Road ahead looks bright for Jacob Pugh

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- ESPN 150 outside linebacker Jacob Pugh (Tallahassee, Fla./Godby) has aspirations to play in the NFL, just like many players his age. Regardless of where his football career takes him, this 6-foot-4, 220-pound athlete has another dream that he plans to fulfill.

"I want to own my own trucking company," Pugh said. "For one, my uncle had a trucking business for a long time. A couple people that go to my church are truck drivers. They just talk to me about what they do and it seems fun and interesting. It's something I'd really like to do.

"Every school I've been to, they ask me what I [want to] major in. They show me their business department and tell me some good stuff about their business schools. Every school I go to, their business school is ranked highly in something."

With his success on the field, the Under Armour All-American can study business at just about any school he chooses. But Pugh has narrowed down his list of schools to three, in no particular order.

"I have a top three of Florida, Florida State and Alabama," Pugh said. "Me and coach [Brian] Williams and coach [Ronnie] Cottrell talked and they gave me some good advice on schools and we went and visited those schools."

Pugh, who is related to former Florida linebacker Darren Hambrick, said he likes how Florida would use him in their defense.

"I really like coach [Will] Muschamp a lot," Pugh said. "It's actually a nice place with a good football team that's in the SEC, and they have a great business program. They are recruiting me at, like, that hybrid position -- the outside linebacker/rush the passer.

"I've been playing a position like that since middle school, so I'm kind of used to standing up and coming off the edge, or dropping down in a three-point stance and dropping back in coverage. My mom visited Florida with me and she really liked it. She's a big Florida fan."

The No. 104-ranked player in the country grew up just north of Tampa but moved to the Tallahassee area three years ago. Pugh said he has developed a good relationship with FSU defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.

"In the spring when [FSU was] having spring ball, I went up there and I mingled with the coaches and got to know the coaches a lot," he said. "They are like a family -- they treat all their players good. Everybody there is going to get their education.

"[Coach Pruitt] seems like a family person. He's a good guy. I talk to him a lot -- call him on the phone and talk to him. He doesn't pressure me to come to FSU. He just tells me to go look at all my options. He tells me if FSU is the best place for me, then he hopes I come. He doesn't pressure me at all, though."

For Alabama, it’s sustained success that appeals to Pugh.

"They have a lot to offer," he said. "Nick Saban, for one -- it's Alabama, the national championship team. It's a nice place up there in Tuscaloosa. Not many bad things I can say about them."

Pugh plans to make his college decision in the near future.

"I know anywhere I'm going to go, I'm going to get my education," Pugh said. "I really want to play, though. I really want to play as a true freshman, and I want to start wherever I go. I have an idea of where I want to go. I'll talk more with my family and my coaches before I finally do it, but it will be after spring sometime."

Starting as a freshman is no easy task, especially at Pugh’s three finalist schools. Godby defensive coordinator Brian Williams, however, thinks Pugh understands what it takes to make that transition to the next level.

"He has tremendous ability, obviously," Williams said. "What he's gotten better at is applying the techniques and fundamentals he has learned."

Pugh spends a lot of extra time doing the little things to master his craft and doesn't take his ability for granted. When he says he wants to play as a freshman, he understands the process that entails.

"I think in my experience in coaching high school ball that the recruiting process can take a guy's mindset in the wrong direction," Williams said. "I think this has actually helped him. He's gone and seen things that when he's looking at it, he's like, 'This is what I need to do to be successful here.' It's not really about who can flatter me the most."

Whether it's starting his own trucking business or playing on Sundays, Pugh appears to be on the road to success.