Central's Hughes overcomes knee injury to sign with D-II school

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Wed. March 7, 2012 | Matt Baker | Email

Central lineman Josh Hughes figured his chances of playing college football ended in the summer, when his high school career was cut short by a preseason knee injury.

Hard work by Hughes and his coaches kept his dream alive. Hughes, a 6-foot-3, 192-pound senior, signed with the University of Minnesota-Crookston last week, Bears coach Mike Einsphar said.

“Josh grins from ear to ear every day,” Einsphar said.

No one was grinning in August. Hughes blew out his knee on the first day of practice with pads. His senior season was over. Central lost its starting center and one of its captains and defensive ends.

“That was one of my initial killers this year,” Einsphar said of his winless season.

Hughes worked hard on his rehab and continued to hang around the Bears. He never missed a meeting or skipped a practice, even though he couldn’t participate.

And Central’s coaches worked hard to get him a college offer. They made a highlight tape of his spring contest and the two or three games he played as a junior. Einsphar said Hughes was understandably worried about losing out on a scholarship but remained positive.

“He kept his head up,” Einsphar said.

The hard work paid off last week when Hughes signed with the Division II Golden Eagles of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference. Hughes plans to study law enforcement with the goal of becoming a wildlife officer.

And he’ll play football against D-II powers like Minnesota-Duluth and Winona State.

“He’s still tickled pink he has a chance,” Einsphar said.

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