"Yeah, it's all new and everything for me," admits the former Princeton Tiger, "but the way I look at it is that I go against the best in the country everyday. I'm not going to see anything better than what I see in practice everyday. I'll just treat it like a normal day."
Truth be told, it won't be just another day in the life of Hughes. When he made the decision to come to West Virginia following his standout prep career in Mercer County, he did so with dreams and aspirations of taking the field as a starter. After waiting patiently for his first three seasons, that opportunity will finally come in just a few days.
"It's a little bit different this year because I'll have the chance to get on the field," he said. "Of course that is really exciting for me. I'm pretty hopped up about it, but I'm trying to subdue the excitement and all of the jitters around it. I just need to keep my focus and keep working hard everyday. That's my job."
Knowing that he would be seeing the field also altered his offseason workouts. Instead of preparing for another year of backing up a veteran, Hughes prepared himself as someone who would be starting from day one.
"I worked on gaining some weight for field goal blocking purposes," he said. "I worked on the speed of my snap big time. That's something that I really, really focused on a lot. I think that I came along very well in that area."
Though the position may not be the most sought after on the field, it is still a position of need for West Virginia and every other team. During Rich Rodriguez's first six years at the helm of the Mountaineer program, stalwarts such as Scott Fleming and Tim Lindsey have been stunningly flawless at the position. Hughes will look to take lessons learned from the latter in hopes of continued success on special teams.
"I learned so much from Tim Lindsey," he said. "Tim is a great snapper, one of the best I've ever seen. I learned a lot of little things from him about blocking on field goals and putting yourself in position to make a play in coverage. I even learned about how to get more speed on my snaps from him."
In just a few short days, Hughes will put to test everything he's learned from Lindsey, special teams coordinator Bill Stewart, and others over the past through years.
"From the moment that I signed, I've waited to get out on that field during a varsity game," he explained. "I am really, really looking forward to it and I can't wait."