Hughes putting lessons learned to use
Nate Hughes is holding on lessons he's learned throughout his football career in hopes of making a difference in the National Football League.
The former Starkville High School football player is back in camp with the Jacksonville Jaguars and likes his chances for more playing time.
The Jaguars indicated to Hughes that he may figure more into their plans this season.
"They are looking forward to me being a big part of it," Hughes said prior to his first meeting at training camp last week. "Basically I'm just coming in, competing again and trying to win a high spot on the depth chart so I can do a little playing."
After signing with Cleveland as a free agent out of Alcorn State, Hughes also spent time with Kansas City and Jacksonville as a rookie in 2008.
He spent two weeks on the practice squad of the Chiefs, then the Jaguars put Hughes on their practice squad for five weeks before being signed to the active roster for the final game of the season.
Hughes, who was a member of the 2001 Class 5A state championship at Starkville High School, won a job in Jacksonville last season with a strong training camp last season and appeared in eight games. He finished with five catches for 70 yards and caught a 35-yard touchdown pass from quarterback David Garrard against Houston last December.
The steady progression from high school, college and now the NFL all carries its own bit of weight for Hughes.
"All of it prepared me because of the struggles you go through," Hughes said. "When I was in the 10th grade, I really didn't play much in high school and it prepared me for what happened to me on the practice squad and bouncing around my rookie year. You just know you've got to do some things to make a name for yourself before you earn a chance to play so that was all relevant.
"The things I learned that helped me the most was from my offensive coordinator in college John McKenzie. He taught me so much about reading defenses, coverages and how to run routes against them. The whole journey was a help though."
Even though the NFL is obviously the much bigger stage, Hughes said there aren't many differences between college practice and training camp.
"There's more attention put on the smaller details," Hughes said. "I've pretty much gotten accustomed to it. I'm looking at stuff better and reading it a whole lot quicker. It's going to be a whole lot easier."
Hughes was a four-sport participant with the Yellowjackets. He was a five-time letterman in track and field, earned four letters in cross country, three letters in football and two letters in basketball.
Not wanting to forget where he came from, Hughes recently held a football camp in Macon, the town where he grew up.
"The camp went well and we had over 200 kids," Hughes said. "We had a blast and had few NFL players came through to help out. I had a boat load of college players from the area come out so we had a good time."