For Phillip Hunt, fourth time’s the charm. Hunt has pursued a bowl win since he began his collegiate career.
In 2005, as a redshirt freshman, Hunt recorded 23 tackles to help the Cougars reach their second bowl game in three years, but UH fell to Kansas 42-13 in the Fort Worth Bowl.
In 2007, Hunt paced the team with 18 tackles for loss and 10 sacks as the Cougars came up one win short of making a return trip to the C-USA Championship game and lost to Texas Christian University 20-13 in the Texas Bowl.
As a senior, the defensive end capped off his collegiate career with two sacks against Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl on Dec. 31, giving UH its first bowl win in 28 years.
‘This feels good because this is something like the conference championship we won back in ’06,’ Hunt said. ‘Since we didn’t win the (Bayou) Bucket or we didn’t win the conference championship this year, this takes the place of it.’
Hunt ranked second in the nation with 14 sacks in 13 games – a UH single-season record -for a loss of 107 yards. His 34 career sacks as a Cougar moves him into the top spot in UH record books past Mack Mitchell, who played for the Cougars from 1972-74 and earned 33 career sacks.
‘It feels great. It’s an honor. I set the record in front of my family and it just feels great,’ Hunt said.
Hunt was named Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year after leading the league with 12 sacks and 16.5 tackles for loss in the regular season. He also had 16 solo and 5 assisted tackles for loss for 124 yards, ranking 17th in the nation.
He was named C-USA Player of the Week for the third time in his career after getting three sacks in UH’s 44-38 win over SMU on Oct. 18 in Dallas.
Hunt also earned the weekly honor in 2007 after forcing a fumble and breaking up two passes against the Mustangs as a junior. In 2006, Hunt tortured SMU for nine total tackles (seven solo) and three sacks for 12 yards as Houston beat SMU to clinch the C-USA West division title.
The Armed Forces bowl marked Hunt’s 52nd consecutive start as he, along with senior safety Kenneth Fontenette, set the school record for most career games played.
As a junior, Hunt led the Cougars in tackles for loss (18 for 106 yards) and sacks (10.5 for a loss of 76 yards). Hunt was named to the All C-USA First Team by Phil Steele publications, and was named All-Conference USA by both the coaches and media.
As a sophomore, Hunt paced the Cougars with 8 sacks for 37 yards and 12 tackles for loss for 43 yards to help the Cougars earn the C-USA Championship. Despite Hunt’s seven tackles (four solo) and a 6-yard sack against South Carolina, the Cougars extended their bowl game losing streak to eight.
After helping UH reach an undefeated record at Robertson Stadium, Hunt entered his final game with the Cougars determined to get a win. Although Hunt set personal records in the game against the Falcons, he is equally proud to leave the team with a solid foundation on which it can build a winning tradition.
‘We got our first (bowl) win in 28 years and we set the record straight and we set a winning legacy my senior year, and it feels great,’ he said.