Auburn Commitment Finishes As The Champ

Ryan Pugh's quest to be a champion ends successfully.

Hoover, Ala.--After finishing as the state runnerup as a sophomore and being sidelined with a broken bone in his toe as a junior, Saturday's 6A state championship match was the last chance for Ryan Pugh to reach his goal of becoming the number one heavyweight wrestler in the state of Alabama.

With a victory in sudden death overtime against friend and former teammate, D.J. Looney of Oak Mountain High, Pugh reached his goal while competing for the Hoover High Bucs.

"It was an unbelievable feeling," the Auburn football commitment tells Inside the Auburn Tigers. "You wrestle for so long and then you finally get to win a state championship your senior year. It was really special."

Pugh's opponent in the championship match was somebody the Hoover offensive lineman knows quite well. "We wrestled together when I was a freshman at Oak Mountain," Pugh says of Looney. "Me and my dad talked to D.J. about coming out for wrestling and he decided to come out for the team his freshman year."

Pugh notes that he and Looney, a defensive lineman who committed to Mississippi State last summer, are good friends and says, "He is a great guy."

Winning the state title is a "big deal" personally, Pugh says. "I have been wrestling for a long time," he says. "I think this is my 12th year. I came up short previously. I had an injury (junior year) and I came in second as a sophomore so there is definitely a lot of satisfaction after all the hard work I had put into it."

Ryan Pugh is shown as a senior.

As a junior, Pugh was 39-1 going into the section wrestling tournament before suffering the toe injury. He bounced back from that and had a terrific senior year in his first football season at Hoover High, where he earned All-State and 6A Lineman of the Year honors.

He also was invited to play in the nation's top high school all-star game where he was a standout performer for the East squad at the U.S. Army All-American All-Star Game in San Antonio.

Pugh started at tackle as a senior for Hoover, but played center in the all-star game and projects as a center at Auburn.

Ryan Pugh blocks in the Class 6A state playoffs in Hoover's semi-finals victory over Vestavia Hills. The Bucs finished as the state football runnerup to Prattville.

The lineman says he plans to sign his Auburn scholarship papers on Wednesday at Hoover High. He is hoping that teammate Josh Chapman, a defensive lineman, joins him.

"Josh said he was going to decide on Tuesday where he is going," Pugh says. Chapman originally committed to Auburn, but decided to take an official visit to Alabama, his childhood favorite, and has not commented since then about where he is going to sign on Wednesday.

Pugh says that he has talked to Josh to encourage him to join him at Auburn, but notes, "We just have to let him make his own decision."

Inside The AU Tigers Top Stories