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Gentle giant Larry Hughes promises stronger, meaner play at right guard

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Kansas linebacker Josh Ehambe (17) tries to get around offensive lineman Larry Hughes during practice on Tuesday, April 11, 2016 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas linebacker Josh Ehambe (17) tries to get around offensive lineman Larry Hughes during practice on Tuesday, April 11, 2016 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

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.”

Why?

“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.”

Comments

John Fitzgerald 4 months, 2 weeks ago

We have the size and experience but do we have the execution? Time will tell.

Brock Wells 4 months, 2 weeks ago

My top 3 keys to our season that will determine our record (7-6 and I'm sticking to it):

  1. OL play (Agreed John)
  2. QB play
  3. Run defense

If the D-line stays healthy our CB play should be pretty good even with the inexperience. Punt return will be improved (can't get any worse), which will help the offense.

Andy Godwin 4 months, 2 weeks ago

If Brock's prediction comes true, Beaty would and should be Big XII coach of the year. Glad there are a few KU fans with high expectations.

Jim Stauffer 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Woodfin not Wooden. I know you are aware of this but proofreading in journalism is so bad these days.

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