The last time the Vikings had a UCF product on the roster, things turned out pretty well. Quarterback Daunte Culpepper led the team to the NFC title game as a rookie in the 2000 season. Now another Golden Knight gets a chance to make his presence felt as a rookie for the franchise.
The Vikings signed cornerback Mike Hughes, their first-round draft pick, on Thursday.
The signing comes just days before the rookies and quarterbacks are set to report to training camp on Tuesday. All eight of the Vikings’ rookies are now under contract.
Hughes, the 30th overall pick, spent part of minicamp working in the the slot to gain even more experience, and that could continue into training camp. With the depth the Vikings have at the position, coach Mike Zimmer isn’t forced to put Hughes into significant play right away.
“Wherever they want me,” Hughes said last month. “Right now, I think the main focus is learning the nickel position. [Outside] corner is something I’ve been playing recently. Just learning the nickel position, being comfortable doing whatever they tell me to do.”
Hughes, 5-10 and 189 pounds, played just one season at UCF after transferring there, but made a big impact on special teams and at corner. He returned two kickoffs for touchdowns, plus had both a punt return TD and an interception return for a score. He finished the year with four interceptions.
The Vikings’ secondary returns starting cornerbacks Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes, as well as Mackensie Alexander and Terence Newman. They also signed undrafted free agent Holton Hill from Texas. Veteran Marcus Sherels will fight for a roster spot as a return man. Prospect Horace Richardson is also in the mix. They kept six corners on the roster last season.
Rana L. Cash