Hunter Townson didn't see much point in hanging around Ider (Ala.) High School any longer than he had to. Not with a future he was very excited about available to him right away.
The first commitment of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team's class of 2013, the 6-foot-4, 276-pound lineman will graduate from Ider in December and enroll at UTC in January. He's the third Mocs recruit in as many years to enroll early.
"I just went ahead and got all of my stuff ready in the summer and went ahead with it," said Townson, who made the 2011 Alabama Class 2A all-state team as a defensive end. "It's a great opportunity. I get to be there in the spring and fight for a job, and I get to also come in and get accustomed to college life."
Townson's only road block in graduating early was a big one. It had never been done before at his high school and had to be approved by the DeKalb County Board of Education. The board gave its approval in October and Townson's initial request led to four other Ider students choosing to graduate early.
"We'd known about it from other schools, but nobody had ever asked to or ever wanted to graduate in December and enroll in college early," Townson said.
He attended practice one day last week with fellow offensive line commitment Jacob Revis, a Rhea County High School all-state player and brother of junior right guard Kevin Revis. Townson played guard and tackle for Ider and said UTC wants to use him at tackle.
Ider coach Brent Tinker said the best thing Townson has going for him is his quick feet, which explains why he was so effective as a defensive end. The next step in Townson's development, Tinker said, will be borne out of work in the weight room.
"He's got good feet and I think one of his strengths is his drive, but at the same time he's going to have to get stronger," Tinker said. "He's going to have to grow and make sure that that motor's running every play."
By enrolling early, Townson will get to go through winter workouts with his new teammates and then spring practice.
"I also think a big thing is the schedule in the spring is not as strenuous as it would be on a new student in the fall," Townson said. "You know how it is with college athletes -- they're so busy during the season. This way it's not as strenuous, and I think that will help me when it comes to college and schoolwork, and I'll be ready in the fall."
The Mocs have had mixed results with early enrollees. Offensive lineman Shaun Hill enrolled in January 2011 and has been a solid backup so far in his career. Last January, linebacker D'Eddric Williams enrolled early but quit the team during spring practice.