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May 5, 2009There are literally hundreds of high school juniors who will sign to play college football next February, but there is probably no single prospect that has the perspective of three schools recruiting him the way Oak Grove, Miss., athlete Jay Hughes does.
Hughes, a four-star prospect and Rivals250 athlete, is the son of Mississippi State recruiting coordinator Tony Hughes, and thanks to his father's career, Jay Hughes has already seen the inter-workings of the football programs at Ole Miss and Southern Miss, and will soon be exposed to that situation at Mississippi State.
Tony Hughes was hired on at Ole Miss by former head coach Ed Orgeron in 2005. The elder Hughes had a long career in the Mississippi junior college system prior to coaching at Louisiana Tech and then latched on with the Rebels.
Hughes coached the secondary for two years at Ole Miss before shifting to tight ends in his final season with the Rebels in 2007. He coached the secondary last season at Southern Miss before being hired at Mississippi State as safety coach and recruiting coordinator last January. He was a Rivals.com Top 25 recruiter for Ole Miss in 2006 and recruited several key players, like Cordera Eason and Derrick Davis, who have the Rebels' ranked in the Top 10 headed into this season.
With Hughes' current job in Starkville, it might be a foregone conclusion that his son, Jay, will be a Bulldog next January, but that's not something Jay Hughes is ready to admit.
"No sir," was Hughes' answer when asked if it's automatic he'll sign with State. "I'm open to anyone who recruits me."
So far, there's no shortage of suitors. He has offers from Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Tennessee, Duke, Vanderbilt, Tulsa, and Louisiana Tech.
Hughes, 5-foot-10, 183 pounds, with 4.46 speed, said he was recently told by his high school coach that he's been offered by Ole Miss, but said he hasn't received the written offer at this time.
Hughes said he started as a defensive back for his sophomore season at Oak Grove and moved to running back last season where he carried the ball 117 times for 900 yards with 17 touchdowns. He said the talk among his high school coaches is that he'll play both sides of the ball this fall.
Hughes on the three in-state schools:
Southern Miss: "I like Southern Miss pretty good. They're re-building some this year but I think they'll have a real good team. I think the offense will be pretty good and the defense was real good last year. I really like them and have them on my list."
Ole Miss: "I still have a lot of friends at Ole Miss and I've always really liked Ole Miss. I get excited just walking around Ole Miss. I really do like them."
Mississippi State: "I went twice up to Mississippi State - for junior day and for one of their practices. It was better than I thought it would be. The facilities are a lot like Ole Miss, except they (Ole Miss) have the Indoor Practice Facility that State doesn't have. It feels a lot like home there."
In addition to the three in-state schools, Hughes wouldn't discount some of the out of state schools that have offered being in competition for his signature. While Tennessee has offered, it is Vanderbilt and Duke that have caught Hughes' attention because of those two schools' recruiting efforts.
Hughes said his plans are for him and his family to visit several schools this summer and to see which programs stand out. And, despite living in Oxford for three years, Ole Miss will apparently be on his unofficial visit list.
"I'd love to go back to Oxford and just hang out," Hughes said. "Like I said, I have a lot of friends at Ole Miss and I like the school."
Despite his father living and coaching in Starkville, Hughes plans to stay in Hattiesburg and finish his senior season. He starring in track this spring and his Oak Grove team is loaded with talent that includes Steve McNair, Jr., four star wide receiver Robert Johnson and defensive tackle Vince Taylor, who like Hughes, has been offered by both Tennessee and Vanderbilt.
And, while it often fails to materialize on signing day, there's talk among Hughes and some of his teammates signing with the same school.
"Vince and I have talked about going to Vanderbilt together," Hughes said. "Some of us are definitely talking about where we might go to school together."
Hughes has a 2.8 GPA and has already scored a 19 on his first ACT attempt.