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December 18, 2014

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high school recruiting:

Oregon football showing interest in local recruit; UNLV in the mix, too

The Palo Verde defensive lineman could be considered an unlikely prospect for national power Ducks

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Ralph Freso / Special to the Sun

Palo Verde defensive lineman Mike Hughes (50) battles in the trenches with Desert Vista’s Sam Hartman during the second quarter of the 2012 AIA Sollenberger Classic football game on Saturday, Aug. 18, 2012, at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.

Senior DL Michael Hughes Jr.

Michael Hughes Jr., Palo Verde senior defensive lineman, introduces himself, and talks about the upcoming year.

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When the University of Oregon football program shows recruiting interest, you listen.

That’s exactly what Palo Verde High senior nose guard and defensive tackle Michael Hughes Jr. is doing, holding off on giving a verbal commitment to UNLV, Northern Arizona or UTEP because he’s on the radar of the nationally respected Pac-12 school.

Oregon coaches offered to bring him up for an official recruiting visit but haven’t extended a scholarship offer. Because it’s during a recruiting dead period from Dec. 16 to Jan. 15, Hughes is patiently waiting for the recruiting process to continue.

Oregon, with its great facilities and multiple uniform combinations, is one of more popular landing spots for recruits nationwide. Hughes is no exception.

“I have basically wanted to go there since I started playing,” he said.

The 6-foot-3, 295-pound Hughes isn’t rated as of those four- or five-star prospects Oregon typically recruits — in fact, evaluating service Rivals.com doesn’t even rank him. But at Palo Verde he is highly thought of, being promoted to the varsity team during his freshman season and starting on both sides of the line in his final three years.

This past season, Hughes recorded 56 tackles and five sacks, finishing his three-year career with 139 tackles and 13 sacks.

“He’s probably one of the better ones we’ve had in our school’s history,” Palo Verde coach Darwin Rost said.

That’s saying something at Palo Verde, which opened in 1996 and is one of Nevada’s perennial powers. The Panthers have had numerous athletes play high-level college football and even had one graduate reach the NFL.

“He’s a good kid, too," Rost said of Hughes. "Never in trouble. High GPA. Definitely a leader for us.”

Hughes and teammate Jake Ortale will take a recruiting visit this weekend to Northern Arizona. Hughes has already visited UNLV — a program he’s high on and could see himself playing in. He might have already committed to UNLV if Oregon hadn't called.

“I liked it there,” he said of UNLV. “They see some promising things with me and say I could compete to play right away.”

Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21.

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