Undersized RB Hunter ready to disprove doubters … again

Kendall Hunter weighs 200 pounds.

But let’s call it 201 with that chip on his shoulder.

Hunter, Oklahoma State’s prolific running back projected as a potential second-round pick, fell to the 49ers in the fourth round of the NFL draft.

Hunter, the 115th overall pick and the 10th running back selected, said he’s used to being underestimated. After all, he’s 5-foot-7.

“Ever since I started playing the game people doubted me, saying I couldn’t do this or do that (because of my) size and stuff like that,” Hunter said. “So I play every game with a chip on my shoulder. I use it as motivation.”

Hunter could have tumbled down the draft board due to concerns about his speed and injury history.

He will likely be used as change-of-pace back in San Francisco, which has a pair of power runners in the 217-pound Frank Gore and 233-pound Anthony Dixon in the backfield. But Hunter clocked a middling time of 4.53 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine.

In addition, he suffered a severely broken right ankle as a junior at John Tyler (Texas) High, an injury that required a plate and screws to surgically repair. Hunter can still feel the plate below his shin. He also was limited to eight games – and 88 carries – as a junior at Oklahoma State due to a stress fracture in the same ankle.

Still, Hunter, a two-time All-American and the fifth-leading rusher in Big 12 Conference history, produced when healthy. As a sophomore, he rushed for 1,555 yards, averaged 6.5 yards a carry and scored 16 touchdowns, numbers he basically duplicated in 2010 (1,548 yards, 5.7 yards a carry and 16 TDs).

He wasn’t used extensively as a pass-catcher out the backfield – he had 20 catches (101 yards) as a senior and 63 receptions in his 46-game, 27-start career.

Hunter’s draft slide may have him fired up, but he sounded reserved and low-key on his conference call this morning, minutes after he was selected.

That’s fitting for a running back who prepares for each game by … napping.

“I’ve been doing it since I was a kid,” he said. “A little 10-minute nap before every game. It’s just relaxed me. When I wake up after a 10-minute period I’ll be ready to play.”

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