Published: Friday, September 21, 2012
Updated: Friday, September 21, 2012 03:09
Spencer Duncan / The Mirror
UNC senior wide receiver Dominic Gunn carries into Maverick’s territory during the Bears’ 40-3 victory against Colorado Mesa Sept. 8 at Nottingham Field.
UNC senior wide receiver Dominic Gunn has been standing on his own as the team’s punt and kick return specialist during his time in Greeley.
But now he is expected to be an example for a group of receivers that is deep but lacks a veteran leader.
Last year, the University of Northern Colorado had a reliable wide out in Patrick Walker, but he graduated in May. Gunn is the most experienced player in the receiving corps this season, and he has stepped up to take that leadership role the group needs.
“Dom really stepped up and took that role upon himself,” sophomore receiver Marcell Peoples said. “I think he worked like that leader he should be all summer and all camp. It was just one of those things he kept working toward. We really follow him, and he really teaches us a lot at the receiver spot. I’m only a young guy, so I can get a lot of information from him because he’s been around here a lot.”
Wide receivers coach Keith Grable also said he has seen a positive change in Gunn this season.
“He’s paid closer attention to details,” Grable said. “He understands the offense a little better now, but I think just the overall details of the game has helped get him to where he is today. Having Patrick Walker gone, we need another guy to step up and carry the load, so the next guy’s got to be ready, and I think he understands that and has done that for us.”
Gunn said he has undertaken the role of an adviser for the younger receivers in hopes of helping them improve and contribute to the Bears’ success this season.
“It’s kind of weird being the old guy now on the team, but when the younger guys ask, I’ll help them out, or if they mess up on the field, I’ll give them a couple tips to help them out,” Gunn said. “I think my role has stepped up a little bit as a leader and as a senior.”
Throughout his time at UNC, Gunn has been a dynamic returner, jumping up the charts of school records for both career and single-season kick return yardage and punt return yardage. During Saturday’s loss at Sacramento State, he once again demonstrated his prowess in the return game, with 77 kick return yards and a 74-yard punt return for a touchdown. His 196 all-purpose yards against the Hornets put him at 3,094 career all-purpose yards.
Gunn said he is relaxed in his role as the return specialist, and he believes that helps him be successful.
“I think it’s just confidence,” he said. “I’ve been doing it over the years. Returning is something I take to heart, and I want to be good at that, so I really concentrate on that. Being my senior season and doing it so long, I’m really just relaxed out there.”
Perhaps with his newfound attention to detail, he can become more comfortable lining up at the line of scrimmage and be a top receiver for the Bears in his final season.