Dec 17, 2011 7:56 PM
PUEBLO, Colo. (GoThunderWolves.com - Dec. 17, 2011) - CSU-Pueblo defensive coordinator Hunter Hughes became just the second coach in school history to win a national coach of the year award, being named the Division II Coordinator of the Year, presented by FootballScoop.com and SpeedTracs.
Hughes built one of the premier defenses in Division II football at CSU-Pueblo in only the program's fourth season of sponsoring football. The program's first coaching hire by incoming coach, John Wristen, when the ThunderWolves' program was being forged in the Fall of 2007, Hughes came to Pueblo after spending time as a defensive assistant at the University of Colorado and the University of Tennessee to start this program from nothing.
Wristen told FootballScoop, "Hunter really deserves the credit for building the foundation of this defense. This year he really put his own spin on it, and the guys played at an extremely high level. This was a special season."
Hughes has led a defense that showed significant improvement over last season in nearly every major defensive category. This season the ThunderWolves were #4 in rushing defense (90 yards per game), #3 nationally in pass efficiency defense (95.3), #11 in total defense (287 yards per game), and #1 in scoring defense (10 points per game).
Turnovers have been a key for Colorado State - Pueblo ranking #3 in the nation in turnover margin (1.42). The defense has gained 34 turnovers on the season, with 8 fumbles gained and an impressive 26 interceptions. Defensive backs Stephan Dickens and Mark Sterling had 5 interceptions each and linebacker Lee Meisner and defensive back Jon Bailey each had 4.
In their last five games of the season, Hughes' defense only allowed one team to throw for over 100 yards, and their most dominant performance might have come against Western State when they allowed only 6 net yards rushing on 31 attempts (.19 yards per carry). The secondary is arguably one of the best in the nation allowing no touchdown passes in 8 of their 12 games this season. Hughes' defense allowed only 4 touchdown passes the entire season.
One Colorado high school coach who nominated Coach Hughes said, "Hunter is the type of coach that you want your boys to play for and to be around for four years. He's a great coach and a better person."
According to available records, Hughes is only the second coach in the 75-plus history of Colorado State University-Pueblo to win a national coach of the year award. Former men's basketball coach and athletic director Harry Simmons won national junior college coach of the year honors in 1961 after leading then-Pueblo Junior College to the NJCAA National Championship.
The FootballScoop Coaches of the Year awards presented by SpeedTracs are the only set of awards that recognize the most outstanding position coaches in college football. The finalists (Hughes, Kienus Boulware - Winston Salem, Charlie Flohr - NW Missouri State and Brian Natkin & Roderick Taylor - Midwestern State) were selected based off of nominations by coaches, athletic directors, and athletic department personnel. A panel of coaches including previous recipients determined the winner.
Previous winners of the Division II Coordinator of the Year award are Tim Beck (Pitt State, 2008), Scott Preston (Arkansas Tech, 2009) and Ken Collums (Abilene Christian, 2010).