March 17, 2006

Free content: Student of the game

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One Ole Miss commitment grew up dreaming of playing college football although he was uncertain of which school that would be and didn't really have an early favorite as a youngster.

Growing up all of his life on a football field, Jamison Hughes, son of Ole Miss assistant defensive secondary coach Tony Hughes, has spent his entire life watching and studying the game of college football.

The elder Hughes has spent the last 21 years coaching football including the last 14 at the collegiate level. So it's very understandable about the younger Hughes' experience on the football field.

"Ever since he was able to walk he has been on the football field, he probably learned to crawl there as well" Hughes mother Marion said with a laugh. "Being exposed to other coaches and older players for his entire life has definitely been an asset to him as a player. Jamison has had many big brothers in his life that have helped him mature not only as a player but as a young man."

One dream of Jamison's has been to play at the collegiate level for his father.

"It's a dream come true to get to play for my dad," Hughes said. "I never thought in a million years that I would get this opportunity. I'm very excited about playing for Ole Miss, for my dad, for coach (Chris) Rippon, and for coach (Ed) Orgeron."

The younger Hughes explains that while this will be the first time that he has been coached in an official capacity by his father, he has been learning from him his entire life.

"He has been giving me tips and pointers on how to improve my game since I was seven years old," Hughes said. "I owe a lot of my success to him, not every player gets the chance to grow up a coaches son."

Apparently it's paying off. The younger Hughes started as a sophomore for Ruston (La.) and played against some very stiff competition.

"I started against the likes of Neville High School, Shreveport Evangel, West Monroe and several other great programs," Hughes said. "It helped me become a better player and the opportunity to learn against some great talent."

Hughes was a welcome addition to Oxford High School after his father was hired at Ole Miss early in 2005. He helped lead the Chargers to a 13-1 record and an appearance in the north half state championship game.

"He is a good one," Oxford's veteran head coach Johnny Hill said. "He plays with great technique, he runs well and he is a great tackler. Jamison has deceptive speed. I have seen him do some amazing things that make him look a lot faster than his 4.6 speed."

While the younger Hughes is looking forward to being coached by his dad, he is quick to point out that he isn't expecting any special treatment.

"He will treat me like any other player at Ole Miss," Hughes said. "On the field he will be coach Hughes, at home he will be dad."

Hughes is known for his great size as a cornerback; he is listed at 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds but is probably closer to 6-foot-2 and a half and 210 pounds and still growing.

"I think I'm a very physical player," Hughes said. "I try to be a smart player, and look at match ups and try to use my size to my advantage. I love to tackle, which has helped me with being physical."

Two things that Hughes plans on working on this spring and next fall is his flexibility on the field and his grades off the field.

"I have some work to do in the classroom to raise my GPA. up," Hughes said. "I have two great coaches when it comes to that, both my dad and mom are on me about my grades. I have always been an average student, but my goal is to become a better student in the classroom and a better student of the game."

When asked about his thoughts of Ole Miss and the direction of the program, the excitement in Hughes' voice was evident.

"Ole Miss will be contending for a SEC championship within two years," Hughes said. "The facilities at Ole Miss are the best I have ever seen; a whole lot better than Louisiana Tech, there is no comparison."

It's also very easy to see Hughes admiration for Orgeron.

"That's my man," Hughes said. "I can't wait to play defense for him. I love his intensity, his passion for the game - he gets me fired up big time."

Hughes is also accustomed to being coached by intense coaches. His high school coaches Billy Laird and John Dunbar at Ruston, coached Orgeron at Northwest Louisiana.



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