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The Baltimore Sun

The Prospector: Top QB Steven Hughes falls into Florida east coast abyss

The way Steven Hughes sees it, there is no real surprise to his lack of attention from colleges.

The Melbourne Palm Bay quarterback lives in somewhat of an abyss, absent major media markets that could drive his publicity. He's stuck in a Bermuda Triangle of sorts with the largest media outlets just out of reach. Orlando and Fort Lauderdale both have major newspapers, yet none consider Palm Bay to be within the circulation area. The Daytona Beach News-Journal has a decent circulation, but even tighter boundaries, and Jacksonville it too far north.

"We're out of everybody's way," Hughes said. "Orlando kids get a lot of attention because it's a main area, but being on the East Coast, there's really no recognition out there."

There is the hometown Melbourne-based Florida Today, which has an outreaching circulation area.

"They do cover us, but not like Orlando Sentinel or one of the big-time newspapers would," Hughes said.

So Hughes has to count on events like the EA Sports Elite 11 Quarterback Camp and various 7-on-7 tournaments during the summer for exposure. He certainly wowed the few in attendance at the Florida Premier 7s tourney last week at ESPN's Wide World of Sports.

Hughes, 6-foot-3, 190 pounds, passed his team to an unbeaten mark and a matchup with fellow unbeaten Winter Park in the championship game last Sunday. Winter Park prevailed 48-38, but Palm Bay gave the Wildcats a tussle.

Events like Elite 11 are somewhat of a disadvantage for quarterbacks throwing to random wide receivers, but Hughes said 7-on-7 passing tourneys can give a scout a better idea of how quarterbacks compete when they are within their own realm.

"Passing at the camps is kind of over-rated because you don't really get to show yourself passing to people you're comfortable with … competing together with teammates, that brings out the best in you," Hughes said. "I'm a lot better throwing to my teammates than other receivers from other schools, because there's no real rhythm and no togetherness with other receivers."

Hughes has three offers so far from New Mexico, Louisiana-Lafayette and FAU. He's also had plenty of conversations with coaches at Middle Tennessee, USF, Jacksonville, Auburn and Rutgers, to name a few. He is a bit slighted but also understands how it all works.

"I don't want to sound cocky, but I think I'm just as good as all the other quarterbacks," Hughes said. "It's just that they got a lot more recognition. The schools where they're at are used to having quarterbacks and Palm Bay, when I got there my sophomore year, we did nothing but run. But as time went on … we got a lot more passing in, and this year should be even more."

And he'll gladly throw the ball around. His numbers have been impressive, especially since he's helped transform the team into an efficient passing operation. He threw for more than 1,700 yards last year as a junior, with 21 touchdowns and six interceptions.

He had an excellent spring game as Palm Bay defeated the defending 5A state champion Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer – that's right, Nick O'Leary, Jacoby Brissett, Curtis Maggitt … that Dwyer. Hughes was 11-19 passing for 203 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for 58 yards on five carries, with a rushing touchdown.

"I'm just under the radar, that's all," Hughes said. "A lot of people don't know about me."

Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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