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No. 32

With Ron Cherubini

Neal Hughes

Tailback Made the Most
of his Totes in ‘67

Hughes Made Stasavich’s Single Wing Fly…
Even if He and the Old Coach Never Saw Eye-to-Eye

By Ron Cherubini

(Submitted Photo)

College football fans may not readily recognize it, but East Carolina could very well be known as Running Back U. With a long string of high-performance backs like Ernest Byner, Carlester Crumpler, Leonard Henry, Anthony Collins, Jerris McPhail, Eddie Hicks, Les Strayhorn and others coming out of the program, you could make a case for the RBU label, for sure.

And in the chronology that is ECU football, there was a back that in his one season in the backfield, etched his name among the best ever.

Neal Hughes’ story is a little unique in that he was a star running back in high school and as a freshman at East Carolina, yet did not get back on the field as a running back for the Pirates until his cantankerous coach finally relented and let the back from Asheboro do what he always did best… run.

“Coach Stas and I didn’t really get along well,” Hughes said. “Nobody, really, would say that they could really get along with Stas except for the quarterbacks, who had breakfast with him every morning at 7 a.m.. Of course, if I had to eat with him every morning, I would have jumped off a bridge. We didn’t really seem to see things eye to eye a lot.”

Call it a test of wills with Hughes, a youngster, and the notoriously stubborn Stas squaring off from day one. But, when push came to shove, the two agreed in the end that Hughes was one hell of a running back.

In 1967, his senior season, Hughes led all East Carolina rushers out of the famous Stas Single Wing, piling up 1,484 yards on 283 totes. He was named the first-team back on the All-Southern Conference team and led his team to an 8-2 record. Hughes was good and he’ll be the first to tell you that he sometimes thinks about what could have been, had he been in the backfield for the entirety of his varsity career.

“Of course, I thought ‘what if,’ mostly about my junior year, not so much my sophomore year,” Hughes said. “It was probably that Stas didn’t give me a chance to play my junior year, and I believe (if he had) I could have made a difference (for the team).”

During his years – 1964 through 1967 – Hughes made plenty of difference to the East Carolina athletics program and it all began a little bit by happenstance.

(Submitted Photo)

From Backyard to the High School Field

Football wasn’t even on the menu for Hughes during his youth days. Not that he didn’t love the game at a young age, but when you have a mom who worries, football sometime is tough sell.

“Football was never really part of my life as far as playing except in the backyard,” Hughes said. “I grew up playing Little League baseball and basketball. But football was always interesting to me. We played some rough games in the back yard.

"My mother was adamantly opposed to me playing football. She was ok with the other sports, but not football. She held sway over my father, so I never really played football until I was a sophomore in high school at Asheboro High.”

Getting Dad's Attention

“I remember when my father told me I could go out for football,” Hughes said. “He probably (said yes) because I bugged him so often. I would like to have overheard that conversation with my mom…. When I went out for the team, I had friends telling me how to put on the pads and where they went in the pants.”

Hughes was a sophomore and on the junior varsity. Because he possessed great speed, he was a running back on offense and played linebacker on defense.

“I was about 160-165 pounds at that point,” he said. “It was a good learning experience for me and we had fair success. I got a feel for the game itself.”

Hughes got a good grasp on the sport and it wouldn’t take long for him to lock down a permanent gig on the varsity.

“My junior year, I was on the varsity,” he said. “I didn’t start the first game, though I did run back kick offs and punts in that game. In the second game, the guy (ahead of him) got hurt and they inserted me and that kind of started it all. I had some success, and then in the next game, I had a little more success and then it sort of snowballed.”

From his first game, it was clear that Hughes had a knack for running the ball. Not just because of his speed, but more so for his ability to find space where it looked as if there was none. His team ran out of multiple sets – unbalanced line, Wing-T, two backs, split backs and even a three-man full-house backfield.

“I never played much defense in high school,” he said. “ Every once in a while, I got caught out on the field and had to stay in (and play defense) sometimes.”

He was effective from the get-go running the ball, mostly because he loved doing it.

“You know, really, having the ball and being able to outmaneuver and outrun and outsmart people, that is what I like (about running the ball),” Hughes said. “I really was introduced to running the ball playing soccer in 9th grade. We didn’t have a (formal) team, so we made our rules up and played it in PE class. I played goalie because in our game, the goalie was allowed to field the ball and run with it. I would get the ball and run with it all the way down the field and throw the ball in the goal.

