Photo credit: Michael Reese
Growing up, some kids choose to play football. Others, like Treyvon Hughes, take up the sport because their mama tells them to.
“When I was in second grade, my mom basically forced us to play football or basketball,” the UTEP senior running back said. “The sport didn’t matter. She just wanted us to get out of the house and do something, instead of playing video games.”
Shetara Dickerson just wanted to make sure her son was keeping busy and staying out of trouble. Little did she know that little Treyvon would fall in love with the sport and, a decade later, he would make it his livelihood at UTEP.
Treyvon Hughes’ football career has taken a long and winding road. He bounced around between offense and defense in high school, preparing him for a future of bouncing around between offense and defense at UTEP. But finally, right now in 2019, he has settled in as the Miners’ starting tailback, and is off to a stellar start in his final year with the Orange and Blue.
Hughes treated his mother and his father, Jasper Hughes, with respect during his formative years.
“It was always ‘Yes, Ma’am’ and ‘Yes, Sir,” he said. “They were pretty religious. My grandparents on my dad’s side were actually pastors. And on my mom’s side, my uncle and aunt were pastors. So I had to go to church every week.
“We didn’t have chores. We really didn’t have a curfew, either, but we had to be in before the streetlights [turned on].”
Hughes’ football career continued at Waxahachie [Texas] High School. He played running back as a member of the freshman team. He moved up to the varsity team as a sophomore and made the switch to linebacker.
As a junior, he played primarily running back and rushed for 1,461 yards and 16 touchdowns, on his way to earning first team All-District honors. After his junior season, he started getting contacted by college recruiters.
“It was then that I realized, ‘Oh man, I guess I really have a shot at a college scholarship,'” he said.
But before he could figure out where he wanted to go, Hughes moved in with his dad and transferred to Hebron High School in Carrollton.
He piled up another 1,445 rushing yards with 14 rushing touchdowns as a senior, including six games with 120 yards or more on the ground. Meanwhile, his college search was underway.
“My first offer was from Iowa, and then Northern Colorado,” he said. “I took visits to Iowa, Northern Colorado at UTEP. Iowa was a good school – a Big Ten school – but I just didn’t really like it there. I felt like the people had a lot of animosity. So I didn’t know if I really fit in. Northern Colorado was a nice school with nice coaches, but my grandparents really talked me out of that one. And then they told me, ‘Just go to UTEP.’ So I came here, and I had L.A. (Dowell) and Josh Bell as my hosts. They showed me a great time, I had fun, and everybody was really welcoming. I think that is what ultimately persuaded me to come here.”
Hughes played sparingly at running back as a freshman, then redshirted his second year at UTEP. He moved to linebacker for his sophomore campaign, but it was actually his idea to make the switch to defense.
“I got injured after my freshman year, and I was like ‘Man, maybe if I just go out there and make tackles, I won’t hurt myself again,” he said. “I just kept thinking about it. I mentioned it to coach [Sean Kugler] a few times. And at the beginning of the spring, coach called me into his office and said ‘If you want to do it, go ahead.’ I said ‘All right, I’ll give it a try.'”
In the back of his mind was something his high school coaches had told him when he originally moved from offense to defense.
“They would say ‘Go out there and be an athlete and make tackles,'” he said. “So that’s what I tried to do, just make plays.”
Hughes made plenty of plays during his sophomore season, tallying 40 tackles and earning six starting assignments. But prior to his junior year, the Miners landed a new head coach in former Kansas State assistant Dana Dimel.
Dimel needed a big body at the heart of a ball control offense, and at 6-1, 235 pounds, Hughes fit the bill. He returned to running back, rushed for 320 yards as a junior, and this year, became the Miners’ featured back.
Hughes was asked if he prefers playing on offense or defense.
“It just depends,” he said. “I like running the ball and scoring touchdowns. But on defense, you don’t get hit as much. So it can vary, honestly. Basically, whatever position I’m playing right now is the position that I love.”
He has forged close relationships with his Miner teammates.
“The guys that I hang out with the most are Walter Dawn, Q [Quardraiz] Wadley and Josh Fields,” he said. “Those are the guys that I gravitate towards, as well as Chris Richardson and Ron Awatt. I usually stick with that group.”
He has also developed a tight bond with the UTEP coaches.
“I love the coaching staff,” he said. “I think they’ve brought out some leadership qualities that I didn’t know I had. [Running backs] coach [Reggie] Mitchell has gotten me to talk to the other guys a lot more.”
He sees the UTEP offense progressing from game to game, and credits the line for its success.
“We have [Derron] Gatewood and Greg Long back, so they really help me out a lot,” he said. “Without them, I wouldn’t have the yards or the type of season I’ve had.
“I’m frustrated with how we played against Texas Tech, but you have to move on. Since then, we’ve talked about being fast and physical, and we’ve tried to bring that mentality into every game.”
Hughes is on a fast track to receive his Masters of Leadership Studies in December of this year. He’s waiting to see whether his future will feature the extension of his football career, or a joining of the work force.
“Depending on what type of season I finish with, I’ll try to keep playing,” he said. “At first I wanted to work in the FBI, but now it’s more up for grabs. I’m even thinking about getting into coaching.”
Perhaps Hughes will wind up working for the FBI and coaching. After all, his time at UTEP has shown that he’s capable of doing just about anything.
Author: Jeff Darby – UTEP