"He's just a dynamic athlete," said Bobby Curlings, New Bern head coach. "He can play anywhere on the field. I feel comfortable with him at quarterback, running back, receiver, or any position in the defensive backfield. He can return punts, return kicks, and he can punt. He's just one of those players that you want on the field at all times."
Hughes worked himself into New Bern's starting secondary at cornerback as a freshman.
During the 2012 season, which ended with a NCHSAA 4A title for New Bern, Hughes started the entire season at wide receiver and cornerback, while backing up quarterback Josh Taylor. Hughes ended the campaign with five interceptions, 43 tackles, and nine total touchdowns.
With last season's starter graduated, Hughes will quarterback New Bern's run-dominant spread offense this fall.
Nine schools have offered Hughes – Charlotte, Clemson, East Carolina, Florida, North Carolina, NC State, South Carolina, Virginia, and Virginia Tech.
"It would be easier to name the [colleges] that haven't contacted us about him," Curlings said.
"You flip on his highlights and he just jumps out at you. In one highlight he's running back a punt; the next is an interception for a touchdown; the next highlight he's at quarterback running the option for a touchdown; the next he's at receiver making a spectacular catch, breaking a tackle, and then running it in for a touchdown. You see him in all phases of the game being dynamic and running away from people, so he catches peoples' eyes real quick."
After helping New Bern win a state title in Kenan Stadium, Hughes returned to Chapel Hill for the Tar Heels' Junior Day in February.
"I could see myself going there," Hughes said. "I liked the facilities. The coaches were great. I just like the surroundings. It's close to home."
Hughes added that he and UNC assistant coach Dan Disch communicate regularly.
One of Hughes' few summer visits was Florida's "Friday Night Lights" camp. After departing, he labeled the Gators his early favorite.
"It was nice," Hughes said. "The only problem is it's so far from home, but other than that it's really nice and I enjoyed the experience."
Hughes has begun to map out his fall visits. He plans to return to NC State for its game against Clemson in September and is looking to attend a contest at South Carolina.
Hughes has started on New Bern's basketball team since his freshman year. He averaged a dozen points this past season… New Bern has sent countless players to the FBS level. Among them, Hughes has worked out with Kevin Reddick (UNC) and Montario Hardesty (Tennessee), and is close with former teammate and incoming NC State freshman Bra'lon Cherry.