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2015 NFL DRAFT
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Devin Hester

Height: 5-11 | Weight: 190 | College: Miami (Fla.)
 
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Overview

During his time with the Hurricanes, Hester established himself as one of the nation's most exciting and explosive all-purpose players. A three-way threat on offense, defense and special teams, he proved he could score anytime he touched the ball. In addition to returning punts and kickoffs, Hester performed on all of the special teams coverage and kick-blocking units.

During his time at Suncoast High School, Hester was widely regarded as one of the nation's finest two-way players. He played extensively at running back, receiver, defensive back and as a return specialist. Hester earned Parade and USA Today first-team All-America honors. Super Prep rated him the best prospect in Florida and the sixth-best prospect in the nation, regardless of position. He earned National Elite 50 and All-America status from that publication. He was a member of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Super Southern 100 and was rated the nation's best cornerback on Max Emfinger's National Top 125 List.

Hester earned first-team Class 3A All-State honors as a senior and was a member of Sunshine Network's All-Gridiron Team. He rushed for 1,014 yards and 12 touchdowns on 94 carries while compiling 1,028 yards receiving on 38 catches with nine scores, in addition to throwing for five touchdowns and 225 yards as a senior. He made 156 tackles (75 solos), had three quarterback sacks, caused three fumbles and recovered a fumble as a senior on defense.

Hester was named the MVP of the Cali-Florida All-Star game, in which he returned a kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown and had an interception and three tackles on defense. He was also a track standout, earning All-America honors and a No. 2 national ranking in the long jump during his junior year.

Hester originally enrolled at Miami in 2002, but did not get on the field until the 2003 season. He ranked sixth nationally in kickoff return average at 28.7 yards on 18 attempts with a touchdown. He also saw some action as a receiver, catching four passes for 116 yards (29.0 avg), adding 26 yards on four reverses.

He switched to cornerback in 2004, starting twice at nickel back. He also performed as a tailback and fullback, in addition to handling all return duties. Hester finished with 20 tackles (12 solos), five pass deflections, four interceptions and a blocked kick on defense. He had a 25-yard reception and four carries for 40 yards and a touchdown on offense. He ranked sixth in the nation with 19 punt returns for 326 yards (17.2 avg) and three scores. He also ranked ninth nationally with a 25.9-yard average on 15 kickoff returns.

Hamstring problems and subpar play saw Hester bounce from cornerback to wide receiver to tailback in 2005, as the coaching staff struggled to find him a home. He only made 11 solo tackles with an interception on defense, adding 94 yards on 15 carries and 55 yards on five receptions on offense. His return duties also suffered because of nagging injuries, as he gained 312 yards on 22 punt returns (14.2 avg) with a touchdown and averaged 16.1 yards on seven kickoff returns.

In 32 games with the Hurricanes, Hester started six times. He finished his career with 33 tackles (24 solos) with a 4-yard sack and two stops for losses of 7 yards. He intercepted five passes for 57 yards in returns, deflected six throws and blocked a kick on defense. He caught 10 passes for 196 yards and rushed 24 times for 160 yards (6.7 avg) and a score on offense. He also returned 41 punts for 638 yards (15.6 avg) and four touchdowns, adding 1,019 yards and two scores on 40 kickoff returns (25.5 avg).

Analysis

Positives: Has excellent acceleration and timed speed … Shows loose hips and fine change of direction agility to elude defenders in the open … Demonstrates valid hands to extend and pluck the ball, holding on to it securely on returns … Patient letting his wedge develop and has the burst to squeeze through tight quarters to gain big yardage on his runbacks … Can explode through the crowd and has the lateral range to break free, redirect and take the ball to the house … Has natural hands to field the ball cleanly, whether on returns or on interceptions … Has the leaping ability to get to the ball at its high point.

Negatives: Lacks route awareness, as he fails to uncover … Struggles to escape press coverage due to a lack of strength and marginal hand usage … Has marginal courage going for the pass in traffic (plays small), generally losing focus on the ball when he "hears the feet" of defenders closing on him … Poor route-runner who rounds his cuts and gathers at times … Has not really learned how to use his quickness to pop out of cuts to get separation … When not involved in the play, he is quick to throttle down … Shows little desire to face up as a blocker in pass protection (just hangs on and gets rejected too often) … Good leaper, but appears hesitant in attempts to combat for the ball … As a defender, he shows poor tackle technique, attacking at the ankles rather than wrapping up … Relies too much on his speed to recover, allowing too much of a cushion … Has marginal vision, as he bites constantly on play action and misdirection … Seems to get lost trying to locate the ball … Not the type that will come up with aggression when asked to play inside the box … Turns late and will bite and get out of position in man coverage … Struggles to come out of his breaks cleanly as a defensive back (will stumble at times and double step) … Struggled with academics and needs to show better work ethic.

