August 17, 2009
Vols' Hughes in a rush to talk
Blocking Montori Hughes, Tennessee's raw but excitable freshman defensive tackle, is proving no easy task.
Blocking out Hughes' equally relentless chatter might be even more difficult.
"Montori, he gets excited. Certain players show emotion in different ways and Montori, he likes to talk," said senior defensive tackle Dan Williams. "Once he gets inside you, he's going to let everybody know. It's good. There's a lot of energy the other guys can feed off of.
"It's good to see that from a young guy. He really wants to help the team out this year, and Montori he's putting himself into a position to do that."
Indeed, since arriving on campus in January after signing with the Vols in 2008 Hughes has done nothing but emerge as a surprise force along the defensive front. Humble off the field, the Murfreesboro Siegel product appreciates the verbal jousting that's commonplace between the lines.
"I love to talk. You can ask any of the teammates. I like to talk a lot," said Hughes, an unheralded prospect who's expected to be a fixture in UT's trench rotation. "They always ask me if I'm ever going to shut up. I just like to talk and have fun. If you make things fun, it will go better. ...
"When I'm out there, it just comes out. You could say it's natural, I'm a smack-talker."
Like his game -- blunt and straightforward -- Hughes' best talk is a direct approach.
"'You can't block me. You can't block me.' That's all you hear: 'You cannot block me,'" sophomore defensive lineman Rae Sykes said of Hughes' verbal rush. "You hear it a lot, and you know the whole d-line should have that mentality. It should wear off of Montori onto everybody. It's worn off on me.
"I may not talk as much as Montori, but it's in my mind at all times."
Perhaps Hughes' outspoken nature on the field derives from his tough journey in simply getting to don a Tennessee uniform.
His only other scholarship offer when the University of Tennessee came calling late in 2007 was from tiny NCAA Division II school Carson-Newman.
His academics needed catching up, but the outgoing mauler nearly qualified in time for the Vols' 2008 season.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, Hughes has no desire in disappointing his grandmother with whom he has long stayed and now beams with joy at her grandson's college opportunity.
"I think me being here, it's a great thing. She's very proud of me" Hughes said. "I talk to her a lot. This right here, I think it made her very happy and she's very proud of me. But I'm not done yet. I've got more to make her proud of.
"Me going through what I did to get here, now when I'm here I've got to appreciate it and work harder to reach my goals and do the best I can. Me not being here made me think about it, that somebody wanted to be in this position. So I've got to capitalize on it."
Not only is Hughes capitalizing, but he's an inspiration to his teammates.
"Montori Hughes, he's a motivator. He motivates you," Sykes said. "You feel like you're not doing something correct, he'll motivate you and get you back in the spirit to do the right thing."
Who wants to block that?
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