Practice Tour: Travis Hughes

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. --- On their way home from visiting Clemson, Travis Hughes and his father made an impromptu visit to North Carolina on Sunday.

"To be honest, we really weren't there long at all because [the coaches] were about to go into a film session," Hughes said. "We just came, said ‘what's up' to all the coaches, showed them some love, and just left after that."

Before leaving campus, Hughes did continue preliminary official visit scheduling talks with the UNC coaches. The 6-foot-1, 215-pound linebacker is considering the weekends the Tar Heels host Clemson and Georgia Tech.

"I'm still thinking about if I should take an official visit to North Carolina or not," Hughes said. "I've been to North Carolina a lot now. I'm seeing if I should take official visits to schools that are five-seven hours away instead."

Hughes is also considering official trips to Clemson, LSU, Michigan, and Tennessee.

"Right now, the plan is to take all five [official visits]," Hughes said. "But if I think I need to pull the trigger, I'm going to pull it [sooner]."

Officially or unofficially, Hughes plans to attend several college football games this season.

"I'm going to try to make it to as many games as possible," Hughes said. "I'm not sure on my schedule, but I'm probably going to be somewhere every [weekend]. I want to try to take as many [visits] as I can, before I pull the trigger."

UNC has been a "solid" leader for Hughes since the spring.

"Right now, [the UNC coaches] know where I stand with them," Hughes said. "The coaches are confident with where I stand with North Carolina, right now. [During Sunday's visit] they were saying ‘Ok, Mr. Tar Heel.''"

Saturday's visit to Clemson moved the Tigers into second place in Hughes' mind, leaping Maryland and Virginia Tech. But it wasn't enough to unseat UNC.

"Coach Butch Davis is putting together a national championship-type program and it feels like that when you go up there," Hughes said. "…They're getting recruits. They're trying to build that [into] not just a basketball school, but a football school and I like that.

"The location is really good for me – it's not that far from my house. It's just a beautiful campus, beautiful school, great coaches, I'm going to get better there – that's why I'm looking at them right now."

Demetrious Nicholson, who plays for cross-town rival Bayside, is in the same boat as Hughes. They both have been favoring UNC for a while, but want to take visits before actually committing.

"We're definitely picking each other's brain," Hughes said. "Tre and I talk on a regular basis."

If Nicholson commits to a school first, Hughes admits it will affect him "to a point."

"He's a good friend of mine," Hughes said. "But it ultimately comes down to what I really want to do."

Hughes also has a brother playing football at Maryland, several friends at Virginia Tech, and he considers Clemson's Tajh Boyd "like family."

Hughes also communicates regularly with T.J. Thorpe, who verbally committed to UNC in March.

"[Thorpe] is somebody that's really heavy trying to recruit us," Hughes said. "I was talking to him earlier [Thursday] and he was like ‘What, you haven't committed already to North Carolina?'"

Most schools have given Hughes the choice between playing running back and linebacker.

For longevity purposes, he favors linebacker.

"I'd rather hit people than take hits," Hughes said. "It's a different level of competition when you get to the college level – everybody's huge, everybody's fast, everybody's strong…

"I have good speed, but I'm not a speedy ‘back. I'm more of a ‘hit you hard' type ‘back – I'm not going to give you a little shift. That's going to wear on me."

Hughes starts at both running back and linebacker for Kempsville.

Offensively, Hughes is a do-everything ‘back in a spread offense.

"Similar to last year, we want [Hughes] to be a force on offense – a guy that can carry the ball and get those first downs and eat up yardage, and also a guy that we can dump it off to and use in the passing game," Kempsville head football coach Jamaine Paddyfoot said. "He's also a good blocker with great hands."

Hughes primary plays MIKE (middle) in Kempsville's linebacker corps. However, injuries have forced him to practice at all three linebacker positions this off-season.

"We'll use him to spy, we'll use him to blitz, we'll use him to roam the field," Paddyfoot said. "We just want to put him in the best position to make plays." Travis Hughes Profile

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