Hunter Swinney was struck speechless twice on Christmas Day.
The 10-year-old Chatsworth resident and Georgia Bulldogs football superfan wanted just one thing for Christmas: A jersey bearing the name and number of his favorite player — current Georgia wide receiver Ladd McConkey — the same No. 84 the Chatsworth Elementary School student wears in his rec league football games.
Luckily for Hunter, his favorite player happens to live only a few minutes away.
“He told us back in October that if he could only get one thing for Christmas, he wanted a Ladd McConkey jersey,” said Chris Cochran, Hunter’s dad.
When Hunter tore open his presents on Christmas morning, wrapped inside of a different shirt he found the No. 84 Georgia Bulldogs jersey of McConkey, a former North Murray High School star.
“I was shocked but I was so excited about it,” Hunter said.
The excitement took a little longer to show.
Hunter instead can be seen in a video breaking down with emotion, burying his face for half a minute before finally stammering, “It’s a Ladd McConkey jersey,” standing up and putting on his new prized possession.
“I just posted (the video) on Facebook to let everyone see his reaction, and people started to share it,” Cochran said.
By a little after noon on Christmas, Cochran had a private message on Facebook from McConkey’s mother.
“She just said, ‘Ladd’s in town, and he would love to sign Hunter’s jersey,’” Cochran said.
McConkey was visiting his family in Murray County on Christmas Day. McConkey’s mother had shown him the video, Cochran said, and the Georgia receiver wanted to meet Hunter.
An attempt to reach McConkey, as the Bulldogs continue preparation for the Peach Bowl and College Football Playoff semifinal on Saturday, was unsuccessful.
A few minutes later, Cochran and his family were headed out to the McConkey house, but Hunter didn’t know that yet.
“We told him that we were going to look at snow,” Cochran said.
Cochran pulled into the driveway and pretended to look at his smartphone for directions.
Then, Hunter saw someone round the corner.
“Well first I thought we were about to get shot,” Hunter laughed.
“That’s McConkey!” said the voice of Cochran’s younger son in another video of Hunter’s second McConkey-themed surprise of the day. Hunter was again struck silent with his emotion, burying his face as his favorite player approached him, told him he liked the jersey and gave him a hug.
“He was very nice, one of the nicest people I know,” Hunter said.
McConkey left Hunter with a signed jersey, some photos and an experience he won’t soon forget. The video of this surprise was again shared on social media. It garnered nearly 40,000 likes on TikTok as of Thursday and was shared by ESPN football analyst and former Georgia player David Pollack on Twitter.
“We are so grateful that they took time out of their day, on Christmas Day, on only one of the times he has to be home,” Cochran said.
As for the jersey, it’s being fiercely protected by Hunter. He’s not worried about any jealous classmates.
“They won’t come for it, I’ll send my dogs after them,” he said.
“He’s got it put up in his closet in his very top shelf, and nobody is even allowed to look at it,” Cochran said.