Pugh and Pals Getting Head Start

Auburn signee Ryan Pugh talks about moving to Auburn and getting his career as a Tiger underway.

Auburn, Ala.--Summer is supposed to be a time of relaxation for high school seniors as they prepare for the next chapter of their lives as college students. That's not the case however for the ones headed to play college football. Summer is a time for working hard to get in the best shape possible to try to work into the playing rotation as a true freshman.

Because of that, players have started reporting earlier and earlier to college campuses and Auburn is no different. Saturday the trucks were rolling into town as many of Auburn's signees started moving to campus to get ready for a summer of workouts with Coach Kevin Yoxall.

One of those players is center Ryan Pugh. A U.S. Army All-American last season out of Hoover High, Pugh is part of perhaps the top offensive line class in the country that includes Mississippi All-Star Chaz Ramsey, Alabama All-Star Jared Cooper, Arkansas Player of the Year Lee Ziemba, and Kyle Coulahan. Pugh says that he can't wait to get started in Auburn and he's ready for it to happen.

"I'm kind of excited and a little anxious," Pugh says. "It's the beginning of a new challenge. You have to step up and see what's in front of you. I'm really excited as are all the guys I'm rooming with. It's a sense of excitement more than anything. It kind of outweighs the rest."

Pugh was voted a team captain in San Antonio in January at the U.S. Army game.

Last season was different than any other in Auburn history in terms of recruiting as the Tigers got earlier commitments than normal. AU built on that to have a Top 10 rated class. Those early commitments became extra recruiters for the Tigers as many joined together to form friendships that have grown over the last year. Now Pugh, Ramsey, Coulahan, Lee Ziemba and Bailey Woods have all decided to move in together and got started with that process in Auburn over the weekend.

Pugh says that the relationships they've already built with each other will only help not only off the field, but off as each adjusts to life in the SEC.

"It is just that type of bond you've got to form to be good," Pugh says. "It's that family atmosphere you want to create amongst the team. I think it's definitely an advantage that we've been able to do this before we even get down there. We already know each other before we get there and we can hit the ground running. It's a good group of guys and we all enjoy hanging out together and playing football. I think it's going to be fun."

While four of the guys got a chance to start Friday night and early Saturday, Ramsey was in Mobile playing in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic before heading to Auburn on Sunday. Pugh was one of the players invited to play in the game, but decided against it. He says it was tough to turn the invitation down, but in the end he felt it was the right move for him.

"I obviously wished I was playing, but at the same time I had to look at it and think what was the best for myself and what was best for Auburn University," Pugh says. "If I go down there having not played football for six months and get down there and hurt an ankle or tweak a knee, that keeps me from getting ready for Auburn."

Instead of getting ready for the game in Mobile, Pugh says he has instead concentrated on the workout sent to him by Auburn after he signed with the Tigers. An athlete who played left tackle for the Bucs last season and center in the all-star game in San Antonio, Pugh says he's concentrated on becoming a more physical player as he gets ready to move back to the middle of the offense at Auburn.

"I'm still around 6-3 and 280," he says. "I just wanted to stay around that area. I didn't want to get too big and I didn't want to get small. I didn't want to do much, I just wanted to get stronger. I think I did that.

"I have been working out and running every day," he adds. "There is not a day off. There are questions about how hard it's going to be. It's going to take a toll on your body. I just figured that if I did everything they sent me and then did a little more than it wouldn't hurt.

"I think getting ready this spring has been good for me and all the guys I've talked to. Everyone seems to be sticking to the program and getting better every day working hard in the weight room and running. It's something I have enjoyed doing getting ready to get down there."

With Jason Bosley returning with starting experience from last season after he took over for Joe Cope in four games, the chances that Pugh wins the starting job as a true freshman look like a longshot. However, don't tell that to Pugh, who says he's going in with the mindset that he can earn the spot if he performs well enough during two-a-day practices.

"I think I have my goals set a little higher than most people probably would as a freshman because of the opportunity I have once I get down there," Pugh says. "I think it's something where you need to have time to get acclimated and to get ready for practice starting in August."

2007 Auburn Football Guide

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