Hester has a lean, athletic build with some muscle definition. He is built more along the lines of a receiver than a defensive back (lacks bulk), but has long arms, very tight waist and hips and excellent open field acceleration. He shows above average flexibility and leaping ability. He also has above average change of direction skills and balance.

This is an athlete built for speed. He does not need to throttle down in order to change gears and has that explosive second gear to win most foot races in the open. Despite all of his speed and athletic ability, he has yet to grasp the mental aspect of the game. The major reason he has yet to settle down at one position is his inability to learn football.

On defense, he would constantly bite on play action and misdirection. He showed marginal strength to be effective in press coverage and a lack of awareness. He seems to look lost trying to locate the ball and will bite and get caught out of position often. Hester has natural hands and can time his jumps to make the interception, but he gives minimal effort in run support and lacks aggression when asked to step up and make plays near the line of scrimmage.

Hester has good change of direction agility and good flexibility in his turns out of his backpedal. He shows loose hips to stay on top of the route, but gets caught out of position often and fails to use his hands effectively to jam the receiver at the line. In man coverage, he shows too much confidence in his speed, allowing too much cushion and shows only an adequate effort to recover.

In run support, Hester lacks aggression and is too inconsistent in his effort. He is hesitant to come up and take on blocks and shies away from fitting in traffic vs. the run. While he can run with any receiver, he is slow to react to plays in front of him and is best when having to cover in the deep zone, where he can utilize his speed. He is more of an ankle biter as a tackler, failing to get his hands on the receiver to bring him down. He shows poor judgment playing the zone and does not anticipate the opponents coming out of their breaks.

On offense, he shows no concept for route assignments. He will round his breaks and gather at times. He does a poor job of locating open areas and needs to do a better job of adjusting in his patterns. He does a decent job of catching outside his frame and a good job with ball security. He is just too sloppy and high in his patterns, as he shuffles his feet and seems to lack the vision to create after the catch.

Hester still has not figured out how to use his quickness to pop out of his cuts to get separation. His cuts are more soft angle types than precise and while he can generate excellent acceleration and thrust in his initial release, he needs to learn how to use his speed to explode into his routes. He also struggles trying to get his head around to locate the ball, but it is more so due to a lack of focus than ability.

While he can outrun and outjump most defensive backs, Hester does not time his leaps well to get to the pass at its highest point. Because of a lack of strength, he struggles to escape the press, especially when he does not use his hands to keep defenders off his body. In the open field, he is a very elusive runner with the burst to run past any opponent, but he does a marginal job of performing in a crowd.

His best and most redeeming asset is his speed, which makes him the most dangerous return specialist in the game. He shows patience letting his wedge develop on kickoff returns and is quick to locate the crease to burst through. Once he gets into the open, he has the explosion and acceleration to take the ball to the house. On punt returns, he shows good hands to field the ball securely. He is a natural runner with a good feel for contact on returns, doing a nice job of twisting and maintaining balance to elude in the open field.

While few in college could match Hester's speed and equal his return skills, that is his only asset at the moment. He seems to rely too much on his speed to make things happen. He has no knowledge of route-running, nor does he show a desire to learn. Thus, he has bounced from position to position in attempts to find his niche on the field. He is too passive of a tackler and lacks classic wrap-up technique to be an effective man coverage defender, despite his valid feet. For teams looking for a bona fide return man, there might not be a better player on the draft board than Hester. But, if you are looking for more production on offense or defense, this will not be a perfect fit for that team.

Career Notes

Ranks fifth in school history with 638 yards on punt returns, topped only by Santana Moss (1,196, 1997-2000), Eddie Dunn (1,153, 1936-38), Kevin Williams (939, 1990-92) and Roscoe Parrish (900, 2002-04) … His four touchdowns on punt returns rank behind Moss (six) on the school's career list … Ranks fourth in Miami history with 1,019 yards on kickoff returns, surpassed by Randal Hill (1,169, 1987-90), Tom Sullivan (1,121, 1969-71) and J.C. Penny (1,088, 1984-86) … His two kickoff returns for scores tied the Miami career record, set by Tim Morgan (1973-76) and matched by Ottis Anderson (1975-78).

