Chicago, IL (UHND.com) – For the last month Robert Hughes was down to two schools – Notre Dame and Illinois. On Tuesday, Hughes was down to one school after ending his recruiting and picking the Irish over the Illini. Hughes became the 19th commitment in this year’s class – the 7th from Scout.com’s Top 100.
Hughes was ready to make his decision in early January with Illinois being his likely destination, but something told him to wait. Since then we’ve learned that Darius Walker was leaving early for the NFL and that Notre Dame has hired Chicago native Corwin Brown to coach the defense. Those two factors seem to have really swung Hughes to Notre Dame after it appeared he was a lock for Illinois.
Playing is and always was a major factor for Hughes in his recruitment. He wanted the opportunity to see the field early and with Walker leaving, the door is wide open for someone to step in and be the starter next year. Granted Notre Dame will have a few very talented backs competing for the spot, but the battle for that position should be wide open and should be the second most compelling story in spring and fall camps.
What Hughes will have going in his favor is his toughness and powerful running style. From the moment he steps on campus, he will most likely be the most physical runner on the Irish squad. On a team that has had trouble picking third and fourth and short situations over the last two years, that powerful running style could earn him some very early playing time.
Hughes won’t dazzle you with his speed or his moves in the open field like Armando Allen, but he will impress you with his straight ahead power running game. Hughes just does not go down on first contact and almost always drags defenders a couple extra yards when he does go down making him a perfect compliment to Allen.
Because of Hughes’s power and Allen’s speed the two are drawing comparisons to Reggie Bush and Lendale White from last year’s USC team. I think Hughes and Allen, however, will be used more like Reggie Bush and Deuce McAllister were this year for the New Orleans.
Hughes, like McAllister can move a pile and can pound teams between the tackles. He can wear a defense down and soften them up for a pitch to the outside to Allen.
This was a huge pickup for the Irish. Hughes rounds out the offensive side of the ball for this class perfectly and he gives the Irish something they have been sorely missing – a big back who can pick up the tough yards.
This past season one of Notre Dame’s favorite plays on a 3rd and short or a 4th and short was the quarterback draw because the Irish did not have a back on the roster who could take the ball and get the first down by running through a defender. Hughes gives them that ability.
After being “Zooked” on Martez Wilson, its also nice to see Notre Dame get Hughes out of Chicago. With Corwin Brown on board look for the Irish to start flexing their muscles more and more in the area because of Brown’s close ties to the Chicago Public League.
Speaking of Martez Wilson… Hughes was seen at an Illinois basketball game with Wilson this past weekend. Now that Hughes is on board with the Irish, it will be interesting to see if Notre Dame can get Wilson to reconsider before Signing Day.
Regardless of what happens with Wilson, adding Hughes to this class was truly the icing to the cake on the offensive side of the ball. A year after Notre Dame brought in one of the most well rounded and talented groups of offensive players, it appears they have out done themselves again this year.