Updated: Monday, 23 Jan 2012, 12:30 AM EST
Published : Sunday, 22 Jan 2012, 2:37 PM EST
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) -
Terre Haute North punter A.J. Hughes verbally committed Saturday night to the Virginia Tech football program. Hughes told Sports 10 he was at Virginia Tech this weekend taking an official visit.
Hughes on picking Virginia Tech" They are in the top 25 in everything I am interested in both athletics and academics. Love the Community! The town is built around the college. The Culture is the right fit for me."
The 6-foot-1, 185 pound North senior is the 11th ranked high school punter in the nation in the 2012 class. The prestigious Kohl's football kicking camp nominated him as a 2012 top prospect.
Hughes has punted varsity the last two years at North. This past season as a senior, he averaged 42 yards per punt, with a career-long of 63 yards. 31 of his 45 punts had no gain or negative return yards. 42 percent of Hughes punts this past season were downed inside the 20-yard line.
A.J. told Sports 10 he is going to Virginia Tech as a preferred walk-on, but has been told by the Hokies coaching staff he is their number one punter heading into next season. Hughes said once he earns the starting job Virginia Tech will put him on scholarship.
Hughes will get a chance to play for one of the premier college football programs in the country. The Hokies have played in 19 consecutive bowl games, that's the third current longest streak in the nation. A.J. will also have a chance to punt for one of the top special teams programs. Guided by head coach Frank Beamer, the Hokies are nationally known for their special teams which is regarded as "Beamer Ball". "Its a complete honor to have coach Beamer as my position coach and the opportunity to punt for him", said Hughes. Coach Beamer even called A.J. hours before this years Sugar Bowl in which Viginia Tech lost in overtime to Michigan 23-20 to express his interest in Hughes.
Hughes picked Virginia Tech over ISU, IU, Ball State, Northern Illinios and Toledo.
The North senior is also one of the state's top pole vaulters, he currently ranks in the top 5 of the sate. Twice Hughes has been an indoor and outdoor state qualifier in pole vault. A.J. said he has coach Beamer's blessing if he wants to attempt track & field at Virginia Tech.
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