For Kofi Hughes, the path to Tuesday’s commitment to the Indiana football program has been a long and winding road.
As a high school freshman, Hughes was a varsity basketball player at Lawrence North. Illinois and Michigan State were both already after the guard.
He was 14 years old, and hanging out with the seniors at the basketball powerhouse.
“I was trying to hang with the big guys and picked up some bad habits and made some bad choices,” Hughes said. “My parents definitely saw a difference and they didn’t like it. We made the decision to switch.”
The switch was to Cathedral, where Hughes was forced to sit out 365 days after the transfer was contested by Lawrence North.
He did not play football as a freshman for the Wildcats, because veteran coach Jack Keefer would not allow it (“Coach Keefer told us, ‘If you’re a basketball player, you play basketball. You don’t do other things.’”). But he picked the game back up as a junior, and found he was pretty good at it.
He led Cathedral to the 4A state championship and became a sought-after football prospect.
Many colleges, including Vanderbilt and Boston College, wanted to see how he progressed during his senior season before offering a scholarship. Indiana saw what they needed to see, though, and went ahead and offered.
And when Hughes settled on four criteria to determine where he will play college football — academics, distance from home, coaches and facilities — Indiana kept on coming to the top.
“I feel like we’re about to see a big upward trend from them,” Hughes said.
Hughes said that at many of the camps he visited this summer, he noticed the coaching staff was “laid back and non-chalant.”
“They didn’t have the energy and the drive that I can see in the IU coaches when I go to their practice,” Hughes said. “They have the fire. They have that drive.”
Hughes is 6-foot-2, 200 pounds and runs a 4.4 40-yard dash. He attended the Manning Passing Academy and said he has improved his defense-reading ability partly because of hours of watching the Big Ten Network.
“I’ll just sit there and watch and try to call it out before the play,” Hughes said.
Hughes is being recruited as a quarterback, but also as a playmaker. In that respect, he is similar to current Indiana wide receiver Mitchell Evans, who has also played quarterback and safety with the Hoosiers.
“When I have the ball, they just like what I do with it,” Hughes said. “I dont’ run to get the first down, I don’t run to get extra yards, I run to score.”
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