Maryland cornerback Trenton Hughes started all 13 games of a junior season highlighted by a big game (seven tackles, forced fumble) in a win over a ranked North Carolina State team in 2010. But Hughes had to make some adjustments in 2011. The Terps had a new coach in Randy Edsall, and Hughes was no longer starting. But Hughes, who is from Virginia Beach, Va., won back his starting position for the last three games. He recently signed a free-agent deal with the Miami Dolphins and leaves Thursday for rookie minicamp, which opens Friday.
How did you learn you got signed by the Dolphins?
I was at my (father's Virginia Beach) house. I had the laptop and my TV on NFL Network during the draft. My agent (Maryland grad Josh Stevens, who also represents former Terp Isaiah Williams of the Arizona Cardinals) already had told me Saturday was going to be my day. Seven hours straight, I didn't eat no food and watched. Every time a team that had showed interest came up, I looked at my phone. The whole draft went down. I thought Cleveland was going to pull the trigger in the seventh round. Twenty or 30 minutes after the draft was over, my agent called me up and said, 'You're a Dolphin.' I said, 'What do you mean I'm a Dolphin?' It was just a great feeling. It was a blessing.
You know anybody on the Dolphins? How about (former Terp defensive back) Nolan Carroll? Did he fill you in?
Nolan Carroll and (former Maryland tight end) Will Yeatman are there. I did my homework — made sure I knew all the coaches' names. Nolan called me up. He gave me love. He gave me a lot of information.
What did you do to stay up during Maryland's difficult, 2-10 season?
I just believed in myself and kept my family close and God first. You've got to reach deep down and find who you are as a man.
You became a starter the last three games. How did that unfold?
That was the biggest game for me. After the U.Va. game (the week before), I said, 'I'm showing my worth.' I saw film on (Notre Dame receiver) Michael Floyd and said, 'This is my opportunity.' I did my thing.
You going to surprise some people in the NFL?
Yes sir. I worked hard with (trainer) Anthony Stringfield. This is just Phase One. I'm ready for Phase Two. I don't have the deer-in-the-headlights thing.