Hughes remains upbeat despite tough year

The football field is a break from a reality that hasn’t always been easy for Longhorns linebacker commitment Naashon Hughes (Harker Heights, Texas/Harker Heights) through the last year.

On Nov. 10, 2011, Hughes was asleep with six other family members inside his home when a loud explosion woke everyone at 3 a.m. The family made it out safely but the house eventually became engulfed in flames and burned down. Reports were that the fire was caused by a faulty electrical connection in the kitchen.

At the time of the explosion, Hughes, whose brother Camrhon Hughes is a redshirt freshman at Texas, was upstairs with their 13-year-old brother Christopher, who was lying in a hospital bed with two broken legs he suffered in a basketball game.

Thanks to the Naashon's levelheadedness, and an escape route they had decided on before moving in, they were able to move Christopher down the stairs and out of harms way during the fire.

The family was forced to move to a nearby hotel for some time, but eventually moved into a temporary home, where they remain now.

“We were living at a different one but we had to move,” Hughes said. “We might have to move again. So hopefully we will be back in our old home soon, since they are rebuilding it.”

On top of the difficulties that surrounded the family's house burning down, Hughes also had to deal with the news of Camrhon tearing his ACL in a pickup basketball game before Texas' fall camp started this season.

Through it all, the three-star prospect has maintained a positive attitude and is clearly endeared to his fellow student body, as was evidenced by his being part of the Harker Heights homecoming court Friday.

“It’s tough. We grew up in that house that burnt down. For it to burn down, it was really disappointing to us,” he said. “But we stick together as a family. As you see, my brother is here to watch. My parents are here. I think my grandma came down, too. We all support each other.”

Hughes hasn’t let the off-field distractions interfere with his play in any way. If anything, he has used them as motivation. For example, in last Friday’s game against Belton he was tasked with stopping fellow Longhorns commitment Durham Smythe.

“My coach told me that it was going to be Texas vs. Texas this week, so he told me I had Durham the whole game, basically,” Hughes said.

Whichever side of the ball Smythe lined up on, Hughes went right along with the four-star tight end. Smythe was targeted just two times and didn’t catch a pass.

Hughes’ biggest contribution in guarding Smythe came on Belton’s last play on offense, when it faced a fourth-and-goal from the 18 with little more than a minute left, trailing 7-0. Belton opted to give Smythe a chance at a jump ball in the back of the end zone, but Hughes knocked it down to preserve a Harker Heights victory.

“During the beginning I knew I had Durham,” he said. “I faked a blitz. The offense knew I blitzed a lot. I was trying to get one of my defensive linemen open but when I was covering Durham I knew they were either going to give him a jump ball to the corner or a fade. He was a little open, and their quarterback can throw it. But I was able to time the jump perfectly and knock it down.”