Making His Mark

With so many young players in the mix on both offense and defense, some Mountaineer fans may not be aware that they are playing just as big a role on special teams. In addition to freshman place kicker Pat McAfee, a few other Mountaineer freshmen are contributing on the kickoff team. One of them is Charles Pugh.

The 6'1" 205 pound freshman from Edgewater High in Orlando got his Mountaineer career off to a great start by making the first tackle of the season on the opening kickoff at Syracuse.

"I was thinking that it would be great if I could make the first tackle of the season, you know? And then it actually went that way, so it was a good beginning. Hopefully it was the beginning of something great," said Pugh.

Pugh was a linebacker at Edgewater, but when he arrived in Morgantown he was unsure of the position he would be playing for the Mountaineers. Right now, he's found a home at bandit behind senior Mike Lorello, but is willing to do whatever it takes to help the Mountaineers win.

"I didn't know what to expect, because I didn't know what position they wanted me to play," he said. "They're making me feel at home now though in the bandit position, backing up Mike Lorello. I'm willing to take on any part they want me to for the team."

One very quick avenue onto the field for Pugh was by playing on special teams. Given the Mountaineers' troubles last season covering kicks and punts, the coaches were looking for players to fill the role. When Pugh got out on the practice field, he saw an opportunity and thus far has made the most of it.

"They told me that I probably would have a part on special teams early. They've got me on there, and I'm ready to make plays," said Pugh.

While it's great to make big hits and run all over the field, Pugh admits that he must remain disciplined enough during the coverage to not let the other team break a big play of their own.

"We definitely have assignments. I have to follow my assignments so I don't let my teammates down."

Playing as a true freshman certainly isn't a given in Division I-A college football. With so much new stuff to learn about not only football, but being part of a program, Pugh feels that being able to take part in summer school and summer conditioning played to his advantage before the season.

"The new rule that the NCAA put in let us come in a little bit early. That definitely benefited me because I came down here early and worked on my strength and conditioning, and got my speed up," he said.

There's no doubt that he'd like to be an impact player on defense by the time he's done in Morgantown. As a young player still learning the ins and outs of the West Virginia defense though, he knows he has to perform well on special teams to move his way up the ladder. Added pressure? Not exactly.

"I wouldn't say that it would put pressure on me, but I would say that my role is important," he said. "I take it very seriously, and I know that if I play well on special teams that I'll eventually have a role on defense and be on the field more."

Just two games into his college career, it's fair to say that he's having a lot of fun.

"Now I'm just excited. I'm ready to go out on that field every day. They like what I've done, and I'm willing to take it head on. It's a big experience, and I'm happy to be a part of it."

With a healthy attitude, a knack for making plays, and his best football undoubtedly ahead of him, it's safe to say that Charles Pugh has a bright future in the Blue and Gold.

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