Camrhon Hughes claims to be a laid-back guy, but you wouldn’t know it by the way he carries himself on a football field.
“It’s like two different people,” Hughes said. “It takes a whole lot to get me mad. On that field, I don’t know, something happens. I get really serious, and I hype up my team a little bit while I’m out there. I just get in a zone.”
His double-sided temperament has served Hughes well. The Harker Heights offensive tackle will be a senior this upcoming season and is one of 18 members of a Texas 2012 recruiting that iscurrently ranked No. 1 by ESPN. Hughes plans on graduating high school early and joining the
Longhorns for spring practice in January. Despite Texas posting a disappointing 5-7 record last season, Hughes’ desire to don the burnt orange and white never wavered.
“They’re a powerhouse,” Hughes said. “I’ve always loved Texas, and when I was getting recruited, that’s where I wanted to go. When I got the chance to go there, I jumped on it.”
Hughes is Rivals.com’s No. 89-rated recruit from the 2012 class and earned a spot on the second team of Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Reebok Super Teams. The 6’6”, 270-pound anchor of Harker Heights’ offensive line boasts a 28.5-inch vertical leap, which serves him well while he plays center for the Knights basketball squad. Hughes, who is also on the track and field team, is not a naturally angry person, but that doesn’t mean he’s immune to agitation.
“What angers me is when no one is out there trying to play for the team,” Hughes said. “We’re trying to win games out here. That’s what makes me mad out on the field. That and when people are playing dirty. I don’t really get mad too much, but when I’m on the field I get really serious and I don’t take things too lightly. When we’re playing, we’re playing to win.”
That type of mentality will certainly fit in well at Texas, where winning is practically a necessity and the football program is under unmatched scrutiny. Harker Heights isn’t under quite that extensive of a microscope, but they do share one thing with Texas — a frustrating seven-loss 2010 season.
Hughes’ Knights went 0-5 against teams that finished the year with winning records as they ended the season with a 5-7 mark. Their three victories came against teams that finished 5- 6, 0-10 and 1-9 yet Hughes remains optimistic about his team’s chances for improvement in 2011.
“I want to say (the season will) go pretty good because the last couple of years we’ve been really young,” Hughes said. “We didn’t have a lot of seniors. We didn’t win many games last year, but I would chalk that up to us making a lot of mistakes during clutch moments of games. We always beat ourselves up. It’ll come with experience.”
Texas is trying to bounce back from a losing season of their own and recruiting classes like the one coming in 2012 will help them do just that. Hughes may one day be blocking for the gem of that 2012 class, Aledo running back Johnathan Gray, as well as one of the most prized prospects from the 2011 class, Cibolo Steele running back Malcolm Brown.
Both Brown and Gray led their team to state championships last year, with Gray becoming the first junior to earn Texas Gatorade Player of the Year honors following a season that saw him run for more than 3,200 yards and a record-setting 59 touchdowns. Brown, who compiled nearly 2,600 rushing yards and 30 touchdowns, and Gray will likely soon be the focal points of a downhill running game that head coach Mack Brown is determined to showcase in the near future.
Hughes is confident in his ability to block for highly-touted tailbacks such as Brown and Gray, as well as quarterbacks such as Garrett Gilbert, but avoids becoming cocky to the point that he doesn’t see room for personal improvement.
“I just want to finish people better,” Hughes said. “I feel that I have everything else down. I’m not usually stronger than the other person, but I try to be quicker and more agile and smarter.”
The overhaul of Texas’ coaching staff didn’t scare Hughes away either. He says that he has good relationships with the new personnel, including first-year offensive line coach Stacy Searels, as well as co-offensive coordinators Major Applewhite and Bryan Harsin. Hughes is also familiar with one of the quarterbacks he could be blocking for, freshman David Ash.
Harker Heights and Belton, Ash’s former team, are both a part of District 12-5A, meaning they face each other once a year.
Offensive linemen such as Justin Blalock, Jonathan Scott and Kasey Studdard are still fresh in the minds of many Texas fans. That’s what happens when you help the Longhorns win a nationaltitle.
As long as Hughes continues to flip the switch from docile to dominant when he steps onto the gridiron, there’s a chance he will be fresh in the minds of Texas fans for years to come.