HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - It seems a long time ago, but Gator Hoskins was a high school quarterback ticketed in coach Doc Holliday's first recruiting class as a safety.
Or a wide receiver, as Hoskins was listed in the 2010 signing-day release. He was listed at 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, the latter a generous figure.
Pretty quickly in 2010, he moved to the smallish group of tight ends. Future NFL player Lee Smith was as burly as they come and 6-5, 238 Jamie Hatten was on the roster, but then the group added Hoskins and redshirt freshman C.J. Crawford (then 6-2, 203).
"Anytime you recruit quarterbacks who are athletes, normally there's a place they can play. He was one of those guys," Holliday said of Hoskins.
Holliday and offensive coordinator Bill Legg had specific ideas on how Hoskins would be used, and the 244-pound senior from Gainesville, Fla., has rewarded their confidence. On Tuesday, Hoskins was rewarded in a big way, named a semifinalist for the John Mackey Award.
"Number one, he's become a great leader for us," Holliday said. "You listen to what he has to say in the locker room after the games, the way he's helped Devon Johnson prepare and that type of thing, he's a good player."
The award is named for the one of the NFL's great tight ends, a Pro Football Hall of Famer and first president of the NFL Players Association. Mackey played from 1963-72 and was a member of the Baltimore Colts' Super Bowl V championship team.
Of the eight semifinalists, Hoskins was the only one outside the "Power Five" conferences.
"I was honored to see my name on the list, blessed," Hoskins said Tuesday. "I was thinking, they find you anywhere. When you've got talent, no matter where you're at, they'll find you."
In essentially three seasons - he played just enough in 2010 to lose his redshirt - he has 77 receptions for 952 yards and 22 touchdowns for his career; 28 for 455 with nine TDs this season.
The TD ratios are most impressive. Those are just short of 30 percent for his career, but rise to nearly one in three this fall.
Whether he lines up tight or is split out to the slot, he has made his red-zone operation look easy. He has scored TDs in seven different games. Several were important, including: