Jerry Hughes has a bright future ahead

Former TCU defensive end Jerry Hughes is known for his chameleon-like ability in football, and is proving it at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. Hughes easily transitioned from high school running back to college defensive end, and now rumors are flying that he may play outside linebacker in the National Football League.

I think this would be a wise decision, considering his just under 6-foot-3-inch, 255-pound frame. He is big enough to push the opposing offense around, but quick enough to be hard to block.

Hughes is a player who not only excelled as a running back in high school, but also made the all-district team as a kick returner. He came to TCU expecting to be the next LaDainian Tomlinson, and ended up playing defense and chasing quarterbacks around the backfield. While I’m sure originally he thought the position would be less flashy and give him less recognition, it certainly didn’t turn out that way.

If this guy is anything, he is most certainly adaptive. Hughes’s quick-step was his claim to fame in college ball. In fact, it made him the leading defensive end in the nation in 2008 with 14 sacks and six forced fumbles. And while he excelled as an end in college football, to get to the next step, I think he would be better suited as a linebacker.

He is the perfect choice to drop into pass coverage, rush the passer or read and react to the given play. He has to rely on his offensive prowess to beat the runner backs to the spot. He’ll also be asked to cover Wes Welker-like receivers, who are being used more and more as possession or chain movers in the pass-happy NFL. Although he may not be big enough for defensive end, his speed and agility make him a fit for the prototypical outside linebacker.

He is an intelligent, skilled, driven athlete, which is attractive to most NFL scouts. While he is projected to be a second-round pick, I would consider him a first-round candidate because of his impressive statistics and numerous accolades, which include being a 2009 Lott Trophy winner, 2009 Lombardi Award finalist, 2009 Ted Hendricks Award winner and a two-time All-American.

I am interested to see not only what team Hughes signs with, but also what position they’ll have this talented athlete tackling, pun intended.

Ashley Iovine is a broadcast journalism major from Katy.