Charleston Hughes is making a splash. In his first game in Saskatchewan the veteran defensive end made his presence felt, recording 3 sacks including his career 100th quarterback take-down.
It may take some adjusting to for long term CFL fans to see Hughes in Rider green after a decade of seeing him with the Calgary Stampeders. Back in February Hughes was traded to Hamilton only to be traded again later that day to the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
It is often said that there is no sentiment in professional sport. This was surely a case in point. For the Stamps, the decision to move Hughes was based on salary-cap considerations. Ja’Gared Davis and Cordarro Law were also available at the same position and crucially with the cap consideration in mind the 34-year-old Hughes was due a big salary in 2018.
In his time with the Stamps Hughes has appeared in five Grey Cups — 2008, 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2017 — and won two (2008 & 2014). He is a four-time CFL All-Star and six-time division All-Star. He was also named the West Divisions’ Most Outstanding Player in 2013. As a Stampeder Hughes recorded 99 sacks, 372 defensive tackles, 38 special-teams tackles, three interceptions, 23 forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries and scored one touchdown. Even last year he was effective, registering 11 quarterback sacks & receiving his latest CFL All-Star nod.
It would appear he still had something to offer, but the Stamps were moving on. They needed to re-model their roster & this move was a part of that. The sentiment part? At of the end of the 2017 season Hughes’ 99 sacks tied him with Will Johnson, (who was with Calgary from 1989-1996), for the most sacks in Stampeders franchise history. One lone sack away from holding the record alone and Calgary cut him loose. He may well be pretty motivated going into 2018.
Perhaps the eventual landing in Saskatchewan will prove somewhat serendipitous for Hughes. Now he will find himself paired up with 2015 Grey Cup winner and fellow 2017 CFL All-Star Willie Jefferson.
Hughes and Jefferson played together for the first time in Saskatchewan’s 27-19 season opening win against the Toronto Argonauts at Mosaic Stadium. It went well. Hughes recorded 3 sacks and 4 QB pressures and Jefferson noted on Riderville.com, “It’s what they said, man: The hype is real….I came out and I did what I do and he played off me and did what he does.” Jefferson added 2 QB pressures and a knockdown to Hughes’ stats.
Of course it’s way too early to predict what will happen over the course of a long 18 game season but Riders fans will already be dreaming big about the damage their D can do though. Their whole line caused problems for Rick Ray & the Argos through much of the game registering multiple QB pressures. Hughes was no small part of that.
Hughes 100th CFL career sack may not have made him Calgary’s all-time sack leader but it does put him in some pretty good company. He has became the 11th player in CFL history to reach 100 sacks.
Players who have recorded 100+ sacks in the CFL:
- Grover Covington – 157 sacks (168 games played)
- Elfrid Payton – 153 sacks (205 games played)
- Bobby Jurasin – 140 sacks (199 games played)
- James Parker – 139.5 sacks (161 games played)
- Joe Montford – 135 sacks (185 games played)
- Vince Goldsmith – 130.5 sacks in (163 games played)
- Steward Hill – 126 sacks (164 games played)
- John Bowman – 121 sacks (201 games played)
- Tyrone Jones – 110 sacks (151 games played)
- Rodney Harding – 105 sacks (201 games played)
- Charleston Hughes– 102 sacks (148 games played)
Of the players listed only Hughes and John Bowman are currently active in the CFL. Will he add a few more this season? If Hughes feels has a point prove, that Calgary let the wrong man go, then I wouldn’t bet against it!
Image from Reiderville.com