In 1987, Tyrone Hughes was the Louisiana offensive player-of-the-year at St. Augustine High School in New Orleans. Playing in a run-oriented offense, Hughes, who lined up as a wingback, rushed 62 times for 845 yards, caught 20 passes for 601 yards and scored 22 TD's from his wingback position. He also averaged 40.4 yards on nine kickoffs, returning three for touchdowns.
"I was a receiver but during my senior year we installed the ‘Delaware Wing-T' formation on offense," Hughes said. "Burton Burns who used to play at Nebraska came in and implemented it. I was the key guy in this offense which helped turn my senior season into a breakout year for me."
In the mid-80's Nebraska had success recruiting the state of Louisiana. They were able to get the state offensive and defensive players of the year in 1986 with Mickey Joseph and Reggie Cooper and before them Neil Smith and LeRoy Etienne.
"Jack Pierce (former NU assistant coach) was the main reason why Nebraska got me to come there. He was one heck of a recruiter," Hughes said. "I was sold on Nebraska the day I met him. Jack was excited about what he was doing. He sold the school by being honest with you. He looked you in the eye and you just knew what kind of man he was."
"My mom liked Nebraska because of Jack Pierce but my dad wanted me to go to LSU. He was a car salesman at the time and he would get a lot of pressure from his co-workers to get me to go to LSU. They would put up signs at his dealership that read ‘Hodson to Hughes'. (Tommy Hodson was LSU's starting quarterback)
Hughes said the reasons for him picking NU over the Tigers were Pierce and what some of the players at LSU told him. "Some of the star players at LSU helped deter me from going there. They told me not to go there because of how some of the players were treated after they left."
So Hughes became a Husker and Nebraska got a big-time threat not only on offense but on special teams as well. After redshirting his first year in 1988, Hughes established himself as a kick returner more than a receiver.
He won the Big Eight punt-return title and was seventh in the nation as a redshirt freshman, and then as a sophomore he led the Big Eight and ranked third in the nation in kickoff returns with a 29.1 average. Hughes set the Nebraska single-season record with 523 kickoff-return yards, which included a big game against Kansas State when he returned three kicks for 151 yards, including a 99-yard touchdown. The 151 yards and average of 51.0, set NU single-game records. Hughes also tied an NCAA record with 247 yards on eight kick returns (punt and kickoff).
Hughes has no regrets coming to Nebraska. As a receiver he would have liked more passing implemented into the offense but it was a great experience overall.
"Being a black kid from New Orleans coming to Midwest America was a culture shock," Hughes said. "There were times I was the only black kid in an auditorium classroom but I didn't feel that way though. So I really encourage kids to get away to go to college and experience different cultures."
If it wasn't for Pierce, Hughes wouldn't have experienced the culture at Nebraska and would have made his dad's co-workers happy on National Signing Day.
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