Wide receiver Dunbar ready to show how high he can fly
Senior wide receiver Steven Dunbar has been getting better statistically every year since he first came on the scene in 2014.
Now a senior, he is set up for a breakout season after posting his best numbers in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns under Greg Ward Jr.’s dynamic offense last year. With his eyes on a thousand-yard season, Dunbar has shown signs of growing up both on and off the field as a leader and in his academics.
Earning his role
Dunbar finally used his 6-foot-3 and 202-pound frame to good use last year after catching just 286 yards in 2014 and 382 yards in 2015.
Despite being the third option in the offense last year Dunbar came up big with 53 receptions for 692 yards and five touchdowns.
Newly promoted wide receiver coach Kenny Guiton has noticed Dunbar’s growth and expects big things out of the wide receiver.
“In (my) past two years as a graduate assistant, Steven has kind of always been the guy to lead by example,” Guiton said. “Now it’s starting to coming out vocally. He knows he has earned it and is the guy who has to lead in the locker room.”
In July, Dunbar made it to the preseason watch list for the Wuerffel Trophy, which is awarded to the player who best combines community service with athletic and academic achievement.
“He is an all-around guy both on and off the field,” Guiton said.
Dunbar also mentors freshman wide receiver Jeremy Singleton as part of a big brother program implemented by Houston coaches, Guiton said. The big brother program is designed to help younger players succeed both on and off the field.
“We are getting better and coming together as a team,” Dunbar said. “We have been building that cohesiveness, working hard and just grinding every day.”
Houston will return with four out of five of their top pass catchers next year. This group includes leading receiver Linell Bonner, who pulled in 98 receptions for 1,118 yards and three touchdowns.
Although the team looks to retain some of their starters from last year, there are many leadership roles left vacant. Dunbar considers himself a quiet guy who isn’t used to being the vocal leader in the locker room, but he knows this is the year he has to step up.
“I feel like I am stepping into a leadership role well even though it is out of my personality to be so vocal,” said Dunbar. “I’m learning to be more confident in myself, to push my teammates to do some of the things I do and get the best out of my group.”
Dunbar is the second leading receiver returning from last year. He will look to help replace the loss of Chance Allen, who had 56 receptions for 815 yards and six touchdowns.
Something to prove
Dunbar believes above everything else his first role on the team is to be a leader to not just the wide receiver corps but the entire offense.
With the loss of Greg Ward Jr., the offense has a huge hole to fill in its passing and running game. Two weeks into camp the question of who will be behind center is still a mystery, but Dunbar said he is not phased because he believes he needs to create his own success.
“I have a lot to prove this semester,” Dunbar said. “I don’t feel like I have showcased by full potential, and this year I really want to show the country who I am and that I can compete with the best of the them, and I can be the best.”
Dunbar showed up big against Oklahoma last year in the opening game of the season, posting seven receptions for 125 yards which led all receivers. This helped propel the offense to a 33-23 victory over the heavily-favored Sooners and set the tone for the rest of the season.
Despite flying high as one of the premier weapons in an upcoming team, Dunbar still remembers where he came from and uses that motivation to push him to be better.
Focusing on what’s important
The Metairie, Lousiana native grew up wanting to play sports since he was young. He admired many of the athletes he would see at his local high school and was determined to make his dreams come true.
“I remember what it was like as a kid looking around me and seeing athletes and wondering how they did it,” Dunbar said. “Now I can show young kids in the community it is possible, I am human and they can achieve anything they want to if they just work hard.”
There have been many moments in Dunbar’s career that have humbled him. His service in the community has been one of the biggest proponents of keeping him grounded and he still sometimes sees himself through the eyes of the kids he mentors, Dunbar said.
Dunbar is ready to face the challenges of the year ahead. Despite having so much to balance, he credits his mother with teaching him how to remain focused.
“My mom instilled a lot of these principles in me when I was younger,” Dunbar said. “She always told me to take care of business and stay ahead. Focus on one thing at a time. When I am on the football field — worry about football, when I am in the classroom — worry about class. I just need to stay focused and not let anything get in the way.”