2005 Season

All-Atlantic Coast Conference first-team pick as a specialist … Played in 10 games, seeing action as a receiver, nickel back and on special teams … Was bothered by a preseason turf toe injury and missed the Wake Forest and Georgia Tech games after suffering a strained hamstring covering a kickoff vs. Virginia Tech … Made 11 solo tackles with a 29-yard interception return, a 4-yard sack and a pass breakup … On offense, he caught five passes for 55 yards (11.0 avg) and 15 carries for 94 yards (6.3 avg) … Ranked second in the ACC and 13th in the nation with a 14.2-yard average on 22 punt returns for 312 yards and a touchdown … Added 113 yards on seven kickoff returns (16.1 avg).

2005 Game Analysis

Florida State … Played as the nickel back on defense, saw some action on offense and played on all special teams … Recorded two solo tackles, gained 5 yards on a reverse, returned two kickoffs for 31 yards and had a 3-yard punt return.

Clemson … Did not start on defense, but saw action on 53 plays, making four solo tackles, and also returned one kickoff for 33 yards and one punt for 8 yards … On offense, he rushed one time for 36 yards … Moved into sixth place on school's career list for kickoff

return yards, passing Chuck Foreman (882, 1970-72).

Colorado … Did not start on defense, but played 38 snaps, making one solo tackle … On offense, he rushed one time for 4 yards … As a returner, he ran back two punts for 20 yards.

South Florida … Made his only start of the season at right cornerback in place of injured Marcus Maxey … Played 54 snaps, registering one solo tackle and intercepting a pass for a 29-yard return … Also returned one kickoff for 28 yards, but was replaced as the team's punt returner for the first time, since he was playing so much defense.

Duke … Named ACC Special Teams Player of the Week … Did not play on defense, but had his best game as a returner, taking four punts for 101 yards, including 42 and 43-yarders to move into seventh place on the school's career list for punt return yards, passing four former Hurricanes (Frank Smith, William Steiner, Phillip Buchanon and Wesley Carroll).

Temple … Saw action for 20 snaps on defense, making two solo tackles and a pass breakup, along with a 4-yard sack … Returned four punts for 65 yards, including a 48-yarder for his only touchdown of the season.

North Carolina … Played three snaps on defense, making one solo tackle … On offense, he rushed two times for 12 yards and caught one pass for 3 yards … On special teams, he returned three punts for 19 yards.

Virginia Tech … Returned one punt for 9 yards, but suffered a hamstring strain covering a kickoff and left the game in the second quarter.

Wake Forest and Georgia Tech … Did not play (hamstring).

Virginia … Returned to the lineup and saw considerable playing time on offense as a tailback and flanker … Rushed three times for 13 yards and caught two passes for 12 yards … On special teams, he returned five punts for 59 yards (23 long) and one kickoff for 10 yards.

Louisiana State (Peach Bowl) … Closed out his career with two catches for 40 yards, adding 24 yards on seven carries and 39 yards on three kickoff returns.

2004 Season

Named to the Walter Camp All-America team as the nation's best kick returner, selected as the kickoff returner on The Sporting News All-America team and named first-team All-ACC as a kick returner … Even though opposing teams consistently kicked away from him the second half of the season, he ranked fifth nationally with 17.6-yard average on 19 punt returns (326 yards and three touchdowns) and ninth in the NCAA with 26.6-yard average on 15 kickoff returns (389 yards and a score) … Scored four touchdowns, second-most in the country … His four returns for touchdowns tied Santana Moss' school season record (2000) … Ranked second in the ACC in both punt returns and kickoff returns … Played in 12 games, with one start at fullback, one at tailback, two at nickel back and one at cornerback … Recorded 20 tackles (12 solos) with four interceptions for 28 yards in returns … Had one stop for a 3-yard loss, a quarterback pressure and five pass deflections … Also blocked a kick … Caught one pass for 25 yards and rushed five times for 40 yards (8.0 avg).

2004 Game Analysis

Florida State … Returned a kickoff 21 yards and tackled Willie Reid after a 1-yard gain on a second quarter punt return … Blocked Xavier Beitia's 44-yard field goal with 3:58 remaining to give UM a chance to win in overtime.

