Yesterday, cornerback Mike Hughes became UCF’s highest drafted defensive player ever when the Minnesota Vikings picked him in the first round. Hughes exceeds the previous high watermark by a UCF player in the NFL draft, set when defensive tackle Torell Troup went in round two to the Buffalo Bills eight years ago. Hughes is the eleventh UCF defensive back to be drafted.
Before the season started, Hughes’s former coach described the corner as “a gift from God” for UCF and “a future NFL draft pick.” He was right on both counts.
Hughes was a critical part of the UCF’s National Championship team. A transfer from Garden City Community College (and before that, UNC), Hughes played a single season for the Knights in a critical area of need. In terms of defensive stats, Hughes had 49 tackles, four interceptions, eleven passes defended, and a forced fumble. He was an AAC first-team all-conference selection as a defensive back.
The Vikings have drafted UCF players before – Daunte Culpepper in 1999 and Josh Robinson in 2012. And Hughes will be in good company with former UCF running back Latavius Murray is currently on the Vikings roster.
In Hughes, the Vikings gain a polished and physical corner. Oh, he’d make a fine return man, too:
That epic return in the War on I-4 may be on the most significant plays in UCF history.
The selection of Hughes in the first round ticks off a few boxes in terms of bragging rights:
1. UCF now one of only 15 schools to supply the NFL with three first round draft picks in the last five years. UCF is the only non-power conference program to have done so.
2. The Knights now have four first round draft picks in program history (or, because comparisons are fun, twice as many as rival USF).
3. Hughes was the only AAC player taken in the first round.
In addition to Hughes, UCF fans should expect to also see Tre’Quan Smith, Jordan Akins, and Shaquem Griffin selected as the draft continues.