WT PRESS CONFERENCE (Skip to 9:15 in the video)
CANYON, Texas (December 13, 2016) - Colorado State University-Pueblo Football Defensive Coordinator Hunter Hughes was announced as the 28th head coach of the West Texas A&M University football program Tuesday. Hughes spent nine seasons with the ThunderWolves, all as defensive coordinator and equipment manager.
"You talk about leaving a place like Pueblo. It was hard to leave," Hughes said at his introduction press conference. "You had to have the right reasons to leave. West Texas is the right reason to leave. I have to thank the coaches at CSU-Pueblo, the players of CSU-Pueblo, John Wristen and Joe Folda for preparing me for this moment."
CSU-Pueblo will travel to West Texas A&M Sept. 9.
Hughes was the defensive mastermind behind the 13-0 shutout of then-No. 1 Minnesota State in the 2014 NCAA Division II National Championship, which handed CSU-Pueblo its first NCAA title in school history.
Helping to forge the CSU-Pueblo defense since the program's reboot in 2008, Hughes has consistently put defenses on the field that only lead the RMAC, but rank among the top units in the nation.
A FootballScoop.com Division II Coordinator of the Year Finalist in 2014, Hughes guided a Pack defense that lead NCAA Division II in scoring defense (12.8 points allow per game), passes intercepted (29 interceptions), defensive touchdowns (7) and turnovers gained (43). The defensive line totaled 3.8 sacks per game to finish fourth and the Pack ranked 13th in total defense (296.8 yards allowed per game).
In nine seasons, the defense has produced 14 All-Americans and 67 All-RMAC performers. Two former Pack defensive lineman are in the National Football League, as Mike Pennel plays for the Green Bay Packers and Morgan Fox is on the practice squad of the Los Angeles Rams.
In 2016, the Pack defense finished the regular season eighth nationally in rush defense (84.1 ypg), eighth in defensive touchdowns (5), 15th in scoring defense (17.4 ppg) and 20th in total defense (305.9 ypg). CSU-Pueblo won a share of the 2016 RMAC Championship.
The ThunderWolves defense in 2015 continued to dominate Division II and guided the Pack to their third appearance in the NCAA Quarterfinals in the previous four seasons. CSU-Pueblo finished top 20 nationally in nine different defensive categories, which included third in scoring defense (15.8 ppg) and passes intercepted (24). The ThunderWolves were also 10th in rushing defense (94.6 ypg) and 11th in turnovers gained (31).
One of the most decorated Division II coordinators in the nation, Hughes was the recipient of the FootballScoop.com Division II Coordinator of the Year award in 2011, due in large part to the performance of CSU-Pueblo's punishing defense during its 11-0 regular season. The ThunderWolves allowed a national-best 10.33 points per game in 2011 and intercepted the ball 26 times, also best in the country.
The performance of the 2011 team under Hughes' leadership was certainly not an anomaly - in the ThunderWolves' first four years of existence as a program, the team finished in the top 25 nationally in points allowed three times (including a finish of 9th in the nation in 2010).
Arguably, Hughes' best single season performance as a coach was in 2008, when the squad allowed the 37th-least points in the nation despite having one of the country's most anemic offenses during the program's first season of competition.
Hughes rose through the ranks as a coaching assistant with two of the most prestigious Division I football programs in the country - University of Colorado and the University of Tennessee.
With the University of Colorado, Hughes was a defensive graduate assistant from 2003-2006, assisting in coaching various defensive positions as well as assisting in recruiting prospective CU students east of the Mississippi River. With the University of Tennessee, Hughes also served as a defensive graduate assistant, focusing chiefly on linebackers and defensive backs.
Hughes received his Master's in physical education and sport management from Middle Tennessee State University in 2001.
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As a member of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, Colorado State University – Pueblo competes in 22 varsity sports in NCAA Division II intercollegiate athletics.