PREP FOOTBALL: Cullman’s Hughey commits to South Alabama

Cullman’s Jaylen Hughey. (Joe McElroy/The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Bearcats standout Jaylen Hughey has had a busy couple of months being recruited by schools all over the south and after racking up offers over the last several weeks, he has decided to take his talents to Mobile to play with the South Alabama Jaguars and head coach Steve Campbell. Hughey is listed as a 3-star athlete by Rivals after running for over 1,200 yards and nine touchdowns for the ‘Cats in 2019, averaging nearly 10 yards per carry and earning 6A second team All-State honors. Hughey was an impact player for Cullman on the defensive side of the ball as well.

Hughey has become familiar with the coaches at South Alabama since his junior season ended and he’s been able to establish good relationships with the entire staff.

“They were my first offer after the season, and they’ve been in touch with me pretty much every day ever since and I’ve facetimed with the coaches two or three times a week. All their coaches send me mail, its not just two or three of them it’s the whole staff,” Hughey said. “They all want me down there so that’s why I felt like it was the best fit for me.”

Jaylen got an opportunity to visit the campus in Mobile before COVID-19 made recruiting visits more difficult and really became comfortable with the surroundings. The Jaguars are still a young program but Hughey is excited to head down there and help build.

“It was very nice down there. Their facilities are brand new; they’re getting a new football stadium in September so they’re just building everything,” Hughey said. “They’ve only had a program for 10 years and pretty much started from the bottom so they’re just building down there, and I figured I’d join them.”

Even though he’s already making plans for his college career, Jaylen still has a lot he wants to accomplish at Cullman before he leaves. The first thing he wants to work on is being a better person off the field, in the classroom and everywhere else while also excelling on Friday nights. Hughey is aiming high this season and has high expectations for both himself and the Bearcats next season.

“I just want to be a better person. That’s what I want to work on is just being a better person in all aspects of my life and keep doing what I’m doing on and off the field,” Hughey said. “I definitely want to win the region championship and my personal goal is rushing for 3,000 yards. That’s been my goal,” Hughey said. “We had a lot of juniors on the team last year so we’re going to have an older team next year.

Bearcats Head Coach Oscar Glasscock has only coached Jaylen for one season but isn’t surprised to see him get this attention from college teams. Glasscock sees a rare combination of talents in Hughey and that will give him a lot of paths to get on the field at the next level.

“He’s got real God given ability. He plays with a tremendous amount of power, strength and explosion. He just has a rare combination of strength and speed and he’s very versatile,” Glasscock said. “A lot of colleges were looking at him as an inside linebacker, a rush outside linebacker, an H-Back, a tight end and a running back. Jaylen is kind of open to any of these positions, but South Alabama liked him as a running back. He’s just super talented, he’s really been blessed, and I’ve only really known Jaylen for about a year and a half now.”

Hughey will follow his former teammate and partner in the backfield Jayden Sullins onto the Division 1 stage in 2021. Sullins signed to play for the U.S. Naval Academy in January. Glasscock is proud of both his standout ball carriers and is excited to see what effect it can have on the program he and his staff are trying to build.

“I think it’s a great testament to the program here to have our second straight running sign with an FBS program,” Glasscock said. “It’s just a great testament to the type of program we’re putting together and it’s a testament to the kind of ability that some of the kids around here have.”

Glasscock has seen Hughey develop into an elite player in a short period of time, but he’s seen his effort, attitude and maturity grow just as much.

“My total tenure at Cullman has been about a year and a half and I’ve just seen remarkable growth as far as his decision making, his maturity, his work ethic and dependability but Jaylen will be the first one to tell you that he’s still a work in progress, like we all are, me included,” Glasscock said. “He understands he still has a long way to go and I think that’s a great characteristic about him. He’s self-aware. He doesn’t think he has arrived or anything like that. He knows there are still things that he needs to work on and get better at. Successful people constantly seek to improve, and I think he’s got that drive and that mentality. He wants to improve.”

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