Legacy’s Casey Hughes ready to run wild

Posted: September 19, 2013 in General, Preps
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

By W.G. Ramirez

Nevada may not be a hotbed for high-school football talent – not like Florida, Texas or California – but there have been some decent names to emerge from Southern Nevada over the years.

This season is no different, with the likes of a former NFL great’s son playing for almighty Bishop Gorman and the son of a Boston Red Sox outfielder starring for Faith Lutheran. But while their fathers’ spotlight may help them steal the headlines, the most prolific running back in Southern Nevada just might hail from North Las Vegas’ Legacy High School.

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Legacy HS senior Casey Hughes has rushed for 391 yards in the first two games of the season.

And his name is Casey Hughes.

“What surprises me about him more than anything (is) his heart,” Legacy coach Dave Snyder. “That’s a big deal for running backs, especially in a power game, because you’re gonna get hit. And to take that hit and keep moving … that’s what impresses me; that’s an ‘Oh my God’ player.”

That’s certainly the phrase that may have come out of many people’s mouths last Friday night at Legacy, where he torched Palo Verde’s normally staunch defense for 237 yards rushing and three touchdowns in a 47-32 loss. The senior standout took the second play from scrimmage during Legacy’s second possession 95 yards for a touchdown, and single-handedly kept the Longhorns within striking distance of the Panthers in the second half.

“He steps it up, his intensity steps up, so do (his teammates); and you’ll notice that,” Snyder said. “You’ll notice that in practice, in a game, on the sidelines – it really is a big deal. He’s not a vocal leader, he’s not one of those kids that’s going to jump (on) you, but he’s going to show you. And if (his teammates) jump on that – and they do – he’s more than capable of … taking over our team.”

According to NevadaPreps.com, the 190-pound back ranks fourth in Southern Nevada in rushing yards, and while he trails Matt Misnier (439 yards) of Tonopah, Keenan Smith (406) of Faith Lutheran and Sherman Nash (401) of Sunrise Mountain, those teams have played three or four games already.

Hughes, who has 391 yards on 31 carries, has done it in two games.

Not bad for a kid Snyder said he wasn’t sure had his mind set on being a track star or a football player heading into spring ball.

“I think in the last seven, eight months, I think he’s leaning toward just being a football player,” Snyder said. “And I think that’s what’s helped him blossom as a football player, because his focus is about becoming a football player instead of just being an athlete. I think that’s what making him a step above right now.”

And while Hughes was quick to concede he’s become extremely comfortable at running back, after spending a majority of his high-school football career in the defensive backfield, he also credited his offensive line for working just as hard to make life easier for him.

CHughes2

Casey Hughes is receiving attention from schools out of the Pac 12 and Mountain West Conferences.

“If they block good for me, I told them I’d make the biggest plays I can,” said Hughes, who is getting attention from the entire Pac 12 Conference, and several schools from the Mountain West Conference. “So any opportunity I get to have the ball, (I’m) making sure (I’m) gonna run my hardest.”

According to first-year Legacy running backs coach David Peeples, that’s all he’s ever seen out of Hughes, is someone with a lot of heart, and someone who always puts forth his best effort.

“I knew with that speed that he would be a great player, if he just learned how to run like a running back, instead of playing like a DB; no one is gonna catch him once he gets past the (line),” Peeples said. “Once I saw him making the cuts he’s supposed to make and make guys miss, the secondary players that have no business being in the park with him, I knew that dude (was) gonna be a special kid.”

How special?

Ask Snyder, a veteran Southern Nevada coach who has seen the best talent come and go spanning three decades, and Hughes draws comparisons to a list of some of the best names to come out of here, not to mention one of the greatest running backs in NFL history.

“A strong comparison that I’ve used since I saw him run at camp was like an Eric Dickerson-type runner,” Snyder said. “He stands tall, but he’s powerful … he runs well. You get that going straight ahead, that’s tough to stop.”

And from Southern Nevada, the best comparison might have been to former Bishop Gorman standout and current Dallas Cowboys star DeMarco Murray.

“I don’t think he’s football savvy like DeMarco was as a senior, (but) I think Casey is developing that,” Snyder said. “He was battling whether ‘I’m a track star,’ or whether ‘I’m a football player.’ Now that he’s developed into an ‘I’m a football player’ type, he’s definitely a DeMarco Murray-type kid.

“He can catch, he can run, he can do it all and he has that same build of a DeMarco Murray.”

So while Randall Cunningham’s son – Randall Cunningham Jr. – is starring for Gorman, and it’s Faith Lutheran’s Smith who is Shane Victorino’s son, the most prolific running back in Southern Nevada just might be found off North 5th Street and Deer Springs Way in North Las Vegas, at Legacy High School.

And his name, ahem, is Casey Hughes.

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