Family Ties Run Deep For AU Recruit

Tony Pugh talks about the experience of watching son Ryan play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio.

Hoover, Ala.--When Ryan Pugh took part in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio earlier this month it was a chance for one of the country's top high school offensive line prospects to showcase his skills. It was also a chance for his father Tony to get one last chance to see his son play high school football before moving on to Auburn.

It was a special week for the Pugh family both on and off the field. On the field Ryan was named a team captain for the East squad after dominating opposition all week on the field and also setting an example of hard work and leadership while doing so. Tony says that the week was special enough for the family, but finding out his son was named a captain was something he'll never forget.

"We didn't know it until the day before the game at the pep rally," Pugh says. "We went to the pep rally and they said they were going to announce the East and West captains. His was the first name called. It was really special.

"It was emotional for me because I think you get elected for something like that because of how you work and perform during the week," he says. "I think, for me being a coach, seeing him elected like that is really special."

The Pugh family poses for a photo following the game. Ryan took his official visit to Auburn last weekend. The Tigers have no official visitors scheduled this weekend.

Each year the U.S. Army All-American Bowl is a special event not only because of the players on the field, but because of the fans in the stands. Many are Army soldiers from nearby Fort Sam Houston that get tickets to attend the game and take part in the festivities. Pugh says the week leading up to and the game was memorable for both Ryan and his family because of everything it represents and how things are run.

"It was really special," Pugh says. "We talked early about him really wanting to play in the game. The atmosphere that was associated all week with the game, they did an outstanding job putting the game on. The way they run the whole week of the game, it's just a great honor to play in something like that. There were 30,000 people in the stands and with all of the Army and military present, it was just something that we were honored to be a part of."

A first-year coach at Hoover High after moving over from Spain Park for the 2006 season, Tony Pugh has been the one constant in Ryan's football life as a coach. Moving from Oak Mountain to Spain Park to Hoover, Ryan has always had his father to coach him and to go to for advice about football and life in general. The U.S. Army game was the last chance for father and son to talk about a high school football game. Next season Ryan will be a freshman at Auburn and under the guidance of Hugh Nall for the Tigers. Tony says that while he's happy to know Ryan is in good hands it's going to be tough not having him around much anymore.

"It's going to be strange," Pugh says. "We've talked about it some. I think my wife probably hit it on the head better than anybody. She said that it's going to be tough on him going to college and this and that. She goes ‘I don't think so, I think it's going to be tougher on you.' She's probably right."

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