Athens Academy junior Hugh Laughlin has made his college choice. After fielding nearly 30 offers from all corners of the country Laughlin has decided on the University of Virginia.
Laughlin recently met with Cavaliers’ head coach Bronco Mendenhall via Zoom. That meeting went so well that affinity for UVA flooded Laughlin and the Cavaliers jumped off the well-inked page of potential colleges for the 6’6 285 pound rising senior.
“We just talked and it just sort of hit me all at once,” Laughlin said. “I knew this was the place that I wanted to be.”
Laughlin has been training to make the move from tight end to offensive tackle since Athens Academy's basketball season ended. That change may only stick for a season, which will be his final season at Athens Academy.
The Cavaliers have their sights on Laughlin as a defensive lineman, a position that he’s played all four years as a Spartan. Laughlin started at tight end the last two seasons but has been a key contributor in the Spartans’ rotation on the defensive line for all of his first three seasons in high school despite missing much of 2018 with an injury.
Though the interest began to peak once Laughlin made the decision to make the transition from tight end to tackle public, there were schools recruiting him as an ‘athlete’ and even fewer who were interested in him as a defensive lineman. Laughlin admits the defensive line comes most naturally to and he hopes that will get him on the field early in his college career.
“There were a decent amount that wanted me as an athlete and there were a few that wanted me as a defensive lineman,” Laughlin said. “Virginia was one of the ones. I feel like defense comes more naturally to me.”
Laughlin understands that his position is one that could always change. The Cavaliers have communicated with him that a position change could be afoot to get Laughlin on the field.
“They (UVA) want to bring me in as a defensive lineman, but they’ll play me where ever to get me on the field,” Laughlin said. “Whether that’s the offensive line or whatever then that’s where I’ll play... I know I’ll have to work for it, but I hope I will be able to make it on the field early.”
Laughlin joins Oconee County High School junior West Weeks as a recent commit to UVA. Weeks committed to the Cavaliers last week. Laughlin and Weeks have a bit of a budding friendship as they have a trainer in common in the area.
The duo has conversed about potentially playing together at UVA but before a few days before Laughlin’s decision Weeks didn’t know Laughlin was planning on joining him in Charlottesville.
“We didn’t really have it planned out, but he talked to me about it and he liked them a lot, so I knew I was going to go there, but we didn’t have it planned out,” Weeks said. “He’s going to be a huge help up there. We workout with one of the same guys and I’ve been able to see him work a little bit. He’s a really big dude that can move well, so we’re definitely building a stronger relationship.”
Laughlin plans on doing some recruiting of his own trying to sell UVA to some of the other uncommitted high school players in the area, namely his teammate Deion Colzie who recently decommitted from Notre Dame.
“I’m definitely going to talk to Deion (Colzie) some because we’d love to have him come and play with us,” Laughlin said.