Joel Hunt

Swansboro High School senior Joel Hunt poses for a photo in a Lenoir-Rhyne uniform. Hunt caught 14 touchdown passes in 11 games for the Pirates last fall. 

Swansboro High School’s top wide receiver from last season is headed to Division II title contender Lenoir-Rhyne University this fall. Joel Hunt joins the Bears after totaling over 1,100 yards receiving in 2019 and setting single-season school records in receptions with 63 and receiving touchdowns at 14.

After a 6-1 start, the Pirates finished the season 6-5, but it was a memorable year for Swansboro and its senior class.

“It was the leadership,” Hunt said about the difference maker in 2019. “We knew it was our last year so we did it for each other, and we really listened to the coaches.”

Hunt, whose father served 20 years in the U.S. Navy, said that once he visited the LRU campus in Hickory, North Carolina he knew it was a good fit.

“It really just felt like home,” Hunt said. “I had a great bond with all the players there. They really just welcomed me in.”

Over the past two years, Lenoir-Rhyne has been one of the nation’s best Division II teams. Since 2018, the Bears have gone 25-3 and made the national quarterfinals twice. Most recently, they were upset 43-38 by No. 20 West Florida, the 2019 champion.

Hunt is one of four freshman receivers out of 27 total recruits for LRU. He hopes to step in at the slot receiver position in a new offense that will help get the Bears over the hump in the playoffs.

“I just want to keep the tradition going of success there and continue to be the top in the nation, win conference championships and help my team out to be the best that they can be,” Hunt said.

At least three other Swansboro seniors are expected to make their collegiate debuts this fall - RJ Belk (Methodist), Grant Russell (NC Wesleyan) and Brendan Lawson (undecided).