ARLINGTON, Texas (UCFKnights.com) — Mike Hughes is headed north. As the 30th overall selection, Hughes was selected by the Minnesota Vikings in the first round of the NFL Draft Thursday evening.
Hughes becomes the fourth UCF player selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. He follows Daunte Culpepper (1999, 11th overall), Blake Bortles (2014, 3rd overall) and Breshad Perriman (2015, 26th overall) as Knights selected in the first round.
Hughes was a first-team all-conference selection in the American Athletic Conference at defensive back in 2017, playing for the undefeated, National Champion UCF football program. He also earned second-team all-conference honors as a kick returner. Hughes was also named second-team All-America as a kick returner by the Football Writers Association of America and also by Phil Steele.
The first UCF player to earn All-America status since 2014, Hughes returned 16 kicks for 545 yards for an average of 34.1 yards per return in 2017. He ranked third in the nation in kick return average and fifth in kick return touchdowns with two on the year. Hughes returned his first kick for a touchdown in UCF’s win over Austin Peay, bringing one back 91 yards on Oct. 28. His second was a bit more influential. With the War On I-4 tied 42-42 late in the fourth quarter, Hughes returned a kick 95 yards to paydirt, to put UCF ahead of USF for the final time and clinch a berth to the American Athletic Conference Championship Game. Hughes is the only Knight to return a kickoff, a punt and an interception for a touchdown, and he did all three in one season.
Hughes totaled 44 tackles, including 32 solo and 0.5 for loss in his one season as a Knight. He paced the team with 11 pass breakups and added four interceptions, including one for a touchdown against Maryland.
Hughes becomes the 37th UCF player ever to be selected in NFL Draft. He is the 18th UCF defensive player selected selected and the 11th UCF defensive back to hear his name called on draft day. Hughes is now the highest defensive NFL Draft pick in UCF history. Prior to his selection, Torell Troup (2010, 41st) was the earliest selection by a Knight defender.
Hughes is the third Knight selected by Minnesota in the NFL Draft. Culpepper (1999) and defensive back Josh Robinson (2012) were both selected by the Vikings. He joins Latavius Murray as former Knights who are currently on Minnesota’s roster.
Hughes is now the 13th UCF player drafted in the last 10 years. The Knights have had a player drafted in 12 of the last 13 years.