May 10, 2024

Brian Hughes Jr. finishing what he started in Elks Rookie Camp

EDMONTON – Elks DB/LB Brian Hughes Jr. is certainly leaving a good impression in his first CFL Rookie Camp.

The hybrid linebacker/defensive back has been occupying the SAM role during the three days of on field sessions, and safe to say, he’s making people take notice. Hughes Jr. began camp with a solid interception on the first day, but followed it up with three more on Day 2, including two pick-6s.

With Rookie Camp being his first ever trip to Canada, Hughes Jr.’s performance in camp may have just extended his stay.

“I’ve never been to Canada before, so Canada’s pretty cool,” he said. “I’m just kind of learning from the vets and from the other guys that have went pro. So just trying to be like a sponge and soak it all in. I love playing for this defense. It’s fast, physical, and fun.”

Hughes Jr. comes to Edmonton after signing with the Elks in February. The 25-year-old spent the last year of his College career playing at Bethel University in Tennessee where he received Second Team All-Mid South Conference honours. It was at a tryout camp shortly after that he caught the eye of EE General Manager Chris Jones.

“I just finished up my season in college and I had a workout for coach Jones in December, like right after we got done with the season,” Hughes Jr. said. “I went and worked out for him. He said he liked what I was doing and he wanted me to work out for him again. So I worked out for him, and then after that workout was when I signed with the team.”

Brian Hughes Jr. (#31) tracks down running back Justin Rankin (#34) during Elks Rookie Camp

Hughes Jr. is taking advantage of an opportunity that just a few years ago may not have even been an option. Prior to returning to college, the Richmond Hills, Georgia native had been away from the game to do what is best for his family. If it wasn’t for his son Kalil, Brian Hughes Jr. may not be playing football, never mind excelling in Elks Rookie Camp.

“I had my son, so I took a couple years off, started my business, and was making sure my family was good,” Hughes Jr. said. “I’ve got a lot looking up to me. That’s the reason why I went back to college, because I was like, ‘man, I always set a good example for my son. I have to finish what I started.’

“I didn’t want my son to ask me one day why I didn’t finish something that I started. Especially when I’m telling him to do the same thing.”

Hughes Jr. did the walk, so in the future he can talk the talk. He finished his degree, but still the desire to give pro football another opportunity continued to burn.

“It’s always been a dream for me to go pro, so I’m just trying to make the most of it, feed my family, you know?” Hughes Jr. said.

So far, Hughes Jr. has certainly made the most of it. He fits the prototype for what coach Jones looks for in a defender — he’s long and lean at 6-3 and 195 lbs, and he is definitely athletic. Hughes Jr. said he has been timed at a 4.4 forty-yard dash.

Between Elks on field sessions, he says he is really only watching film, bouncing off ideas with other players in the locker room, and making time to call his son. With the Elks roster needing to be cut down to 85 players by Saturday, he will know later tonight if he’s moving on to Main Camp on Sunday. Regardless of the outcome, he’s put in the work to be here and is thankful for the experience.

“When I got a shot I just wanted to make the most of it. When coach Jones  said he liked me in the workout, I started really learning more about the CFL so I could, make the most of the next tryout,” Hughes Jr. said. “Now I’m here at camp, so I’m just trying to make the most out of this and learn from this experience. I want to keep growing.”