Gentle giant Larry Hughes promises stronger, meaner play at right guard
Returning the majority of players at any position group is only a good thing if the players have improved. Four of the five starting offensive linemen and nearly every reserve return for Kansas this season, so play up front should be improved.
“Out of all the O-linemen, Larry Hughes is the one who has made the biggest strides in strength and power since I’ve been here,” strength and conditioning coach Zac Woodfin said. “From where he was, he’s jumped leaps and bounds in strength and power numbers and he’s doing it with great technique. He’s so diligent and consistent.”
Hughes stands 6-foot-7 and weighs 310 pounds. Kansas was so thin on the offensive line in 2015 that Hughes, likely bound for junior college to work on his strength for two years until Kansas made an offer, started nine games as a true freshman, including the final five of the season at right tackle.
Moved inside last season, Hughes started the last five games at right guard.
“A big problem for me has been strength,” Hughes said. “And just getting bigger and stronger is going to make it a whole lot easier to do what I have to do on the football field.”
Hughes said he thinks the offensive line, which also returns starters at left tackle (Hakeem Adeniji), left guard (Jayson Rhodes) and center (Mesa Ribordy) will be “so much better.”
“We were really young last year," Hughes said. "Mesa and Hakeem had never played before and I’m still pretty young. I just turned 20. Three young guys on the O-line, now that we’re a year older and stronger that should help a lot.”
Wooden said if Hughes, “somehow found an anger switch he’d be a whole other player.”
It’s easier to find that switch for an athlete who feels confident in his ability, as opposed to one rushed into competition before physically ready. Hughes wasn’t ready to match the strength of Big 12 athletes early in his career. Now he feels that he is.
The team’s weight-room credo is “savage mindset.” Hughes gave his definition of it.
“It’s the attitude you always has to have, to be prepared to do what you have to do and act like a savage,” Hughes said.
That can’t come naturally to such a friendly giant, can it?
“It’s going pretty well so far,” Hughes said. “I mean, there’s a difference between being a nice guy in person and being a nice guy on the field.”