TCU's Hughes takes top honor

It's official: TCU's Jerry Hughes is the nation's top defensive end, hands down.

The man for whom the award is named, college and pro football Hall-of-Famer Ted Hendricks, called Hughes personally Tuesday night to tell him that he had dominated the field of finalists just as he had the offensive tackles he battled all season.

The two-time All-American received nearly 60 percent of the votes cast in the final round of balloting.

Just look at the names Hughes beat and the predominant conference in which they play: Jeremy Beal (Oklahoma), Sergio Kindle (Texas), Von Miller (Texas A&M), as well as Michigan's Brandon Graham, Georgia Tech's Derrick Morgan and Pittsburgh's Greg Romelus.

The Ted Hendricks Award will be presented to Hughes on March 21 at the Doral Golf Resort in Miami, Fla.

"It's a huge credit to Jerry that he emerged with the overwhelming majority

of the vote," Hendricks said in a statement released by TCU.

Just the third two-time finalist for the award, Hughes anchors the nation's top-ranked defense. He has 15 tackles for loss, including 11 1/2 sacks, among a career-high 54 tackles.

A senior from Sugar Land, Texas, Hughes is a two-time finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, honoring the nation's top defensive player. He is also a finalist for the Rotary Lombardi Award, Lott Trophy and Lowe's Senior CLASS Award.

His travel intinerary proves it. He'll be celebrating at announcement ceremonies this week in Charlotte, N.C., Houston and Newport Beach, Calif.

"Jerry Hughes has been a consistently outstanding performer in his four-year career at TCU," Hendricks said. "I have enjoyed watching him become one of the top defensive ends in the nation. It has been a rare occurrence that our voting process has included as many as seven finalists."