“I was blessed with pretty good speed and agility. My peripheral vision was my saving grace because I could see a lot, almost behind me, I guess. Not being a big guy, you need to know some things going on around you. That is my startings in the game. I guess it was instincts more than anything else and I did play all of the sports and did pretty well. If you do things instinctively, then it becomes second nature and part of you and you don’t miss anything out there.”

Though his mom was very hesitant to let her son play football, she did keep up with the action in her own way.

“I don’t really remember my mom (Nan) coming to a high school game, though she would listen to them on the radio,” he said. “My dad had some heart problems at the time, so he couldn’t get too excited and sometimes he would have to go into another room. I remember one night; my brother brought my dad (the Rev. Robert L. Hughes) to a game in the stands. He said it was a whole lot easier to watch and see the game rather than listen to it on the radio.”

While his parents were passive observers to his unfolding career, Hughes did have solid sources of meaningful influence over his development.

“We had a great football coach at Asheboro,” he said. “He is a legendary coach in these parts, Lee J. Stone. He had coached Charlie Choo-Choo Justice at Asheville and won a state championship there and also at Broughton High in Raleigh. He was a great coach, but you did tip toe around him. He was that type of head coach.

“The guy who was really influential to me was Max Morgan, who was the offensive backs coach and the baseball coach. I played baseball, so I was around him a lot. He was one of those coaches who wanted to please. I remained close to him until he died and I was a pallbearer in his funeral six months ago. When I think about high school, it is not long before my mind shifts to him.”

'Up for Grabs' as a Recruit

Growing up in the western part of North Carolina, Hughes had barely even heard of East Carolina let alone its football program and he had never been remotely near the campus. He was getting plenty of attention from colleges for football, including Wake Forest, Duke, South Carolina, Furman, Dartmouth, and Army, among others. All the schools, including East Carolina, could not resist recruiting him based on his exploits in high school.

“My junior year, toward the sixth or seventh game, I started to notice things,” Hughes said of interest in his abilities. “I was having fair success running the ball, averaging 150 to 200 (yards per game) and scoring quite a bit and making long runs, so people started coming around. Then, you know, the coach starts saying that so-and-so was asking about you and so-and-so was at the game. People write about you in the paper, so you kind of know something is up. Although, you know, kids today probably think different than we did in the ‘60s. I never really thought about a great (football) career, I just took the next level as it came. I guess my senior year; I realized that there was interest out there in college. Where it was going to be was up for grabs. East Carolina kind of came into the picture sideways.”

Then-Pirate assistant Odell Welborne had sniffed out the talented Hughes and was looking to put on a full-press to acquire his talents.

“I had talked to Wake Forest and Duke, who told me that they wanted to send me to Fork Union for a year, and also the people from South Carolina and Furman about football,” he said. “And those people from Dartmouth came around from the Ivy League, but I would have been a fish out of water there. Army sent me an application as long as War and Peace and I didn’t even try to fill that out. I was really looking at Wake and some of the alumni took me over there for a visit.

“East Carolina came along out of the blue and I didn’t even see it coming. I started reading about East Carolina and, of course, they had just beaten Wake Forest at the (Ficklen) stadium dedication game down in Greenville, so that interested me. I was learning more about them and me not being the biggest thing going at 165 pounds… I thought East Carolina would be the best match. Also, they had a baseball program and I knew the coach there and they had an interest in me playing. The scholarship money in baseball was not there and I was able to get a full scholarship in football, so I had to let baseball go for a couple years.”

There was more to the recruiting as well.

“Odell came and recruited me and my good friend in high school, John Schwarz (OL, 1964-67),” Hughes recalled. “John was one of the best pulling guards you will ever find and was the best ever to play (at ECU), in my opinion. (In high school) I always followed him; I always knew number 71 and was behind him with the ball. We decided we would go as a package and we did… even roomed together for four years.”

Welborne reeled Hughes in and delivered him to Coach Henry VanSant, the frosh skipper under Stasavich.

For Hughes, the VanSant effect took hold quickly.

The East Carolina Experience

“Henry VanSant, let me tell you something, that guy… where Max Morgan was my high school mentor, this guy Henry VanSant was the same for me in college,” Hughes said. “More so… if you were to go to war, you want him with you. Of course, if he was mad at you, you would want to be in the next state. What a great, smart, tough guy Coach VanSant was. I really admired him from afar and we’ve become very good friends to this day.

