Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Contra Costa Times: Bears' Hughes is a true artist

By Eric Gilmore

BERKELEY, Calif. - It was three years ago that Daymeion Hughes arrived at Cal as a freshman cornerback from Crenshaw High School-Los Angeles.

Hughes was raw. He was young - still 17 when two-a-day practices began. But when he talked to his new teammates, Hughes told them he was the nation's best college cornerback. That's right, No. 1 in the entire land. As a freshman. "I always thought I was the No. 1 corner in the country before anybody else did," the soft-spoken Hughes said Tuesday. "I always told people that.  "Now people are talking about it, but I've always felt that way."

Supreme confidence is a basic job requirement for cornerbacks. It's often based more on false bravado than reality.

But in the case of Hughes' boasts, I'm reminded of that line from Hall of Fame pitcher Dizzy Dean: "It ain't bragging if you can back it up."  Hughes played so well last year as a junior that he entered this season on the so-called watch lists for the Bednarik Award, Lott Trophy and Nagurski Trophy, a trio of honors that go to the nation's top defensive player, as well as the Thorpe Award, which goes to college football's top defensive back.

With the spotlight on Hughes this year, his star is shining even brighter. Hughes ranks second in the nation in interceptions with six_he's returned two for scores_entering Saturday's home game against Washington. With 13 career thefts, Hughes is three shy of Ken Wiedemann's school record. Deltha O'Neal's single-season Cal mark of nine is within reach, too. "He holds himself to a higher level," Cal linebacker Zack Follett said. "I love to see it out there because his confidence level is so high. He thinks that not one receiver is going to beat him."

Read the entire article here.

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