Louisiana Tech … Named ACC Special Teams Player of the Week … Returned two punts for touchdowns, of 51 and 92 yards (the latter tying Roscoe Parrish's school record), marking the first time a UM player had two punt returns for a touchdown in a game … His 143 total punt return yards ranked second in a game in school history … Added one tackle on special teams … After struggling to pick up the offense, Hester was moved to a reserve role on defense. "You don't have to be too smart to figure out he's going to be pretty special," coach Larry Coker said. "He's so fast, so explosive. He makes fast people look slow." … Hester's two returns were spectacular. He ran back one punt 51 yards to give Miami a 24-0 lead in the second quarter. He sliced between two defenders, almost fell to the ground, and then cut left and ran away from everyone … Returned another punt 92 yards in the fourth period. He started right, cut left and had just punter Matt Butler between him and the end zone. Talk about a mismatch. Hester scored easily, but was penalized for taunting when he held the ball out at the 20-yard line. "I just want to go out and make plays," he said. "It's doesn't matter if it's on offense, defense or special teams." … His 92-yarder tied Roscoe Parrish (vs. Boston College in 2003) for the longest punt return in school history … Hester's returns marked the third consecutive game UM took a punt for a touchdown against Louisiana Tech. Antrel Rolle returned a punt 66 yards for a score in 2004 vs. Louisiana Tech and Santana Moss posted a 69-yard touchdown return vs. Tech in 2000 … Hester recorded 143 yards in punt returns, which ranks second on UM's all-time single-game list behind Kevin Williams, who recorded 152 yards on four punt returns vs. Penn State in 1991 … Miami had two punt returns for touchdowns for the first time since the 2000 season, when Daryl Jones (87 yards) and Santana Moss (85 yards) both took a punt to the house vs. Boston College on November 25, 2000.

Houston … Followed with a solo tackle, a 13-yard kickoff return and two punt returns for 47 yards.

Georgia Tech … Returned two punts for 12 yards and one kickoff for 27 yards … Also played as the dime back on defense for the first time, making two tackles and getting the first interception of his career, when he picked off a fourth quarter pass thrown by Reggie Ball in the end zone for a touchback.

Louisville … Had a sensational night on national television, returning three punts for 89 yards and a 78-yard touchdown and four kickoffs for 95 yards … His 78-yard punt return in the fourth quarter gave UM a 34-31 lead … On defense, he made one tackle and a QB pressure as the nickel back … Named ACC Special Teams Player of the Week for the second time.

North Carolina State … Broke into the lineup on offense, starting at fullback, but did not touch the ball … On special teams, he scored his fourth touchdown on a kick return, taking the opening kickoff back 100 yards for a score … Moved into a tie for first place on UM's career list with two kickoff return touchdowns (tied with Ottis Anderson and Tim Morgan) … For the game, had two kickoff returns for 129 yards and two punt returns for minus-3 yards … Added one tackle and was selected ACC Special Teams Player of the Week again.

North Carolina … Saw considerable action on offense, rushing three times for 18 yards, with an 11-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to tie the game 28-28 … Also caught a pass for 25 yards … Did not return any kicks, as the Tar Heels kicked away from him all game, but added a season-high three tackles (2 solos).

Clemson … Remained a three-way threat, starting at both tailback and nickel back … On offense, he rushed twice for 12 yards … On defense, made his second interception of the season on a third-down play when he stepped in front of a Charlie Whitehurst pass, and had one pass breakup.

Virginia … Started at right cornerback at Virginia in place of an injured Antrel Rolle and made two tackles, with a stop for a loss, and got his third interception of the season when he picked off a Marques Hagans pass in the end zone for a touchback with 0:51 left to play, sealing a 25-17 win … Saw limited action on offense, but returned one punt for 13 yards and one kickoff for 7 yards.

Wake Forest … Started at nickel back and made two solo tackles and a pass deflection, but did not play on offense … Returned two punts for 7 yards.

Virginia Tech … Played as the nickel back all game, recording two solo tackles … On special teams, he returned two punts for a 1-yard gain and three kickoffs for 78 yards … Fumbled a punt late in the third quarter, but quickly recovered the ball.

Florida (Peach Bowl) … Returned a blocked field goal 78 yards for a touchdown. Just four plays after a blocked punt gave the Gators great field position, Miami defensive end Thomas Carroll blocked Matt Leach's 32-yard field goal attempt. Hester picked up the loose ball and sprinted the other way for a score. The momentum swing set the tone for the Hurricanes, who sacked Chris Leak on the next two plays and intercepted a pass late in the second quarter. Miami put constant pressure on Leak and finished with five sacks … Leak overthrew O.J. Small one play after UM tailback Frank Gore fumbled in Florida territory. Hester intercepted the pass and snaked his way 28 yards across the field to put Miami back in field goal range. Jon Peattie made a 47-yard kick to give the Hurricanes a 10-3 lead … Also had a 9-yard punt return and a 16-yard kickoff return.

