Hughes (6-2, 212) out of Calabasas High, says campus feel will be among the top criteria in his decision. WSU came away with flying colors in that regard.
“When I first saw the college it was an amazing experience. I loved the college town, how everybody is really rooting for the football team and how the people have so much love for the campus. I love the coaching staff. They’re really good people … I love the campus, it’s so beautiful. It’s so green and so alive,” said Hughes.
CF.C asked Hughes how his experience at Wazzu compared to some of the other schools he’s unofficially visited, such as UCLA and ASU.
“Wazzu, I felt, was more unique,” said Hughes. “You go to these other places they have a lot of commercial (businesses) while Wazzu, it feels like family … it’s a bunch of mom and pop businesses and it has a family feel and family component to it. All of the people were just really, really friendly.”
Hughes on Friday spent time watching film and talking with WSU assistants Roy Manning, Ken Wilson and Alex Grinch.
“They really told me where I stand and how I would be used, they’re really looking at me for that RUSH position,” said Hughes. “They think I rush the passer very well, and they also think I can cover and play in space.
“They liked my pass rushing ability but most of all they like my potential and versatility. They want to poke around and see what else I can do besides rush even though I’m known for that. They want to see if I can do man coverage, normal coverage, if I can play other positions like nickel and WIL linebacker.”
HUGHES ALSO ENJOYED meeting area recruiter Derek Sage in person for the first time.
“He’s very hyped up (laugh) and he’s a very enthusiastic coach with a lot of energy. He loves football … We text every day and I call him most weeks. I thought all of them were just very truthful guys -- they didn’t play around, they just told me how it is and they didn’t try to sell me on anything – very upstanding and very knowledgeable,” said Hughes.
And he laughed when asked if he had seen Manning's enthusiastic videos on twitter.
“Yes, but he’s also real down to earth, he’s a real chill guy. He flips that switch on when he starts coaching, just like a football player flips the switch,” said Hughes.
Hughes was encouraged by his chance to earn early playing time at Washington State, something else that could play into his decision.
“There’s going to be a lot of guys, 6-7 guys, but the one who works the hardest will get that starter’s spot,” said Hughes.
Hughes made the trek to Spokane on Saturday and took in the Cougs’ spring game, where he took notice of both the defense and the Air Raid.
“There were a lot of big hits and good defensive play with the limitations they had because it was a spring game,” said Hughes. “And I also got to see some of the explosive guys they have on offense.”
Hughes lamented that his mom had to work and was unable to come with him to Wazzu for the long weekend, but he plans on bringing mom with him for his official visit to Washington State in the fall.
“I’ll probably take most of my officials (and) I’ll probably commit when my season is totally over and it’s laid back. I’m not really looking at trying to commit before the season, I’m trying to really evaluate every college because every college is evaluating me," said Hughes.
Hughes racked up 69 tackles this past season, including 22 tackles-for-loss, with 20 sacks, 23 quarterback hurries, and one forced fumble in 15 games.
He is rated the No. 263 overall prospect nationally. He is rated the No. 21 outside linebacker prospect nationally, No. 9 in the West and No. 4 in California.
“An explosive athlete with a great first step and can really get off the ball. He plays almost like a hybrid rush end/outside ‘backer.” – Scout.com national analyst Greg Biggins.