SANTA ANA, Calif. -- Two-star defensive end Garrett Hughes still has only one scholarship offer. He is a Semper Fidelis All-American, and still, just one scholarship offer. Not that it matters to the 6-foot-3, 250-pounder out of Corona (Calif.) Centennial. He’s all smiles as he dons the red, white and blue during this week’s West team practices.
“It’s amazing,” says Hughes, who looks around, wide-eyed, as if he’s just now become aware that he’s wearing the words ‘All-American’ across his chest. “All my hard work has paid off, and I’ve reached one of my goals.”
On Hughes’s official visit to his eventual school of choice -- California -- Hughes was stern and focused, even downright stoic. That façade -- and about 15 pounds (“Just running and practice,” he laughs) -- have melted away as he comes down to the home stretch of high school football, after he, Under Armour All-American Cameron Hunt and their Centennial Huskies fell to Concord (Calif.) De La Salle in the Open Division state title game.
“It’s just amazing to be out here,” says Hughes. “The opportunity and actually being a part of this, it’s unreal, almost.”
Coincidentally, Hughes’s bookend on the West defense this week has been De La Salle Spartan Austin Hooper, and behind them has been De La Salle middle linebacker Victor Egu -- a Cal target and a Cal commit, respectively.
“I want to see how my team’s going to be, how we come together as a team under a new coaching staff,” Hughes says. “I want to see who else we get. Everybody here who’s a part of Cal, I really like so far ... It’s cool. We all already hit it off. I’ve talked to Jared, Sunshine (Anderson) -- I’ve talked to all of them -- Muhammad -- I talked to all of them. It’s really cool. I really enjoy it. I’m really looking forward to the next four years with them.”
Hughes has yet to speak with new defensive line coach Barry Sacks, who was hired during the December dead period, or new defensive coordinator Andy Buh, for that matter.
“I just want to see the coaching staff,” says Hughes. “I talked to coach [Sonny] Dykes a couple of times, and I was still in contact with [former offensive line coach Jim] Michalczik, and I talked to the offensive coordinator (Tony Franklin). It’s the dead period. My dad was telling me that [Buh] was coaching Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. He told me to watch their defense.”
Hughes -- originally recruited as a defensive end -- played the three-technique defensive tackle during practice on Tuesday, and was a force to be reckoned with during one-on-one and one-on-two drills against the offensive line, which will be good preparation for being a part of Buh’s anticipated 4-3 alignment.
“I can do a little bit of everything,” Hughes smiles.
What’s he looking forward to the most when the actual game kicks off on Friday? That’s simple. He just smiles: “Winning. Get that dub.”