Sam Webb: Gabe's options seem to be growing by the day. What is he ultimately looking for in a school?
James Hughes: "We're looking first and foremost for good opportunity in academics because if your degree means nothing then after your football career is over then you are virtually insignificant. We want him to go to school that offer him and by what I mean by that is that some schools degree means more than others because of the name of the school that the degree comes from. That is very important to us because when you go out into corporate America, there is nothing that says that Gabe (King) will ever play professional football, we just believe in god that we will. I believe that that's god will for his life… but in case something happens and he doesn't then he should be able to walk into corporate America and say ‘I have a degree from this institution' and that degree will afford will him to be able to live a comfortable life."
Sam Webb: It's very clear from talking to Gabe that that is definitely his mindset. He said that a couple of institutions on his list really stick out. He mentioned that North Carolina and Cal were 1 and 1a and obviously those are excellent academic institutions. Have you had an opportunity to speak very much with the coaches from those schools yet?
James Hughes: "Yeah. I haven't spoken directly with the coach from Cal, but my wife has. My wife went on a visit with him to North Carolina. Then we have actually spoken to the coach at Cal over the telephone. It seems like he is a very, very nice gentleman also, but I can also tell you this. I was actually looking at the Michigan offer the other day and since he got an offer from Michigan that was one of the schools that he wanted an offer from… so obviously he's interested in Michigan also. It had appealed to him because we watch a lot of college football and the Big House and Michigan and everything else. It really appealed to him. Especially with the program being the type of program that it had been for such a long time, which is an outstanding program. Michigan is by far not off of his list."
Sam Webb: I certainly didn't mean to indicate otherwise. As a matter of fact I was wondering if you guys were drawing any parallels between Michigan and his leaders. Since those schools have a lot in common academically, is that part of why you like Michigan? Have you guys had a chance to research that side of the Michigan yet?
James Hughes: "We haven't had an opportunity yet because we were waiting on getting the scholarship offer from Michigan and now that we have it, we will get an opportunity to visit their website or take a look at their school in more depth. We went to the website and took a look at the campus and the different things that Michigan can offer but to sit down and go into depth into it, we haven't had an opportunity yet, which is what we are going to do. What we are really looking to do is we are hoping to narrow it down to maybe five schools that Gabe is really interested in and target those schools over the summer and next year as schools that we really want to visit, spend some time at, and get an opportunity to experience the interest that they have of him."
Sam Webb: How are you going to match up the academic merits of those schools? Is it going to be a matter of taking out US News and World Report and see how they rank in the various fields; what goes into that process?
James Hughes: "We'll do that too. We'll sit down and look at it on the internet, see how a school rates out as a university, take a look at what some of the alumni is doing… how they prospered after leaving the school. At the same time, I know that times have changed over the years in all schools. So some schools are catching up with other schools and some schools are actually surpassing other schools too. The main thing that I want to do is to take a look at a school. You may have a school that has a better academic program, but may not be a better fit for my son. It's just not going to be about because your website or the national magazine says that you are this caliber of a school… that's wonderful; you may be that caliber of a school but just not for my son because there might be this other school that offers the same thing that your school does and it gives him the same opportunity or maybe better."
Sam Webb: As far as Michigan is concerned, you said that you just got an offer. Is it right to conclude though that you haven't had an opportunity to speak to those coaches yet?
James Hughes: "No we haven't. We haven't had an opportunity to speak with them and if you want to write about it in the article, you're more than welcome (laughing). We'd love to hear from them from a coach's standpoint about how they feel about it."
Sam Webb: You said that you'd like to take Gabe out on some visits and allow him to see these schools. That leads right into a question about timeline. At one point Gabe was looking to maybe making a decision before the season starts. Now it sounds as if you are probably going to take some official visits during the season?
James Hughes: "Yes we are. We are waiting to see what type of offers are going to come in. We are going to have to look at each school more in depth to make sure that the schools are running the type of football defense that he's looking to play, which is probably going to be more of like a 3-4 where he'll get a chance to play the (strongside) linebacker in the two point position. He can play a 4-3 too where he could be used as a defensive end on tackle in three point position. It is just going to depend on what team is best going to offer him as an athlete, but it is just not about athletics for us, because we want to make sure that whatever school you go to, not only can you perform on the field, but you can perform in academics also."
Sam Webb: That's your baby. I know he's going off to become a man, but still there is that part of you that kind of wants him to be close. Is distance from home going to be factor for you?
James Hughes: "That is a factor for us because we do want to be able to see him play. We understand that if he plays Chapel Hill that we will get him an opportunity to see him more often. At the same time, we understand that Gabe is going to be a young man, so a lot of the decision we are going to leave up to him. We are going to give him our opinion on what we think but part of him growing up is making decisions. When he makes that decision it is going to have to be a decision that he is going to have to make and live with for the next four years. We are definitely going to give him our opinion of what we think and what we feel. Then the decision as to what school he chooses to go too will be basically up to him. We'll let him know, I like this coach, I think this school did real well, I like the academic program, I like what they're offering you, and you tell me what you think. Then once we get an opportunity to narrow this down, that's when we are going to pay particular attention to the schools that are going to better suit him. It's my son, I love him, and we want the best for him. The main thing is that I want him to be around people that know the Lord, that serve the Lord, and can keep him on the same path that we travel on, because that's what we do. We serve God. We just believe through it all god is will Take care of him. I don't want to just say, okay here's my son, you got him for four years. I want to know that his environment is going to be conducive for what we offer here and that we can be a light to some other young kids that are coming in as well as following in the footsteps of some of them that are ahead of him also."GoBlueWolverine will have more on King in the cming weeks.