Oct 5, 2013; Blacksburg, VA, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies punter A.J. Hughes (27) punts the ball in the first quarter at Lane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
It is odd to talk about the NFL future of a sophomore who almost certainly will be at Virginia Tech through his senior year but sometimes you can tell early on that a player has a future in the NFL. Of course, it is also odd to talk about a player having a NFL future that is a sophomore punter and obviously two years away from his chance in the 2016 NFL Draft to be picked and become a starting NFL punter. However, Virginia Tech fans knows that this man already has shown the talent to be a punter at the next level in his first two years.
That man is A.J. Hughes.
Hughes has made big impacts a lot for Virginia Tech this year and has done a great job at pinning opposing teams deep in their own territory with punts that make him look like a NFL punter. Hughes is averaging the tenth most yards in the team statistic for punting as a sophomore which is quite an achievement for any punter, especially a sophomore. Hughes has a big leg and is averaging 44.5 yards per punt while also having punts that stay in the air long enough so that the average return on Hughes’s punts is only 4.8 yards on the 41 punt returns by opposing teams.
A.J. Hughes has also had games in which he has been one of the difference makers for the Hokies in getting a victory at any point in the season. In last year’s ugly bowl game against Rutgers, Hughes had one of the best punting Virginia Tech has ever had and was one of the reasons why the Hokies were able to win and avoid a losing record. Hughes has had his first game with an average of over 50 yards per punt while also having a 64 yard punt against Maryland. Hughes has shown his talent to punt and has proven why he has a NFL future even if most of us don’t pay the closest attention to the great job Hughes has done for Virginia Tech.