STILLWATER — Kendall Hunter has been a pleasant surprise during his student-athlete days at Oklahoma State. It has nothing to do with the touchdowns the All-America running back scores or his ankle-breaking moves in the open field.
Hunter is a standout off the field as well. He won the Nate Fleming Award on Monday night during Oklahoma State’s annual academic awards banquet. The Nate Fleming Award is given to one male and one female athlete who have overcome personal obstacles to achieve academic success. "People had told us they weren’t sure how he would do in school,” said Marilyn Middlebrook, OSU’s associate athletic director for academic affairs. "His work ethic is so good. He just doesn’t accept failure.” Hunter, an education major, is working toward graduating in December, just 31/2 years after he graduated from Tyler (Texas) John Tyler High School. "He is one of the few (freshman) players during my time who has talked about graduating,” said Terry Henley, OSU’s senior academic counselor for football. "A lot of players give it lip service, but it’s important to him.” The unyielding effort Hunter offers each Saturday in front of thousands of fans is the same effort academic advisers get when nobody is watching. It’s not unusual for Hunter to spend four or more hours in OSU’s academic center. "What he does on the field is how he is in every part of his life,” said Kala Krzych, OSU’s director of the writing center who has worked closely with Hunter during his three years in Stillwater.