“When I played freshman ball, that was when freshmen ball was really freshman ball.”

And with real freshman ball came real lessons for Hughes, compliments of his coach.

“During freshman ball, I remember one time that Henry VanSant challenged my manhood,” Hughes said. “It was half-time of a game and he pulled me aside and he got that look in his eye that you just didn’t want to see. He said I was turning tail. After that, I found that additional courage. After the ballgame, coach told me that I showed him something. That meant a lot to me.”

Hughes also learned a little about desire and discipline through that hard-line VanSant style.

“But, there were a number of people he didn’t care for because they didn’t put it out on the line and he would let them hear it every day,” he said. “He expected you to leave it all on the field every day. All those tales you’ve probably heard about (VanSant’s freshmen), I’m sure… there are probably not too many exaggerations about Henry. And you know, there is nothing he wouldn’t do even today if a player needed him. Henry is definitely the kind of coach you never forget as a player.”

While he was adjusting to his new environs, he was also adjusting to a new kind of football.

“The biggest change I had was going from a Wing-T and split backfield with a quarterback, to a Single Wing where I am sitting back there with other guys and the ball comes directly to you, which is not so bad because it is like getting the ball five or six yards deep – like a tailback. You can see the field and I liked that because I could make decisions (more easily). Of course, the bad part was, in high school I threw the ball three times. I was not a quarterback. That was a totally different ball game. Not necessarily how to throw but how to do it under pressure and anticipate cuts and where they are to be.

“That was quite an experience, the Single Wing. Other than that, the experience you can equate (freshman year) to is the first week of a new job. All of the sudden, everyone there is good as you are. We were all recruited and all there to play ball. They were all good, but there can only be 11 out there at a time.”

And of those 11, Hughes was toting the ball on the offensive side and doing quite well.

“I think we were 3-2 and we lost to North Carolina State by a touchdown or two,” Hughes recalled. “I remember the losses more than the wins. We played a terrible game against N.C. State and they really weren’t any better than we were.  And, I think we lost to Chowan, which was a Junior College at the time that was always ranked among the top 10 (JUCOS) each year. They didn’t beat us by much. But, I also remember, we won the big game. The game I was most proud of was against the Naval Apprentice School. They were men and playing military ball. It was us boys really against a bunch of men and those men were good and mean and we beat them up there.”

While his frosh coach, teammates and fans were noticing his offensive talents, the big man – Stas – wasn’t very impressed.

“Stas didn’t come down much,” Hughes said. “Only time you saw him was when you had a joint meeting or once in awhile. Stas was a throwback to the ‘30s, ‘40s, ‘50’s style. He was kind of aloof. Very sarcastic and he left (the football) up to Henry. Henry was molding men and weeding out players for Stas.”

Expecting that he would be a back in Stas’s offense as a sophomore, Hughes readied for his second year.

“I didn’t have any expectations, but I knew I was as good as anybody on offense,” Hughes said. “But, Stas sort of banned me from the offense that year. He told the defensive coordinator he could keep me. I played a little if the guy in front of me got hurt. I still ran back kicks and I played cornerback and I had a great, great time. You know, in high school, I never played a down on defense, but I really enjoyed it in college. I was getting better and understanding more and being able to anticipate more. I had no hard feelings that year.”

Though he soaked up the fun of playing defense that sophomore season, how Hughes ended up on defense was a story in itself.

“Yeah, my sophomore year…that’s when the tale gets real sorted,” he said. “I started at the tailback position and followed the guy who wore number 43 the year before – Bill Cline. He had matriculated to the CFL. Bill was an excellent passer and was a pretty good runner, too. Bill was a great, precision passer, so following him into the lineup was… I was just the opposite and was learning how to throw the ball but could run. I did well enough over spring drills and started the first game as the tailback. Not boasting here, because it goes straight down hill from here, but the first time I got my hands on the ball, the first play from scrimmage in the first game, I busted about a 65-yard touchdown, which was enough to swell somebody’s head. Everyone was making a big deal about it.

“But, about the 4th quarter, I got a helmet in my left thigh and it bruised very badly. I came out and it just got worse and worse. It swelled up and turned purple and they had to drain it. I was getting shots and it was just a bad deal.”

His injury was not quick to heal.

