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Football Recruiting: Chicago running back Hughes picks ND

Ken Fowler | Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Chicago running back Robert Hughes, a highly-regarded 5-foot-11, 228-pound bruiser from Hubbard High School, announced Tuesday he will attend Notre Dame.

“I think he brings a very physical style of play to Notre Dame,” said Mike Frank, who covers recruiting for Irisheyes.com, a member of the Scout.com recruiting network. “The one thing you know you’re going to get from Robert is you’re going to get 100 percent of his effort.”

Hughes chose Notre Dame over Illinois after an intense recruiting battle for the tailback’s services.

With the pickup, the Irish now have 19 recruits in this year’s incoming class, including two running backs. Miami-area prospect Armando Allen verbally committed to Irish coach Charlie Weis at the beginning of December, and the addition of Hughes gives Notre Dame its second-straight recruiting class with two premier tailbacks. In 2006, the Irish signed current freshmen James Aldridge and Munir Prince. Aldridge ran 37 times in seven games for a 3.8 yards-per-carry average. Prince saw action in 10 games but had only 15 attempts for 21 yards.

Allen is considered to be one of the fastest backs in this recruiting class. But in Hughes, Frank said, the Irish land a physical specimen with impressive size.

“It’s all solid muscle,” Frank said of Hughes’ large frame. “He’s a very cut, very strong kid. I just think he’s going to bring a real toughness to Notre Dame.”

Hughes eclipsed 1,000 yards in his first three seasons at Hubbard, and his best performances came in his third season, in which he rushed for more than 1,900 yards.

“He brings a bigger back with some power, but he’s also shifty,” Frank said. “He’s got the ability to cut right and left, which is not something all the bigger backs have.”

Full stats from Hughes’ senior season were unavailable.

Hughes, who is listed as running the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds, played in the Chicago Public League, the high school conference of new Irish defensive coordinator Corwin Brown. Brown was an all-state player at Julian High School in Chicago and was scheduled to meet with Hughes Monday, Frank said.

“Having Corwin Brown in Chicago is going to be a big thing,” Frank said for long-term Irish recruiting in the area. “He’s a guy who has a lot of juice in Chicago, especially in the Chicago Public League.”

Frank said Brown’s career path and style resonate with coaches in the league, and that familiarity can trickle down to the top players as they decide what school to choose.

National Signing Day – when high school seniors can sign binding letters of intent with their chosen colleges – is Feb. 7, but three recruits have already enrolled early for the spring semester at Notre Dame – Allen, quarterback Jimmy Clausen of Westlake Village, Calif., and cornerback Gary Gray from Columbia, S.C.