Every Tuesday over the summer, we’re going to highlight individual players on the 2012-13 Syracuse football team. This week, we feature offensive lineman Justin Pugh.
Syracuse coach Doug Marrone’s job will be even more difficult this fall with the uncertainty of the return of Justin Pugh.
The All Big East tackle suffered a shoulder injury during spring practice and missed the spring game. He also has been sidelined for all of preseason camp.
“I really feel that Justin Pugh is one of the best left tackles in the Northeast,” Marrone said. “I can’t say for the country because I haven’t seen everyone in the country, but I have seen a lot of teams play in this Northeast region. He’s an outstanding football player.”
He’s got the accolades to back Marrone’s statement.
Pugh has started 25 games for the Orange over the past two years and was a First Team All Big East selection last season. He’s also on the watch list for the 2012 Outland Trophy, awarded annually to college football’s top interior lineman.
But it will be difficult for Pugh to compete with that award if he doesn’t get on the field. During Big East Media Day, Pugh was optimistic about an early return.
“I feel good. I feel like I could play right now, but that’s not up to me,” Pugh said. “That’s up to the guys who are professionals in this field.”
Those professionals will reevaluate Pugh in the coming days, with an aim toward Pugh suiting up for Syracuse’s opener against Northwestern at the Carrier Dome.
“My goal is not to miss any games,” Pugh said. “That would be the best situation for me.”
Inside Slant: When healthy, Pugh is one of the top interior linemen in the Big East. The question will be when Pugh finally gets on the field. Though he was optimistic about an early return, Marrone was more conservative in his estimate. “We really don’t have an exact date yet (for his return), but we know it’s not going to be for the preseason,” Marrone said.
Career Highlights: As a junior, Pugh was an All-Big East First Team selection, while starting all 12 games. In his career, he has blocked for 1,000-yard rushers Antwon Bailey and Delone Carter.Wesley Cheng