“I started the next game with tape and extra padding,” Hughes retells. “I kept getting hit there and it was getting worse. Then, my confidence took a hit and when you start thinking more, you perform less. Therefore, I wasn’t that great and one thing led to another. It was obvious and I couldn’t run, so the second team guy – George Richardson – came in, and I went to the defense. I kept taping up and it aggressively got better.  It worked out that year because George was a great, real pocket passer and of course we had Dave Alexander at fullback, who had a great year running the ball. George carried the passing department for us and David ran the ball and that was the year we went to the Tangerine Bowl. It turned out that I stayed on the defense all season and every once in a while, I went in on offense if George was shaken up or the offense was stalling.”

For Hughes, that defensive initiation was worth a year away from all he knew as a player.

“On defense, I learned to play and it was really fun to sneak up there and hit someone,” he said. “The great thing about defense is that when you get the scouting report for the week coming up, you learn a whole lot about the tendency of the teams you are going to play. It is like playing a film in your head and you know what they are up to. You are already in their huddle almost. So, I was able to use speed and quickness and intercepted a few and had a lot of fun doing it. And, I did get to play some offense at the Tangerine Bowl.”

That season, the Pirates were a strong 9-1 and Hughes contributed big-time on the defensive side of the ball. With such a strong year on defense, Hughes truly had no idea what his junior year would bring.

“(That year) we had the absolute worst record,” Hughes said of his junior year in 1965. “It’s the only year I ever lost in football. I felt this then and never really said it, and I’ve talked to Coach VanSant and Coach (Harold) Bullard about this. They begged coach Stas to let me have the tailback position. But he was so stubborn and wouldn’t. I knew the guy in front of me couldn’t get the job done. You have to make big plays… you have to be able to make bad plays good now and then and turn around a game. The type of plays you don’t plan on, they just happen. You have to have the instincts. I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t out there.”

That season, ironically, the Pirates won the Southern Conference with a 4-1 record, but finished the season with an unimpressive 4-5-1 mark. So, heading into his final season, Hughes resigned himself to the thought that he would be on defense. He and his coach’s personalities simply did not click and it made Hughes even more rebellious at times.

“You know, I never came into camp out of shape,” Hughes said. “I don’t think it (Stas’s opinion) had anything to do with what kind of shape I was in. But I came in my senior year and went through the first week of three-a-days and it was still obvious that Stas wasn’t really enamored with what I was doing.”

Whatever Stas’s opinion of Hughes as a player, it was exacerbated by what the rising senior did prior to his final season.

“Mainly, I went to see the baseball coach – Coach Earl Smith – after my junior year and said, ‘You know, if you want me to play baseball, I’m available.’ He said, ‘What about Stas?’ I said, ‘I don’t care.’ Now, baseball meant that I would miss spring ball, which is no-holds barred. So, Coach Smith worked me out at 2nd base – I had played 3rd all my life. Coach Smith worked me out under cover of darkness and we struck a deal. I told him he could break the news to Stas. They got into a big fight and Stas said he wasn’t going to go along with it, and Smith said he couldn’t stop it and that he would give me a scholarship if Stas didn’t. I ended up playing baseball that season and when the shortstop’s arm started to bother him, I ended up starting the year at shortstop. We were 25-5 and we had a great team. We got beat in the regional play-in game for the NCAAs by West Virginia, 2-1.”

Satisfied with the joy of a great baseball season, Hughes then had to march over to the football field where a less-then-thrilled coach was waiting.

“So, now I am coming back to football and Stas was still fuming because I had one-upped him, I guess,” Hughes said. “I remember, linemen had to run the mile under seven minutes and backs under six minutes. I could run it in 5:30 or something like that. I was out there and Stas was there with his stopwatch standing next to Henry VanSant. I was determined that I would run that mile in as little under six minutes as I could. I wanted to maybe nose under to get under Stas’ skin, so I ran it in like 5:56 and had to run the final lap at a full sprint. That is the kind of relationship we had and it was as much my fault as his.

“Then, I got mononucleosis the 2nd week of camp. They put me in the infirmary and shot me full of fluid with our first game a week away. Then, we left to go to William & Mary and I was going to play defense and that is exactly as it started my senior year. But, our tailback – Dennis Young – got hurt in the first quarter, and then our fullback – George Gay – broke his leg about the same time. So I went in without asking and Butch Colson got his chance to play as a sophomore and neither of us came out for 10 games. Butch had a great year, his greatest year ever that year, and he was a tough, tough kid. He always looked like Frankenstein because he was always stitched up for something.”

