HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Nick Rolovich has shown – time and time again – that he's one of the most creative showmen in college football. On Wednesday night, the Rainbow Warriors head coach may have topped any idea he's had thus far.
Walk-on quarterback Hunter Hughes was awarded with a full athletic scholarship inside the ring at a WWE event in Honolulu – with help from the wrestling trio New Day.
"I never thought it would be me," said Hughes, following practice on Thursday morning. "I'm still trying to figure out what exactly happened. I woke up for practice today kind of wondering if it was a dream. Never really thought this day would come. Never had the hope for it."
Rolovich says that when it came to deciding who would receive his most creative scholarship surprise yet, the team's recent loss to UCLA was a factor.
In a time when the team was down, he wanted to award that special envelope to someone who embodied what it meant to be a Warrior... And someone who could lead Hawaii through tough times.
"I was thinking about this the other day," said Rolovich. "[Hughes] is everything we stand for as far as 'living aloha.' I thought at a time when we didn't play our best, and really when times looked bad against UCLA, it's time to kind of center back to what got us to this point."
"I just thought he exhibits all those qualities that we want," he added.
Hughes character has earned him honors within the team before. Despite the lack of playing time he's expected to see this season, the senior was selected to the team's leadership council this year – a position that Rolovich says is a direct reflection of the qualities he brings to the locker room.
The Illinois-native says being recognized for "living aloha" has a special meaning to him because he takes great pride in representing a state that he currently calls home.
"For me, not being from here and being giving the opportunity to wear the 'H' whereever I go, I take a lot of pride in that," said Hughes. "I think I take more pride too as a walk-on, I earned it. I earned it coming out here. I have some of my best friends and family out here now. So when ever I take the field for us with that 'H' on my helmet I think about them."