JACKSONVILLE – The 2012 South Division Champion Jacksonville Sharks announced Thursday that wide receiver/kick returner Jeff Hughley has been placed on the Arena Football League’s “Other League Exempt” list. Hughley has signed a contract with the National Football League’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“This is an outstanding opportunity for Jeff, and is the result of hard work and dedication to his craft,” Sharks head coach Les Moss said. “A player with Jeff’s unique combination of talent and desire is always tough to replace, and we wish him nothing but the best of luck in Tampa.”
The 29-year-old Hughley was off to a stellar start through the first six games of the 2013 AFL season, leading the Sharks with 47 receptions for a team-high total of 516 receiving yards. Hughley caught a pair of touchdowns in each of the Sharks’ first four games, ranking third on the team with nine touchdown catches overall. He caught a season-high 13 passes for 146 yards and two scores in the Sharks’ season-opening win against the Tampa Bay Storm, and scored four total touchdowns in Week 3 against Cleveland.
A threat on special teams as well, Hughley served as the Sharks’ primary kick returner, totaling 557 yards on 28 runbacks. He also returned two missed field goals for a total of 79 yards, notching the first missed field goal return touchdown in Jacksonville franchise history in the team’s Week 4 win over the New Orleans VooDoo. Hughley was selected as the J. Lewis Small Playmaker of the Week for Week 4, and that missed field goal return earned him a nod as the AFL Playmaker of the Week as well. Hughley departs raking second in the league in all-purpose yards, averaging 192.5 yards per contest.
Hughley is in his fourth season in the Arena Football League, returning to Jacksonville after spending 2012 with the Philadelphia Soul. He was originally assigned to the Jacksonville roster on a three-year contract in October of 2012. The reigning Ironman of the Year, Hughley was a major part of the Sharks’ run to the ArenaBowl XXIV title in 2011, earning a spot on the All-Ironman team that year as well.
Before joining the Sharks, Hughley made his AFL debut with the Tulsa Talons in 2010, catching 113 passes for 1,258 yards and 28 touchdowns. He also notched four rushing touchdowns and returned a pair of kickoffs for scores. Hughley also spent time with the Talons when the team was a member of af2, earning af2 Ironman of the Year honors in 2009. Hughley played collegiate football at Averett University.
The Sharks will retain Hughley’s AFL rights during his tenure with the Buccaneers. Following the day’s transaction, the Jacksonville roster stands at 23 active players, one below the Arena Football League maximum.