While at Council Rock South High, Justin Pugh received little attention from Division I-A football coaches. In fact, Syracuse was the only top-level program to offer him a scholarship.
Now, after a rock-solid career with the Orangemen, Pugh, a 6-foot-4, 310-pound left tackle from Holland, Bucks County, is bound for the NFL. Thursday night, he was selected with the No. 19 overall pick in the draft by the New York Giants.
"This whole thing has been surreal," the first-team all-Big East performer said Thursday afternoon. "I never thought in high school that I would be in this position today. I was just trying to use football to get a college education."
Pugh, a three-year starter at Syracuse, has been touted for his movement, athleticism, and versatility. With an arm length of 32 inches, he may end up switching to guard.
"I'm really planning on being able to play all five offensive-line positions," said the 22-year-old, who had one year of eligibility remaining at Syracuse. "I want to be prepared to fill any spot."
When did Pugh begin to realize his early-round draft potential? "Probably last year," he said. "People started contacting me pretty regularly and it took off from there. It's been pretty wild."
While at C.R. South, Pugh said his other scholarship offers came from a pair of Division I-AA schools: Villanova and New Hampshire.
In 2008, his senior season with the Golden Hawks, he was an Inquirer second-team all-Southeastern Pennsylvania selection on defense.
Pugh completed his requirements for a degree in finance in 3 1/2 years.