2003 Season

Appeared in 10 games … Suffered a high ankle sprain vs. Florida that would sideline him for the East Carolina, Boston College and West Virginia games … Still managed to finish sixth in the nation with 18 kickoff returns for 517 yards (28.7 avg) and a touchdown … His 517 yards rank third on the school's single-season list behind Jason Geathers (521 in 2002) and Tremain Mack (528 in 1996) … Caught four passes for 116 yards (29.0 avg) and rushed four times for 26 yards (6.5 avg) … Recorded two solo tackles.

2003 Game Analysis

Louisiana Tech … Made his collegiate debut with two catches for 68 yards, including a 51-yarder, and had two kickoff returns for 73 yards, including a long of 54 yards, adding 12 yards on a reverse and a solo tackle.

Florida … Returned the opening kickoff 97 yards (fifth-longest in school history) for a touchdown, but suffered a high ankle sprain on a 28-yard kickoff return later in the game.

East Carolina, Boston College and West Virginia … Did not play (ankle).

Florida State … Returned to action with 37 yards on two kickoff returns.

Temple … Fumbled once, made two catches for 48 yards, ran for a 9-yard gain and returned a kickoff 14 yards.

Virginia Tech … Posted 119 yards on five kickoff returns and produced an assisted tackle.

Tennessee … Had a 39-yard kickoff return and a 3-yard rushing attempt.

Florida State (Orange Bowl) … Gained 63 yards on three kickoff returns and 2 yards on a reverse.

2002 Season

Did not play after originally enrolling at Miami.

Injury Report

2003: Suffered a high ankle sprain vs. Florida (9/06) that forced him to sit out vs. East Carolina, Boston College and West Virginia.

2005: Bothered throughout August camp with a turf toe injury … Suffered a strained hamstring covering a kickoff in the second quarter vs. Virginia Tech (11/05), missing the rest of that game and the Wake Forest and Georgia Tech games.

2006: Did not participate in the three-cone drill at the Combine, citing cramps.

Agility Tests

Campus: 4.36 in the 40-yard dash … 285-pound bench press … 38-inch vertical jump.

Combine: 4.43-second 40-yard dash. … 38-inch vertical jump. … 10'04" broad jump. … Bench-pressed 225 pounds 16 times. … Opted not to participate in the shuttle run.

Track

Standout performer on Miami's track team in 2004 … Competed in the 55 meters, 60 meters and long jump during the indoor season and the 100 and 4x100 relay during the outdoor season … Was the Big East Conference Indoor Champion in the long jump with a mark of 7.37 meters … Finished third in the 60 at the Big East Indoor Championships … Competed in the preliminaries of the 100 at the Big East Outdoor Championships recording a season-best a time of 10.42 (wind-aided) … Ran the opening leg of the 4x100 relay that placed third at the Big East Outdoor Championships.

High School

Attended Suncoast (Riviera Beach, Fla.) High, playing football for head coach Jimmy Bell … Widely regarded as one of the nation's finest two-way players … Played extensively at running back, receiver, defensive back and as a return specialist … Earned Parade and USA Today first-team All-America honors. Super Prep rated him the best prospect in Florida and the sixth-best prospect in the nation, regardless of position … Earned National Elite 50 and All-American status from that service … Member of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Super Southern 100 and was rated the nation's best cornerback on Max Emfinger's National Top 125 List … Earned first-team Class 3A All-State honors as a senior and was a member of Sunshine Network's All-Gridiron Team … Rushed for 1,014 yards and 12 touchdowns on 94 carries while compiling 1,028 yards receiving on 38 catches with nine scores, in addition to throwing for five touchdowns and 225 yards as a senior … Made 156 tackles (75 solos), had three quarterback sacks, caused three fumbles and recovered a fumble as a senior on defense … Named the MVP of the Cali-Florida All-Star game in which he returned a kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown and had an interception and three tackles on defense … Was also a track standout, earning All-America honors and ranking second nationally in the long jump during his junior year.

Personal

Liberal Arts major … Nicknamed "Debo" … Cousin of former Miami linebacker Michael Smith (1996-99) … Son of Juanita and Derrick Brown … Born Devin Devorris Hester on 11/04/82 … Resides in Riviera Beach, Florida.

 
 

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