Corner Mike Hughes may now be one of the top players at his position in the 2018 rookie class, but his road to pro football has been anything but easy.
An all-state high school player in New Bern, North Carolina, Hughes made the decision to stay close to home for college ball and suited up for North Carolina during his freshman year. But his promising career in Chapel Hill was cut short when he got suspended for an incident at a frat house and ended up leaving the team. In 2016, he wound up playing for Garden City Community College at the junior college level. His outstanding play quickly caught the attention of University of Central Florida coach Scott Frost who recruited him to play for his squad in 2017.
And the rest is history – the corner helped lead UCF to an undefeated record, and, to some, stake a claim as the real national champs. On an individual level, Hughes received first-team conference honors as a defensive back and second-team honors as a returner. All the change he experienced in college didn’t slow him down – it helped him grow as a player and as a person.
“When I left UNC, I kind of had to take a step back,” Hughes said. “That taught me to never take anything for granted. It made me work even harder, and I appreciated everyone who was there with me during the struggle. Going to UCF was probably the best decision I’ve ever made, and it’s just a blessing to be in this position.”
Whoever drafts Hughes is getting more than just a corner, they’re getting a true special teams ace, as well.
“I’d say my favorite memory in college was my kick return for a touchdown against USF for the win,” he said. “That was probably one of the biggest football moments of my life.”