Coming off the program’s best season in school history, it was only fitting to expect hearing one of the names from the University of Central Florida’s Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl winning squad announced at Thursday night’s NFL Draft in Dallas, Texas. That name ended up being Knights’ cornerback Mike Hughes, who was selected No. 30 by the Minnesota Vikings in the first round.

Hughes now becomes the fourth UCF player to ever be selected in the opening round of the NFL Draft and is the 16th Knight to be taken in the last 10 years. The UCF defensive back was one of the top players on the Knights’ defense from last season and helped anchor the top secondary in the American Athletic Conference.

The 2017 campaign for Hughes helped showcase his array of abilities not only on defense but on special teams as well. In 13 games played, Hughes racked up 49 tackles, four interceptions, 11 passes defended and added 635 yards in the kick return game and two scores. Hughes also returned 14 punts for 233 yards and one touchdown.

Hughes becomes the third UCF player selected by Minnesota in the NFL Draft. Quarterback Duante Culpepper (1999) and defensive back Josh Robinson (2012) were both selected by the Vikings. Latavis Murray, who also played at UCF, is currently on the Vikings’ roster.

Teammate Shaquem Griffin was also at th NFL Draft on Thursday and hopes to hear his name in the mid-rounds today. Griffin was another key player for the Knights on the defensive side of the ball and despite playing with only one hand, performed well in pre-workouts leading up to the draft. The UCF linebacker wowed NFL scouts with his strength, benching 225 pounds 20 times and had the top 40-time of any linebacker at the NFL combine.

About The Author

Andy Villamarzo has covered high school and youth sports for the Tampa Bay Times and The Tampa Tribune as a correspondent since 2008. He is a native of Holiday, FL, who graduated from Gulf High School and studied at St. Petersburg College. He has covered various prep, collegiate and professional athletes throughout his writing career, including Josh Johnson (Jacksonville Jaguars), Patrick Schuster (Arizona Diamondbacks) and currently writes for other publications like The Suncoast News, Friday Night Football Magazine and

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