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Meet the NFL prospect that learned football from Madden video game

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Margus Hunt (Credit: AP Photo/Eugene Tanner)

Margus Hunt is a familiar name for fans of Southern Methodist University football. As a Mustang, he broke the SMU record for blocked kicks, deflecting eight in his first 14 games. He was also the MVP of the 2012 Hawaii Bowl.

At 6'8" and 277 pounds, he'll likely be just as familiar to NFL fans in the coming years. But at this year's NFL Combine, Hunt revealed a secret to his success that no one saw coming: If it hadn't been for EA's Madden series, he might never have played football at all.

When Hunt first came to the U.S. from his native Estonia, it was for his Track and Field prowess, but when SMU did away with track scholarships, he says, he turned to football. Having never played -- and having only been to a couple games in person -- he used Madden games to help him learn how to play the game.

"After the tryout, I flew home for Christmas, got Madden NFL and I started playing," he says.

As he started playing on the field, he kept playing Madden in his dorm to lock down the basics of the game -- including how many people were supposed to be on the field at one time.

While he certainly knows the game better today, the fact that he didn't step onto a football field until 2009 is listed among his weaknesses on the official NFL Draft page, which notes he is "still learning the game [and] must find the ball consistently."

Plenty of NFL players believe that playing Madden helps with their on-field game, including luminaries like Drew Brees and Arian Foster.

At 25, Hunt is a tad bit older than other NFL potential draftees, but because he hasn't been taking hits for as long, he's still a likely pick. And with his ability to break through lines to get to a quarterback, he could become a defensive monster on the field.

Who knows? In a few seasons, it's not entirely out of the realm of possibility that he'll end up as the cover athlete on the game that taught him how to play.

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