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Chris Pugh begins his second year as a walk-on wide receiver at The University of Alabama. The former Lawrence County High star athlete passed up scholarships at other schools to play for the Tide.
Daily photo by John Godbey
Chris Pugh begins his second year as a walk-on wide receiver at The University of Alabama. The former Lawrence County High star athlete passed up scholarships at other schools to play for the Tide.

Fulfilling a dream
Moulton's Pugh enters 2nd
year as Tide walk-on

By Josh Cooper
jcooper@decaturdaily.com 340-2460

It was Oct 28, 2006. Alabama was playing Florida International, and for former Lawrence County High standout, and Alabama freshman walk-on wide receiver Chris Pugh, it was an opportunity.

A chance to hear the sounds of the band, run through the tunnel and gallop onto the Bryant-Denny Stadium sod with the rest of the team.

A lifelong Alabama fan, it was the only regular-season game Pugh dressed for — he also dressed for the Independence Bowl — and it was a crowning moment for him and his family during the 2006 season.

After the rigors of his first season at the school — dealing with classes, football and new coaches — Pugh says he will come back to play this season.

"I guess the main thing is, it has always been my dream to play at Alabama," Pugh said. "I just keep realizing what a great opportunity I do have. I need to make sure I take hold of it."

Lightly recruited in high school where he caught 40 passes for 753 yards and six touchdowns and had 59 tackles and five interceptions as a defensive back as a senior, Pugh passed up a chance to play football at The University of North Alabama and baseball at Alabama-Birmingham. UAB also offered Pugh an academic scholarship.

When Pugh informed Lawrence County coach Ernie Ferguson that he wanted to go to Alabama, Ferguson called up then-defensive backs coach Chris Ball about Pugh's chances of walking on.

When Ball gave Ferguson a positive reply, Ferguson informed Pugh that he would have his opportunity during preseason practice.

"It has always come back to Alabama," said Chris's father Mike. "We didn't want him to go to a school to get a scholarship."

After going through preseason practice, Pugh made the team as a walk-on at wide receiver.

And while he was afforded the dream of donning the dark red jersey, he had to work for it more than others on the team.

Unlike scholarship athletes, walk-ons do not have certain creature comforts like academic tutors to help when school work gets overwhelming.

So Pugh went back to a system he used in high school of studying a little bit for exams each night and taking notes.

That way when the tests came, he didn't have to pull an all-night cram session.

According to his father, Pugh received straight A's last year.

"He does work very hard in football, and it takes a lot of studying to make good grades," Mike said.

"We are proud of him"

Whether Chris will play this year is up to the new coaching staff.

While Mike said that he and his family are "indebted" to former coach Mike Shula, they all feel the buzz around new coach Nick Saban.

Though Chris will be taking a tough course load — he is enrolled in biology, health, computer science and literature — the exercise and sports science major feels ready to make another run at playing.

He says: "If I keep doing the same thing, then maybe something will open up."

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