After missing out on former LSU general manager and recruiting whiz Austin Thomas, Tennessee might have found the next best thing out of Florida. Drew Hughes, the Gators’ director of player personnel, is leaving Gainesville in favor for the same position in Knoxville, as first reported by FootballScoop.
Was told last week that Drew Hughes was a very big asset for the #Gators over the past 4 years & Tennessee should feel great about his experience and what he can bring to Knoxville.
— Trey Wallace (@TreyW_Radio) January 6, 2018
Same. Confirmed “He’a going (to leave Bama for UT),” source said. Good work Trey & Scoop. Huge get for Vols. https://t.co/kuIlr9TRy1
— John Brice (@JohnDBrice1) January 6, 2018
Hughes worked alongside Jeremy Pruitt at Alabama from 2007-11, thus serving the connection for his new job. He was originally hired by Will Muschamp in December of 2013, serving one season as director of player personnel for the Gators before Jim McElwain was hired.
This is where things get interesting: due to the coaching change in 2014 and assistant turnover in each of McElwain’s offseasons at Florida, Hughes carried a big recruiting load to fill gaps that assistant coaches and staff would normally plug.
That rang true through the Gators’ most recent coaching change as well, and the young Hughes helped stabilize Florida during Dan Mullen and staff’s transition , as detailed in this story by Gator Bait Net, the 247Sports affiliate that covers that Gators. There’s little doubt that Hughes was instrumental in helping Florida land top dual-threat quarterback Emory Jones.
Under Hughes, the Gators’ have never finished lower than No. 21 in 247Sports’ team recruiting rankings, with Florida averaging a No. 13 ranking in his four finished classes in Gainesville. Like the story above says, Hughes has helped level off a Florida class that saw double-digit decommitments following McElwain’s firing.
Despite just 15 commits, the Gators’ 2018 class is ranked No. 16 in the country. Hughes’ experience with coaching turnover should lend a huge help to Pruitt and the Tennessee staff in the final month before the February signing period.