Three months later, Pugh rebounded from an NFL Combine snub to wow scouts at his Pro Day. He ran a 4.44 in the 40-yard dash and posted a 40-inch vertical jump, numbers that would have put him at the top of his position had he gone to Indy.
Approximately one month after that impressive showing came the NFL Draft.
Safety Jordan Pugh
David J. Phillip/AP
Pugh loves the NFL experience so far. It's a lot for any rookie to take in, but he's more prepared than most of his peers. Texas A&M regularly sends players to the NFL and some of those players come back to the school to provide advice to youngsters like Pugh.
Additionally, Pugh can get counsel from RB Mike Goodson, whom the Panthers picked from Texas A&M with their fourth-round pick in the 2009 NFL Draft.
"I have friends of mine that have been in the league and they have kind of just told me things to look out for, things to do, how to be successful, etc. I just take that and I eat it up. I'm living my dream and they have already been where I want to go, so I just take what they give me and use it to grow," he said.
Texas A&M alumni aren't the only ones hastening Pugh's development. He's also learned on some of Carolina's veterans.
"Guys like Charles Godfrey and C.J. Wilson have really been a big help for me, just learning how things are done in Carolina and learning how to understand plays, how to understand schemes and different things like that. These guys have really helped," he said.
Despite the winning combination of skill, support and sheer want-to, Pugh still has a lot to work on. He says his main focus over the coming months will be improving mentally and technically. He notes that every player in the league has athletic ability, so it will be his mental preparations that cause him to succeed or fail.
Pugh believes that, because of his training at Texas A&M, he is primed for success.
"With [defensive coordinator] Tim DeRuyter being there, you had that NFL experience in college, so there won't be a big adjustment for me moving on from Texas A&M to be with the Panthers," he said. "College got me prepared both mentally and physically because of the way we ran things there."
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