Orange offensive tackle Justin Pugh declared for the 2013 NFL draft, forgoing his final year of college, Syracuse announced Thursday night.
“Coach Marrone and Coach Adkins have been great throughout my career, including through this process,” Pugh said in a release. “I wanted to be honest with everyone as I made this decision and they were the same with me. My Syracuse career was the best four years of my life. My teammates, coaches, the staff and the fans have been great. I would not change anything about my decision to attend Syracuse or my career. I am so happy I came to Syracuse University. I will always be active in the Orange football program and the Syracuse community. I love the Orange. Go ‘Cuse.”
Pugh was named to the 2011 and 2012 All Big East First Team, and started every game he played at SU. In his three seasons at Syracuse, he blocked for three different 1,000 yard rushers: Delone Carter, Antwon Bailey and Jerome Smith. He was a key part of Syracuse’s 38-14 win over the West Virginia Mountaineers in the Pinstripe Bowl.
“I’m not going to talk about anything to do with the NFL, so don’t even ask me,” Pugh said after the Pinstripe win. “I just want to celebrate this one now, and celebrate with my teammates.”
Pugh was in Syracuse coach Doug Marrone’s first recruiting class that saw the turnaround from one of the program’s darkest eras to a program that has now restored its national credibility. He is projected as high as a second round pick.
“Justin is a big part of this program turning the corner,” Marrone said. “He came in with us four years ago and gave us everything he had. We are proud of him for earning his degree and for what he has accomplished on the field as a leader of this team. He has earned it. I believe he will be very successful at the next level and in everything he does outside of football. Justin will always be part of the Orange football family.”