Wide Receiver/Outfield, 1989-1992
Hayden Fry took an in-home visit to convince Danan Hughes to become a Hawkeye. He made the trip up to Bayonne, New Jersey, sat in Hughes’ living room, and said all the right things.
“He came into my house, sat on my couch with his cowboy boots on – that was the first time I’d seen cowboy boots in person – with his Texas twang and wowed me and my parents,” Hughes said.
A big part of Fry’s pitch was a promise that Hughes would be able to play both football and baseball at the collegiate level. Most other recruiters would offer a similar promise, but at times that rang hollow.
“I know a lot of times in recruiting it’s about sales and selling a kid on your program,” Hughes said. “Sometimes there are guys that say things that aren’t necessarily true.
“Most of them, if not all of them said it was possible (to play both sports), but I believed Coach Fry more so than some others.”
Hughes said that baseball was his first love, and he always wanted to play the sport professionally. When he made his commitment to Iowa, the negotiations began between Fry and Duane Banks, the coach of the Hawkeye Baseball team at the time.
In 1998, during his first year on campus, Hughes would redshirt in both sports, and focus on football through the spring. After that, though, Fry laid down some ground rules.
First and foremost, Danan would need to meet his academic requirements and remain eligible. Second, Fry didn’t want to be sharing Hughes unless he was an every-day player for the baseball team.
Following his redshirt freshman season on the gridiron, he was a part of the Iowa Football spring game, hopped into a golf cart, and made it over to the baseball diamond for the second half of a double-header against Ohio State.
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Prior to his senior season, Hughes was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the third round of the ’92 MLB draft. He played in 33 games for the Helena Brewers that summer before returning to Iowa City for fall camp.
In four seasons as a starter for the Hawkeyes, Hughes set school receiving records with 2216 yards and 21 touchdowns. Those numbers currently rank fourth and second, respectively, in Iowa history.
After his ’92 senior season, Hughes broke his foot, but still played in the Hula Bowl. The injury, combined with a possible baseball career, scared some NFL teams away from Danan during the draft process.
He was chosen in the seventh round of the 1993 NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs. That year, the Chiefs roster had four future Hall of Famers – Joe Montana, Marcus Allen, Will Shields, and Derrick Brooks. One of the most memorable things about his time in Kansas City, though, was the atmosphere.
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“Going out in Arrowhead (Stadium) really felt like going out in Kinnick,” Hughes said. “We dominated like we dominated in college. It was a fun, fun time. A lot of quality players and quality men came through, and I was blessed to be a part of it.”
After the ’98 season, Hughes made the transition off the field, and began working in the banking industry, helping athletes and entertainers with their finances, mortgages in particular.
“You focus so much on your physical shape and keeping your job as a pro that you often hear the horror stories trusting their money to other people,” Hughes said. “It was an opportunity for me to really school the young men coming out of college, and even some of the veterans, on preparing yourself for what goes on off the field.”
Alongside his financial career, Hughes was honing his skills as a broadcaster, utilizing his degree from Iowa in broadcast communications. For several years during his NFL career, he hosted a weekly radio show, which led to a football analyst position for Kansas City-area high school sports, and since then it’s taken off. He’s one of the busiest men in broadcasting.
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Hughes said he does 8-10 Missouri Valley Conference football games each year, some Big Ten Network football coverage, a pre- and post-game show for the Kansas City Chiefs, Missouri Valley Conference basketball, and Big Ten baseball.
“I also coach a travel showcase baseball team in the summer,” Hughes added. “Fortunately, some of those are different seasons.”
Hughes was on hand in Bloomington, Ind. this summer to see the Hawkeye baseball team win the Big Ten Tournament Championship. That tournament win was its first championship of any kind since 1990, when Hughes and his teammates took home the regular-season crown.
Danan currently lives in Kansas City with his wife, Tiffani. He has five children, Jessicah, Joey, Taurin, Savvy, and Talyn, as well as three grandchildren. Even though he’s moved out of Iowa, Hughes said any time he makes a trip north, there’s one moment that always comes up.
“The one thing that never fails, if I go into the state of Iowa, never mind Iowa City, and somebody recognizes me or my name, they always bring up the snow angel I did against Minnesota in 1991,” he said. “I find that amazing, of all the crazy and silly stuff that I did, that stuck in a lot of people’s minds to this day.”