Virginia Tech safety Devon Hunter, a graduate of Indian River High in Chesapeake, was arrested Sunday afternoon by the Christiansburg Police and charged with strangling another to cause wound or injury and simple assault against a family member, according to the Montgomery County Jail.
The strangulation charge is a felony, while the assault charge is a misdemeanor. Hunter, who was indefinitely suspended Monday from Tech’s football team, is being held in Montgomery County Jail without bond until a scheduled court appearance. He was arrested at 3:10 p.m. Sunday, according to the jail.
Under Tech’s conduct policies, athletes are immediately suspended from participation in all team events until felony charges are resolved. Athletes who are convicted of or plead guilty to or no contest to a felony charge will be dismissed from Tech’s athletic programs.
In Virginia, strangulation is a class 6 felony with maximum penalties upon conviction of one to five years in state prison and a fine up to $2,500. It could carry a penalty of up to a year in jail, and a fine up to $2,500.
Simple assault is a class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia, carrying a maximum penalty upon conviction of up to a year in jail.
Hunter’s arrest was first reported by the Roanoke Times.
Hunter, a 6-foot, 220-pound redshirt junior who was a projected starter at strong safety this season, didn’t “uphold the high standards we have for our student athletes,” according to a Monday release from Virginia Tech’s athletic department.
Tech coach Justin Fuente won’t comment on student conduct issues until the matter is resolved, according to the release. He also didn’t comment on Hunter’s arrest.
Last month, Fuente heaped praise on Hunter, who played in 10 games in 2017 as a highly touted true freshman, moved to the outside linebacker/nickel back position in the ’18 season and played in just four games before redshirting and returned last season to safety, where he backed up starter Reggie Floyd.
“There are guys that you just see them every day working and trying to lead and do the right thing and you just want them to have success so bad, and that’s how I feel about Devon right now,” Fuente said in August. “He just has been a great leader. He has great work ethic, a great attitude and has really come along to be a guy that people look up to in the locker room. Our kids have a tremendous amount of respect for him. Our coaches have a tremendous amount of respect for him. We can’t wait to get him out there and let him have some success, because he’s just been so great behind the scenes for so many years.”
Given how he lauded Hunter’s leadership in the preseason, Fuente confirmed Monday he was surprised and shocked regarding what led to Hunter’s current status with the team.
Hunter arrived at Tech considered by many recruiting analysts one of the nation’s top three safeties in the class of ’17. He was No. 2, behind only former Catholic High running back Khalan Laborn, in the Daily Press’ Fab 15 ranking of the state’s top recruits for the ’17 class.
Before committing to Tech, Hunter had more than 30 scholarship offers. He also considered offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida, North Carolina and Mississippi before choosing Tech.
With Hunter suspended, Tech might turn to redshirt senior Tyree Rodgers, redshirt freshman J.R. Walker or true freshman Keonta Jenkins to fill in as a starting safety alongside starting co-captain Divine Deablo. Rodgers started in 2018 against Notre Dame, Boston College and at Pittsburgh.
In addition to Hunter, Tech was already going to be without Caleb Farley in its secondary. He opted out of playing this season in August and planned to prepare for next year’s NFL draft, citing concerns related to the coronavirus for his decision.
Tech, which had to postpone its game against Virginia that was scheduled for this Saturday because of coronavirus issues on the Hokies’ football team, is slated to open its season Sept. 26 against North Carolina State.