If Harker Heights outside linebacker Naashon Hughes and Belton tight end Durham Smythe didn’t know each other before their game last Friday, they’re certainly acquainted by now.
The Texas commits found themselves matched up against each other for the entire night during Harker Heights’ (1-3, 1-0) 7-0 homecoming victory over Belton (3-1, 0-1,) who entered the game averaging 32.3 points and 392.3 yards per game.
“Coach [Mike Mullins] said it was going to be Texas versus Texas the whole game tonight, and that’s what it was,” Hughes said.
Smythe spent most of his night trying to keep his future teammate out of the Belton backfield or looking for open space in the flat. Friday was the first game this season that the 6-foot-6 prospect failed to record a catch.
“We were moving the ball pretty well,” Smythe said. “We just needed to do a better job of finishing drives.”
Hughes made 2.5 tackles as the former safety also took several snaps as a Wildcat quarterback and tight end on the game’s only scoring drive.
Down 7-0, Belton faced a fourth-and-goal on the Harker Heights 18-yard-line. Smythe, lined up in the slot on the left side of the field, fought off Hughes’ jam at the line and routed himself toward the back corner of the end zone.
Belton quarterback Peter Shelburne lofted a pass to Smythe, who tried to make a leaping grab to tie the game, but Hughes had other plans.
“I just went up and elevated to the highest point, [and] knocked the ball down,” explained Hughes. The play resulted in a turnover on downs for Belton, who never got the ball again.
Immediately after the ball bounced to the turf, Smythe was seen pleading with the officials for a holding or pass interference call.
“He held me,” Smythe said. “There’s no question. He was doing it all night.”
Hughes was called for holding on Smythe in the 3rd quarter when he grabbed the inside of Smythe’s shoulder pads and slung him to the ground.
“I might have [held him a little bit], I’m not too sure,” Hughes admitted.
Harker Heights’ 6-foot-5, 319-pound Darius James, also committed to UT, is rated as the nation’s best center prospect by rivals.com. He was sidelined with a broken left foot but was impressed by his future teammates.
“They played really good,” said James. “[Smythe], that’s my brother out there, he looked good tonight.”
Smythe, a three-star player ranked as the 14th-best tight end in the nation by rivals.com, chose Texas over Stanford and Notre Dame.
“The offenses are similar. I don’t know if [Texas] uses as much tight end motion as [Belton] does, but I’ll still get to do a lot of the same things,” Smythe said.
Smythe plans to report to Austin in the summer, Hughes is less certain when his college career will start. He’s accepted Texas’ offer to gray shirt, meaning that he will enroll at UT in the spring so that his scholarship will count toward the 2014 class. He still wants to enroll at UT in the fall.
“I’m cool with it,” said Hughes. “But I’m still busting my butt out here so I don’t have [to gray shirt]. I want that full scholarship.”
Hughes’ scholarship offers from Baylor, LSU and South Carolina would have allowed him to begin college in the fall of 2013, but his heart was always with Texas.
“That’s my school,” said Hughes, whose older brother, Camrhon, is an offensive lineman that is redshirting at Texas this year. “I’ve played with my brother my whole life. I just can’t wait to get up there.”
Printed on Monday, October 1, 2012 as: Commits play head-to-head