I plan to show that I’m just as good as any player out there, no matter my size. My heart, love, desire and passion for the game is so strong and I plan to show inner city kids it doesn’t matter where you go; it’s what you do when you get there.”