After buying his mom a house, rookie Mike Hughes settles in with Vikings
EAGAN, Minn. — Vikings first-round draft pick Mike Hughes definitely made the most of his time away from the Twin Cities.
After participating in organized team activities in May and then mandatory mini-camp in June, the 21-year-old Hughes returned to the West Coast to continue training for his first NFL season.
“That’s pretty much what I’ve been doing,” Hughes said. “Just training, chilling with family, and relaxing.”
Oh, and fulfilling his lifelong dream of buying his mom a house. Yes, Hughes did that, too, making the purchase last week, a day after finally signing his rookie contract.
“It was a dream come true,” Hughes said with a big smile after Thursday afternoon’s practice at the Vikings’ new facility in Eagan. “She cried and it hit me. It just felt good. It was something I’ve wanted to do for a long time since I’ve been playing. To actually fulfill (that promise), like I said, was a dream come true.”
Hughes let his mother pick the house, which is located in his hometown of New Bern, N.C.
“I’ve been working so hard to fulfill that dream,” Hughes said. “It was only right to let her choose which house it was.”
“I’ve had some ups and downs,” he added. “She’s been there every step of the way, so to do that for her, that was big for me.”
Hughes has shifted his focus now to preparing for his rookie season. After reporting to training camp Tuesday night, he has spent the past few days re-learning the basics of Mike Zimmer’s defense.
“Just to hear it again makes me feel a lot more comfortable,” he said. “I actually feel a lot more comfortable out there doing it.”
Hughes has been rotating between positions, playing cornerback, at which he excelled during his college career at the University of Central Florida, and nickelback, which he will need to learn if he wants to see the field next season.
He likened nickelback to playing weakside linebacker, meaning he dives in on certain blitz packages, while also motioning across the formation based on the action in the backfield.
“It’s been pretty equal so far,” Hughes said. “Wherever I can fit in is where I want to make an impact. I plan to do that pretty soon. I’ve just been busting my tail.”
Hughes still has some work to do learning the playbook. It hasn’t become second nature to him quite yet, though he feels like it’s only a matter of time before he gets it down.
“In college, they kind of simplify it,” Hughes said. In the NFL, “you have to know what’s going on before the snap and know how to read certain plays.”
Besides that, Hughes is also excited to finally start hitting, something that will come early next week.
“We have been in shorts for however many weeks,” Hughes said. “I think everybody is eager to start competing a little bit more once we get pads on.”