Hughes had a pretty nice year as well, leading the team in rushing and garnering all-conference honors as he led his team to an 8-2 record.

“Nothing breeds success like success,” he recalled. “You get on a roll and anything is possible. Confidence is the great equalizer in this game. That is something I carried forward when I coached.”

Life after East Carolina

After his senior season, Hughes stayed in Greenville to work inside the program.

“I coached the freshmen while I was waiting to go on active duty in the Army,” he said. “Bill Cain was the head coach and I worked under him.”

Hughes had enlisted in the Army as a reservist and would go on to spend 8 months on active duty, serving as a drill sergeant.

“I didn’t take intimidation and sarcasm forward with me as a coach or a drill sergeant,” Hughes said. “I believe you certainly get more out of a kid if you learn how to get it out them. Some respond differently than others. What Stas’s methods did to me was get me thinking about how to get even and that isn’t the way I wanted to motivate.

“When I was on active duty and I had to train a platoon,” he said, "drill sergeants are not all little Napoleons. You could wake up a platoon and smack them around or let them be men by walking in and waking them up and telling them they have 15 minutes to be on the parade ground, or you could harass or treat them like kids and you will get (kidlike-behavior) out of them. I knew the difference between being challenged like a man and when I was in college being treated like it’s a game – that was not really my philosophy, I was a back who hung around the linemen for self-preservation.”

After active service ended with the Army, Hughes went back to pursuing what he thought would be his future career.

“A guy I played ball with – a blocking back – had gone over to Ayden to be the head coach there,” Hughes said. “(Ayden High) was coming off a state championship and had won 40-straight games and Nelson Gravatt (1965-67, blocking back) had inherited a program on a down year. He talked me into going and helping him, so I did. Back in those days, even though I didn’t have a (college) degree, but they had a certificate program and I taught under a B certificate and took the teacher’s exam and taught history. I did that for three years and then got a call from Wachovia Bank from a guy who knew me and wanted me to help him crank up a personal banker program in Asheville. People knew me around (Asheville) and I did that for about four years.”

Working at Wachovia, Hughes interacted with a number of large account holders and was exposed to many different businesses. One relationship turned Hughes’ career on a dime.

“A customer I knew from high school who had borrowed money from time to time called me one day,” Hughes said. “He told me that his company was starting a sales (department) and thought I might fit the bill. He offered me $2,000 more than I was getting paid at Wachovia, so I took it. That is when I got into textiles.”

That endeavor blew up big for Hughes who remained with that company until it was sold to Colgate-Palmolive in 1987. When his former customer was fired and Hughes was feeling antsy to leave, the two struck out on their own and launched a venture called Elastic Therapies Incorporated.

“We started a company of our own,” Hughes said. “We ended up taking all of our customers and eventually bought back our own building. You know, you hear people say, ‘football is like life,’ and usually can’t stand (clichés) like that, but when it is the 4th quarter with three or four minutes left, you really are going to find out who you are. There are things like this in business. Instead of panicking, running, hiding, and crying, you got to sit down and work through and have confidence in your abilities. You have to have confidence in those people around you. In business, you hire the best you can find and give them the tools to do the job and then get out of their way. The cream will rise and you will know it. Good people and good tools get the job done and in football, that is the same story. So the cliché is accurate, I guess.

“I really do think that athletes probably make better business people and people period than non-athletes. Of course, there are exceptions, guys who went through the trenches when you overcome things and you come out stronger.”

Looking Back & Giving Back

Hughes sold his part of the company in 2003 and headed into a well-deserved early retirement. He and his wife of 17 years, Tammie, are now spending time being involved in other endeavors and reflecting on life.

Neal & Tammie Hughes (Submitted Photo)

“I’m very active in my church,” he said. “I had a life-changing experience. I’ve been a Christian all my life, but I haven’t always lived the way I should have. I firmly believe the scripture, if you raise a child right, he won’t get too far from it when he grows up. I’m sure my parents prayed me through a lot of things in my life.”

Hughes has been putting in some hours helping many of society’s forgotten people.

“You know, I decided it was time for me to give back a little,” he said. “I have a ministry at the Guilford County Jail. You go into the cellblocks and get locked in there with (the inmates). I’m not sure a bookish accountant finds that exciting, but an old tailback and cornerback does. I don’t go there to commiserate, but we definitely do talk. It is very hard for me to believe that the guys that I played with could ever have turned out this way. To make the bad decisions that these men have made… now everyone makes a bad choice now and then… but it is hard for me to believe the decisions many of these men made in their lives. Being a criminal is about as foreign from athletics as it can be.”

