Pugh declares for NFL draft

Offensive lineman Justin Pugh decided Thursday to forgo his last year at Syracuse University and declare for the NFL draft in April.

Syracuse University football lost another key offensive player Thursday, as standout offensive lineman Justin Pugh declared via his Twitter account that he has decided to declare for the 2013 NFL draft with one year of eligibility left.

"Coach Marrone and Coach Adkins have been great throughout my career, including through this process," Pugh said in a press 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, who has played for the Orange for three seasons, was a staple in the SU offensive line. After missing a portion of the season due to injury, Pugh anchored an offensive line that paved the wave for a back field that average 187 yards on the ground and helped Jerome Smith to rush for 1,000 yard seasons. 

"Justin is a big part of this program turning the corner," SU head coach 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."

Many of Pugh’s current and former teammates, including Chandler Jones, who declared for the NFL draft a year early last season, supported Pugh’s decision via Twitter.

Going into the draft, Pugh ranks highly among offensive lineman, possibly as going as early as the second round. 



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