Elijah Hughes, from Elizabeth, N.J., has been receiving a lot of recruiting attention from teams in the Northeast like Syracuse, Rutgers, UConn and Boston College. The 5-foot-8, 179-pound running back is also getting consideration from a couple of schools in the Big 12. Earlier in the summer, Kansas State and Kansas reached out to BadgerSports' Kashann Simmons to express their interest in Hughes.
"Coach K [Simmons] told me both schools gave me a verbal offer," Elijah Hughes said. "They want me to send in game film of my first two games before they extend an official offer. They basically want to see more of me, what I've done in the off-season to get better and make their evaluation."
This summer was a busy one for Hughes. He camped at Syracuse, Rutgers, Towson State, and Temple. He's anxious to see who offers so he can start breaking down schools this fall.
"Towson State is my other offer," Hughes stated. "Boston College, UConn, Pitt, Rutgers, Syracuse, and Akron are the ones showing the most interest. After my senior season is complete I'm going to get with my mom and look at the schools that offered and begin scheduling visits."
This is Hughes' fourth year as a starter for Elizabeth High School Minutemen. Last season he gained more than 1,000 yards rushing and had 24 touchdowns in the 10-game season. Akron and Rutgers like him at wide receiver, and he scored four touchdowns at the position a year ago. He also had two punt returns for touchdowns and ran an interception back for a score on defense.
"I've played a little in the secondary," said Hughes. "If the other team has a really fast receiver they'll play me at corner to try and match their speed. Most of the schools like me at running back.
"The main thing I learned in the off-season was to go full speed all the time. Don't take plays off. In a lot of my games I'm the fastest player on the field, and I feel like I can coast and get by, but not this year. When I don't have the ball I'm going to be out in front making good blocks. I worked on my pass blocking a lot during the summer. With added weight, I think you'll see some positive results."
Although the Minutemen were only a 5-5 team a year ago, they have big expectations this season with most of the team returning.
"One game at a time is how we need to approach the season," Hughes said. "Last year we talked too much about how we couldn't wait to play this team down the road and looked past some teams we shouldn't have.
"We didn't have any blowouts. The games we lost were by a touchdown or field goal. As long as we hold on to the ball and finish plays, we should be pretty good. I'd like to lead the county in scoring and hopefully the state."
Hughes was named All-County (Union), All-Group (IV) and All-State for his defense as a junior. His 4.33 40 speed (on laser at Elizabeth High) and big play ability have peeked many college coaches interest. With a fast start to the season, Hughes could see a rapidly growing offer sheet.
"I'd like to go to a school that runs the ball a lot," Hughes said. "I want the coaches to tell me how they're going to use me in the offense. I want to do a lot of reading up on schools before I visit. I'd like to find a campus I fit really well into. A place that's a lot like Elizabeth."
Hughes has two cousins already in Division 1 football, Ray Graham at Pitt and Khaseem Greene at Rugers, both Elizabeth natives. He also competes in the 100 and 200 meter dash on the school's track team. The Minutemen play the first Saturday in September against Somerset's Franklin High.
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