NJ lineman heading to Pittsburgh

The University of Pittsburgh may want to open a branch campus in the "Garden State"; the Panthers last three verbals have all been New Jersey natives.

The third came Thursday evening as Allendale (N.J.) Northern Highlands Regional offensive lineman Kevin Hughes gave the Panthers his verbal pledge.

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Hughes (6-4, 260, 5.4) becomes the second offensive lineman to verbal to Pittsburgh's class of 2005 joining Burrell (Pa.) legacy John Brown. Hughes recently scheduled an official visit to Pittsburgh for (12/10), he was hoping to hold out until then but after talking it over with his family he decided it was time to pull the trigger.

"We sat down and talked it over this week," said Hughes "In the end we felt like Pittsburgh was the best option for me, so instead of waiting for any other offers I committed."

Hughes was trying to commit earlier in the day, he could not get through to coach Pete Carmichael who was recruiting him for Pittsburgh.

"I finally got in touch with him tonight at around 6:30 PM," said Hughes "He was excited when I told him Pitt was where I wanted go. He said he talk to me more when I get there for my official visit."

Northern Highlands is currently (3-6) this season, as they prepare for their Thanksgiving battle with Pascack Valley (N.J.) Hughes plays offensive guard, defensive tackle, and is also the teams long snapper. So where does he fit in the Panther's plan?

"They really haven't said much about it, just that I'm coming in as an offensive lineman."

Hughes like many others got to see the Panthers defeat Notre Dame on national television over the weekend. Did the youngster come away impressed?

"That was an awesome game Pitt showed so much character and unity, they wouldn't quit," said Hughes "They are (6-3) and on the rise, they have one of the best young QB's in the country and I'm proud to be a part of that."

What did your parents say when you told them you wanted to go to Pittsburgh?

"I said all along that I'd like to stay on the east coast so they could see me," said Hughes "They try to keep me level headed, but they were really excited that I'm going to college to play football."

Did you discuss your plans with your high school coach?

"Coach Simonetti played a large part in my recruiting, he was always talking to coach Carmichael," said Hughes "I told him I decided to go to Pittsburgh and he was very proud of my decision."

Any plans for the family to watch "The Backyard Brawl" on Thanksgiving night?

"I definitely plan on watching that game."

Hughes is registered with the NCAA Clearinghouse he has a 2.8 GPA and has a qualifying score on the SAT. He was receiving interest from Rutgers and Buffalo at the time of his commitment.

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