ESPN.com rankings: No. 56 OLB, No. 97 in Midlands region, No. 79 in Texas
Picked Texas over: Baylor, LSU, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and South Carolina
State of the position: The Longhorns enter 2013 with all of their key linebackers returning from 2012, including a healthy Jordan Hicks, who missed most of the season with a hip injury. In Hicks’ absence, Steve Edmond became the face of the position and played well. Peter Jinkens was arguably Texas’ most exciting player the last two games of the season and will see his role increase. Demarco Cobbs was injured late but should return healthy and supply Texas with uncanny speed for the position. Then there are holdovers like Tevin Jackson, Kendall Thompson and Dalton Santos, who should all see increased rolls due to their production in 2012.
Pros: “Hughes is a multi-talented athlete, capable of lining up in a variety of positions both on and off the line including the defensive safety spot. Is very productive playing in space whether defending the run or pass. We feel his size, athleticism and playing speed are best suited for the outside linebacker position at the major level of competition. Hughes may need some time to grow physically. However early situational playing time is a possibility if a red shirt year is not deemed necessary.” -- ESPN scouting report
Cons: “There is the need to improve his upper body playing strength however we like his hand quickness and ability to shed blocks while containing the outside run; is effective with run blitz timing off the edge.” -- ESPN scouting report
Similar to/potential role:Tevin Jackson with a touch of Demarco Cobbs. Few linebackers on Texas’ roster in 2013 will match the athleticism of Hughes. He’s a hybrid linebacker-safety type that Manny Diaz will be able to put in various different positions to capitalize on his abilities, somewhat like Diaz has been able to do with Jackson and Cobbs. Jackson made his mark on special teams in 2011 before playing more LB in 2012. Expect something similar from Hughes in 2013.
Expected impact: 2013. Hughes could very easily redshirt as his brother, Camrhon Hughes, did in 2012. But I think he’ll earn his spot on various special teams in 2013 before he begins to factor into the LB rotation in 2014 and then more heavily in 2015. Texas gave him a full scholarship for a reason. He’s that good.