Perhaps the biggest surprise of Arkansas’ football camp so far has been the ascension of true freshman Ryan Pulley to second-team cornerback.
Pulley (5-11, 210), who shined at Cape Coral, Fla., Island Coast, has locked onto the task at hand from day one on and hasn’t go.
“I spent a lot of time working on the position even before I arrived here,” Pulley said. “This is my fourth year to play the cornerback position and I am very confident in my ability to do so.
“I got here, adapted well, got in the playbook and I am good to go.”
Pulley, who chose Arkansas over Michigan State, Louisville, Arizona, Indiana and others, believes that he has some attributes that have helped him out early.
“I have long arms, I have good ball skills, I am strong and aggressive and I feel like I have the ability to take out a number one receiver,” Pulley said. “I have confidence and I play with confidence.”
Razorback defensive coordinator Robb Smith has been pleased with his rookie cornerback.
“I'll tell you we have high expectations and standards for everybody,” Smith said. “He's striving to meet those right now. He's worked extremely hard.
“The thing he's kind of impressed the coaches with is how quickly he's picked up our system. He's a physical corner. He loves playing the game. Those guys usually trend well on this defense.”
Arkansas secondary coach Clay Jennings has the same vibe about Pulley.
“We are excited about him,” Jennings said. “He does not shy away from any contact. He didn’t flinch.
“The one thing we have to do with Ryan is make sure he continues to grow within the package and that he understands the level of consistency that we are looking for so he can be able to help us.”
Pulley said Jennings bring a nice mix to the position room.
“With Coach Jennings in the meeting room we talk about life first and then we get down to business and know it is time to work.”
Pulley has taken some kidding from his coaches – especially Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema and teammates for his look and his walk.
“I call him old man,” Bielema said. “Nothing against older men, but he walks with this gait that looks like he is 50 years old.
“He is kind of a surprising kid. He is really sudden. I got on him early in the practice area because he didn’t know how to practice like we wanted…They woke him up and he has just made play after player after play.
“He has a guy that has jumped out here from day one in the summer in phase two…The guys commented right away. He’s got those long arms, he’s very quick and aggressive and has a great feel for the ball.
“He’s really fun to be around. I would be very shocked if he doesn’t play a lot of football for us early.”
Pulley is fond of his coach’s humor.
“Coach B is a funny guy and a good guy to be around,” Pulley said. “I like him a lot. A lot of people have told me I look like an old man.”
Pulley feels like he is getting better in practice every day.
“We play in the SEC and so I am going to see a lot of great receivers and I am seeing a lot of them in practice right now,” Pulley said. “I go against Keon Hatcher and Duwop (Damon Mitchell) every day and that is making me better.”
Pulley’s attention to detail is another factor that has allowed him to rise up the depth chart.
“We have this thing called Hoganese and all of the older corners got in my head and said if you want to play, you have got to get in the playbook and get the terms down and learn everything you can. They know I can helps us win.”
He chose Arkansas in part because of the number of Florida players already on the team. “They were a lot of people from Florida already on this team and when I came on my official visit I met with all the Florida cats,” Pulley said. “They really related to me how things are here and I really liked being around all the players.
“I really liked all the coaches, especially Coach Jennings, who is just an excellent person as well as an excellent coach. Coach Smith is the same way.”
Ryan Pulley at his locker on Sunday with his playbook close by.
Pulley's Quickly Earning His Place
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