Robert Hughes: One of the Nation's Best RBs

Mississippi State's head football coach Sylvester Croom is looking for a couple of big-time running backs who can come in and play immediately in 2007. Due to that, he and his coaching staff are looking nation-wide for players who fits that criteria. And it appears they have one on their recruiting radar screen from Hubbard High School in Chicago, Illinois - running back Robert Hughes.

Robert Hughes Profile Page:

Robert, who rushed for 1,920 yards and 20 touchdowns as a junior and was named All-State by the Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune and the Champaigne News-Gazette, has been told by college coaches why they are so interested in him.

"They basically said they like my knowledge of the game. And they like my work ethic as far as the weight room and on the field," he explained. "They also like that I'm fine tuning my (skills) at running back, not just running the ball, but learning how to block for pass-protection, running routes, catching the ball, learning where to run. Today's back has to do many different things."

In previous interviews with his interest in Mississippi State hasn't appeared to be that high. So, I asked him up front what are his feelings about MSU?

"I'm most definitely interested in them," noted Robert. "I've talked to Coach Croom on two separate occasions."

And he came away very impressed.

"Oh man, he's an excellent guy. I understand where he comes from and he's easy to relate to," said Robert. "My perception of him is I can be an excellent back under his instruction. He has knowledge of the game at different positions, but mainly at running back. He explained how he uses his backs and that he doesn't change their running style. He just fine tunes some of the weak points and takes it from there. His history and his knowledge just sparks a fire in me. Man, it's like I can do great things under his system."

And even before Mississippi State sent him his offer, he was checking up on Coach Croom.

"I knew about (MSU head) Coach (Sylvester) Croom before they offered," said the 5-11, 227-pounder. "I know he coached with Paul "Bear" Bryant (at Alabama). I also know he is the first black head (football) coach in the SEC."

Robert's also familiar with the state of Mississippi almost as well as he is with Chicago.

"I have my auntie Mary, my aunt Tina and a bunch of cousins down there (in Grenada, Mississippi)," said Robert. "The last time I came down was two to three years ago. We came down and visited my aunties and other kinfolk around that area. I also have quite a few relatives in the Chicago area. Mainly we are in the Chicago and Grenada, Mississippi."

Robert, who has unofficially visited numerous schools during the fall and spring, including most of the 15 schools that have offered him, will be visiting Mississippi next month, although this time it will be to check out Mississippi State. Four of his teammates will be coming with him.

"Me and Sean Cattouse and three of the other prospects that have (MSU) offers want to get down (to MSU) sometime in June after school lets out," said Robert, who also plans on attending Ohio State's summer camp. "I want to get down there and meet the coaches and meet my peers and just get a knowledge of the university as a whole, get to know what the academic side has to offer. It is basically a recruiting trip to see everything."

Although he's traveling the college circuit, he said he's not ready to narrow his list of favorites down to a few.

"I'm interested in all schools right now," said the 16-year old. "I don't know too much about any university. Of the little I know, I feel very comfortable with them. I'm just going to wait it out and make sure I make the right decision for me and the rest of my family."

He does, however, know what he is looking for in a college.

"Playing time is a key. I want to know what the depth chart looks like when I come in because I don't want to redshirt," said Robert. "I want to get there and turn the motor on and keep going through the four years. The coaching staff, facilities, graduation rates and the overall support of the university (are other factors). Really, the whole thing."

He didn't mention distance of the school. Will that factor into his decision?

"Distance won't factor into my decision because I know my family will support me wherever I go," said Robert.

We'll check back with Robert in a few weeks to find out what he thought about his Mississippi State visit.

Check out Robert in these ScoutTV video highlights to see for yourself why he is so highly recruited. As you will see, the thing that stands out about him is his powerful running style. And he's got some quickness, too, as evidenced by the 4.1 second shuttle he ran at the U.S. Army combine last January.

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the sports network. You can contact him by emailing

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