His mission at the jail is to help those who need it the most.

“I go in and have a topic like a sermon and talk about it each week,” he said. “At times like on Christmas, the theme would be the birth of Christ. What I am really trying to do is to change people’s lives through Jesus. I’m not beating them on the head with The Bible. But, I am talking about The Bible and that is something that gives them hope. It’s good for me and for them. I certainly shudder to think how I would feel in their circumstances.”

Hughes has been working in the jail going on two years now. He was inspired by the work of Chuck Colson – who was jailed as part of the Nixon Watergate scandal. Colson, himself inspired, set up the prison experience for inmates. Hughes was moved by Colson’s mission and that led him to his work at Guilford County Jail.

“My wife and I just decided that if things were going to be good for us, then we had to make some changes,” Hughes said of rededication to his religion. “We both were raised in the church and weren’t living up to our raising. We think that marriage is in trouble in this country. Without a Godly-centered life, there are no chances for (the institution of marriage and family).”

Today, Hughes admits that though his life is as busy as always, more so maybe, he does keep an eye on Pirate football.

“I do follow ECU and celebrate the successes almost to the verge of being obnoxious,” he laughed.

“Of course, I keep a low profile when we aren’t doing so well.”

And though he doesn’t get over to Greenville that much these days, he still feels connected.

“I don’t get to go down a much as I probably should or could, because typically, since our business was world-wide and very busy in the fall, it just wasn’t (a good time). I am lucky to get down there once a year,” Hughes explained. “But, as far as (his former teammates) go, I have always felt close to all of them, no matter how much time has passed by. John Schwarz lives in Greensboro and I see him three or four times a week. You know, we lost George Wheeler this year to cancer and Wayne (Lineberry) is fighting it now. I was there at when Henry (VanSant) retired…we were all there for that and that was wonderful.”

Still, though he has not been able to get to Greenville much since he left in 1968, Hughes has invested his emotions in recent Pirates teams.

“Two of my greatest memories were when we beat N.C. State in the Peach Bowl in 1991,” he said. “We let the bubble out on that for many years. And, of course the Charlotte game (against N.C. State). We’ve got a lot of State and UNC people out here and I like to get to them when I can, so those games were a good time.”

And Hughes has some opinions on the recent Pirates programs.

“I never really got to know Steve Logan during his years there,” Hughes said. “I met him and had been in the locker room at games, but it was kind of hard to know him. (Thompson) has good credentials coming out of Florida, but what I am concerned with is that it is going to get tougher and tougher with this conferencing thing. If you don’t align yourself within a conference with competition that you can see, smell and taste, and if your conference isn’t recognized by the BCS, then you’re losing.

"I don’t know where C-USA is going to go. There are no big rivalries happening with Rice, Tulsa, Houston and all the western teams. You just can’t get all fired up for those games, like you can for local stuff. I don’t know. Sometimes, I’ve even had thoughts that it might be better being king of the hill in the Southern Conference. I don’t think we should go independent again, but we need to have a meaningful conference affiliation.”

Perhaps with his new found retirement, Hughes will have more opportunities to catch his Pirates as they work through their current state. That would probably be the topper for this former Pirates star.

“I had a back problem for a number of years and finally got to the Nautilus gym and finally got back to some golf,” he said. “I have seven acres to tend to and several church committees. You hear people who are retired say, ‘I don’t how I had time to even work.’ All I can say is that this has been one of the greatest – if not the greatest – years of my life. Not having to punch the clock – so to speak – I’m getting a lot done.”

Making progress all the time… just as he did as a Pirate, so many years ago.

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Neal Hughes





Baseball (senior year)


Years at ECU:





Asheboro, NC

Currently Resides:

Randleman, NC

College Curriculum:

Geography, East Carolina University


Retired, Managing Partner and Owner of Elastic Therapy Incorporated, a medical devices company

Marital Status/Spouse:

Married/ Tammie




“During freshman ball, I remember one time that Henry VanSant challenged my manhood. It was half-time of a game and he pulled me aside and he got that look in his eye that you just didn’t want to see. He said I was turning tail. After that, I found that additional courage. After the ballgame, coach told me that I showed him something. That meant a lot to me.”


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