Hunley joins talented group at Saint Francis Cougars look to replace Coate, McDowell and Kelsaw.

East Noble High School senior wide receiver Dylan Hunley loves to compete. That’ll be a valuable trait as he heads to the University of Saint Francis.

Hunley’s numbers show he’s an outstanding wide receiver. He caught 95 passes for 1,479 yards and 21 touchdowns. That’s an average of 134.5 yards per game, which is incredibly impressive at the high school level.

Hunley enters a Saint Francis program – coming off its first NAIA national title – that has always been wide receiver friendly. Seth Coate, who graduated in December after a record-setting career, is getting some NFL interest. Two of the other Saint Francis starters, Montay McDowell and Akeim Kelsaw, were also seniors.

So the wide receiver race is wide open as Hunley steps in, along with fellow recruits Shane McCormick of Crown Point, Matt Kominkiewicz of Penn and Casey Coll and Derek Lucas, both of Tri-West.

It’s also a crowded race.

There will likely be 20 or more wide receivers competing for playing time. Five or six will see the bulk of the time when the competition is over, with three or four being featured. <br> Those with the most returning experience, including seniors-to-be Sean Boswell and Charles Gaston, sophomore-to-be Rocky James and returning-from-injury junior Andreas Gomez-Espino, could have the initial edge, along with those who have had a year in the program, including Will Chrisman and Duke Blackwell.

But it will be quite a battle.

“I want to compete,” Hunley said. “Ask anyone who knows me, I’m really competitive. I hate to lose. It’s awesome to compete and I’m excited about it.”

Hunley had a number of college interested in him, including Marian, Grand Valley and Valparaiso and he talked to Western Michigan prior to their coaching change.

“I talked with everybody in my family and they wanted me to go to Saint Francis,” Hunley said. “It’s a half hour away from home, plus it’s an awesome program. I would say I knew I wanted to go there before they won the national title.”

Hunley was encouraged by friends in the program, including Landon Myers (a Bishop Dwenger alum) and Connor Holcomb (an East Noble alum).

“It’ll be great having Nick Ferrer (at quarterback),” Hunley said. “I didn’t want to go somewhere where they only pass the ball a couple times a series. I wanted to go somewhere where they air it out.”

Hunley, who is 6-foot, 175 pounds, said he wants to build up his strength and speed. He has been a receiver his entire career, modeling his game after former Indianapolis Colts receiver Marvin Harrsion. He could play on the outside or in a slot position, depending on where Saint Francis coaches feel he is the best fit.

Coate, McDowell and Kelsaw combined for 157 receptions, 2,875 yards and 38 touchdowns last season.

“I’m kind of hoping they give me the opportunity right way to show what I can do,” Hunley said. <br>

<i> Follow Reggie Hayes on Twitter at reggiehayes1. </i><br>

<center> 2017 Saint Francis football recruits </center><br>

Name. position. high school

Ryder Burchett, OL, Greenwood

Casey Coll, WB/WR, Tri-West

Austin Dreyer, OL, Noblesville

Cade Erwin, LB, East Noble

Justin Groves, DL, South Bend St. Joe

QaMari Hassan, DB, Wayne

Dylan Hunley, WR, East Noble

David Judy, OL, New Palestine

Adam Kincaid, DB, New Palestine

Matt Kominkiewicz, WR, Penn

Derek Lucas, WR, Tri-West

Shane McCormick, WR, Crown Point

Anthony Moore, DB, Toledo St. John (Ohio)

Jalen Moss, DB, Fishers

Fabieon Pearson, DB, Wayne

Jorge Quintana, OL, Plymouth

Sean Roch’e, DB, Merrillville

Rece Roney, OT, Columbus Grove (Ohio)

Eli Wallace, RB, Lakeland

Ian Wellman, OL, Adams Central

Spencer West, DE, Columbus North