Brice Gunter is catching up

CEDAR HILL, Texas -- After watching junior Brice Gunter make catch after catch during the Dallas Under Armour Sevens on Saturday, it'd be hard for anyone to believe he had zero catches as a sophomore.

In fact, the Stephenville (Texas) High School receiver said he was thrown to all of two times in 2010 -- and both attempts were too high.

Let's just say he's now made up for lost times. Saturday was Gunter's time to shine in front of the top programs in the Dallas area, as he put on an outstanding show in assisting Stephenville -- a central Texas power -- to the UA Sevens title at Cedar Hill High School.

"For us, just coming out and playing these guys and being able to hang with the big schools, that ups our confidence," said Gunter, who caught three touchdowns in the tournament finals against Abilene (Texas) Cooper. "I'm not going to say we're overconfident, because we know we still have to keep working and playing for that state championship."

Had the award been offered, Gunter would have been a legitimate candidate for the tournament's most valuable player. His stats this past season support his impressive tournament showing. Gunter caught 69 passes for 1,099 yards and 15 touchdowns in his only year as a varsity starter. Additionally, he was a finalist for the Gatorade Texas Football Player of the Year.

At 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds, Gunter took advantages of smaller defensive backs with his size and surprised defenders with his speed. Gunter runs a deceptive 4.56-second 40-yard dash. When he's in pads, he's one of the receivers, when he's not catching passes, who likes to lay the good lick on opposing players in an effort to spring a running back or fellow receiver.

One person who has been involved in Hunter's development is Kevin Benjamin, the wide receivers coach at Cedar Hill. Benjamin is Gunter's uncle and someone who saw Gunter grow at Cedar Hill camps when he was younger.

"He's really strong, especially on that inside slant route," Benjamin said. "He uses his body well. Once the ball gets to his hands, he's usually pretty solid with it. His size always gives him an opportunity, and he's not afraid to go across the middle and make plays.

"Once the ball is in the air, his focus is the ball, and his hands are true. He works and wills his way into being a good receiver. With us being [Class] 5A and his team being 3A, I'm just glad we don't have to line up against him."

Gunter's solid numbers make for great conversation starters, but few outside the Stephenville circle know that he's a converted receiver. Gunter played safety throughout his junior high years -- and still sees time in the secondary -- but was moved primarily to receiver once he got to high school.

His lack of time at the receiver spot may be the reason why he only has an offer from Air Force. Baylor, SMU, Tulsa and Houston have shown interest, but Gunter said his phone hasn't been ringing much in regards to college scouts.

"Maybe it's just not meant to be right now," Gunter said. "I don't think about it too much, but it does motivate me to work harder."

Gunter added that he's hoping the summer will equate to a huge recruiting season. Performing well at the UA Sevens was a great start. Watching his numbers skyrocket his junior season after a subpar sophomore season, Gunter said he will enter the summer with one goal in mind.

"If the ball's up in the air, it's mine," he said.