In the most densely-populated state in the country, there exits one of the best-kept secrets in the realm of college football recruiting. Junior running back Elijah Hughes of Elizabeth High School has managed to fly under the recruiting radar for a while, but he is single-handedly starting to change that.
In an effort to prove that he is among the top prospects in New Jersey's recruiting class of 2012, he has taken to the camp/combine circuit this off-season.
Hughes' latest effort included a stop in Oakland, N.J. this past weekend for the NUC/Rivals Five-Star Showcase.
"It was good, great competition and a great experience," said Hughes. "There were linebackers putting their hands on you. They didn't quit, they way they started was the way they finished. It was fun all around."
Hughes was one of the quickest players at the star-studded event and the way he accelerated out of his cuts was nothing short of mesmerizing. He ran through each individual drill with tremendous fluidity and had the quickest feet of anyone at the Showcase.
And when it came time for the one-on-ones, no one could keep pace with Hughes. What makes his performance even more remarkable is that Hughes was playing with a minor groin injury.
"It's still hurting a little bit, I was probably at 75 percent," said Hughes.
Yet, at 75 percent, Hughes was still one of the quickest players at the Showcase. No one showed as much agility as Hughes during the positional sessions which involved an array of individual drills.
That performance came a couple weeks after Hughes was nothing short of dazzling at the Badger Sport 7-on-7 at Rutgers University. Among the 32 teams at that event, some of which came from as far away as Michigan, Hughes was again one of the quickest and most dynamic players on the field.
But the season has only begun for Hughes as he plans to hit as many camps and combines as he possibly can.
"I'm probably going to hit some college camps," said the 5-foot-8, 165 pound Hughes. "Rutgers, Boston College and some other schools."
Rutgers was among the first few schools that have started to show an early interest in Hughes.
"They sent me a couple of packages with their camp information to fill out and stuff like that," Hughes said of Rutgers.
Hughes racked up 25 touchdowns last year and his junior season highlight tape is one of the most impressive of any running back in the northeast. However, he is looking to put together a senior campaign that is even more sensational.
"I lost some weight from running track, I'm just looking to put it back on," said Hughes. "Right now, it's just weight room and track. I have the speed. I can be faster and more explosive but, at this point, it all starts in the weight room."
Hughes claims that his grades are very good which also alludes to the fact that this talented junior won't remain a secret for very long.