The Dallas Morning News

Mike Hughes, Central Florida

-

America loves a redemption story. And Hughes is on the path from disgraced cornerback to potential first-round pick.

After a prolific high school career, Hughes passed on offers from Ohio State and Clemson to stay close to home in North Carolina, where he made an immediate impact as a true freshman for the Tar Heels. However, he was involved in a 3 a.m. fight at a fraternity house that left a victim unconsciou­s with a broken nose. Hughes left UNC after the 2015 season and resurfaced at Garden City Community College, where he earned All-American honors as a do-everything athlete.

Hoping to return to the FBS level, Hughes enrolled at UCF last August and enjoyed a productive five months in Orlando. Despite joining the program just two weeks before the season opener, he quickly found the field and developed into one of the best cornerback­s in the country, posting 15 passes defended and four intercepti­ons. Hughes also shined on special teams as the first player in school history to return a punt, kickoff and intercepti­on for a touchdown in a season.

The Cowboys invested premium draft picks in the cornerback position last season, but there is a realistic scenario where Hughes might be the best player on the draft board at pick No. 19. And although he does his best work in press coverage, Hughes has the mentality and athleticis­m to mirror receivers and be a lock-down corner in zone or man, making him tough to pass up for the Cowboys.

 ?? Jae S. Lee/Staff Photograph­er ?? Central Florida cornerback Mike Hughes (19) breaks up a pass intended for SMU’s Trey Quinn. Hughes could among the best prospects available when the Cowboys pick at No. 19.
Jae S. Lee/Staff Photograph­er Central Florida cornerback Mike Hughes (19) breaks up a pass intended for SMU’s Trey Quinn. Hughes could among the best prospects available when the Cowboys pick at No. 19.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States