• John Macon Gillespie

Taylor Hughes Reflects on NEMCC Fortius Project, Looks Ahead to ICC

Pontotoc's Taylor Hughes prepares for a kickoff at Saturday's Fortius Project at NEMCC.

Taylor Hughes is no ordinary athlete, and Saturday's Fortius Project at Northeast Mississippi Community College reflected that.

Hughes did not test in the 40-yard dash, broad jump or shuttle, but instead focused on kickoffs and field goals throughout the camp, catching the eye of the Tigers' coaches.

"It was great," Hughes told SES Mississippi. "[I felt] a little awkward at first being 'the girl,' but once I started kicking, all that got better."

Hughes may be a girl, but on the football field, she fits right in. During the 7-on-7 scrimmage at the end of Saturday's camp, Hughes was nearly perfect on extra points, so much so that she started kicking them from the 20-yard line.

Taylor Hughes has been one of the most publicized high school football players over the last year. Although she is a soccer and volleyball player by trade, her athleticism has translated nicely onto the gridiron as the Pontotoc Warriors' kicker, and the coaches at NEMCC took notice.

"I never expected to get the reaction I got," Hughes said. "It felt great to know that I actually have the potential to kick at the next level."

Along with Hughes' athleticism, her ability to adapt to different situations also led to the Tiger coaches spending extra time with her.

"I've found that one of the biggest things about being a kicker is being able to adapt to any situation," Hughes said. "The coaches at the camp were great about explaining what they wanted, and I would just adjust to fit that."

With spring practice right around the corner, adaptability and technique are things that Hughes is looking to work on before her senior season.

"I've been in the gym working to get stronger," Hughes said. "I've also been working on small, technical things that can make a big difference in the direction on my kicks."

Although Hughes is now being recruited by Northeast football, she is keeping her options open, and is looking to catch another JUCO's attention in a couple of weeks at ICC.

"I'm hoping to get the attention from ICC coaches enough to where they want to recruit me to come kick for them," Hughes said. "It would be a dream to sign with a college to play soccer and football."

It is rare for a collegiate athlete to play multiple sports, but, then again, Hughes is no normal athlete. If anyone in the Magnolia State has the ability to play multiple sports at the next level, it's her.

To join Taylor Hughes and other Mississippi high school athletes at the Fortius Project, sign up at

**Photo by John Macon Gillespie

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