By Joseph Santoliquito
Philadelphia, PA (CBS)—He went from a kid once called “Pugh-ney,” who despite his massive, 6-foot-4, 310-pound frame, carries a cherub’s babyface. Because of this, Justin Pugh opted to grow a beard.
Now he looks like a great bearded giant cherub. After the former Council Rock South and Syracuse star was taken 19th overall by the New York Giants in the first round of the NFL Draft Thursday night, it works.
Pugh, a stellar left offensive tackle at Syracuse, has the versatility to play any position on the offensive line for the Giants.
“I’m doing great, I’m doing great, it was surreal to get that phone call,” Pugh said. “I grew up rooting for the Eagles, but I’m a Giants guy now. I grew up right down the street, so I got to watch a lot of their football and to see a lot of their guys. You obviously have to appreciate the way the Giants play the game for the past few years. I’m excited to be a part of the organization, and New York is a great city, it’s not too far from home.
“Growing up an Eagles’ fan, this is a whole new era. Exactly, I’m reborn. I already told my older brothers that they have to burn all of their Eagles’ stuff in the house. I have two brothers and seven best friends. One of them as an Eagles’ tattoo on his chest and he’s going to need a few months to get over it.”
Pugh was sitting in his Holland, Bucks County home when the call came from 201 and Giants’ coach Tom Coughlin. The Giants were on the clock and Pugh broke out into a big smile. His mother began crying, and Justin’s pals dog piled on top of him.
“It was great,” Pugh said. “Coach Coughlin was the first one to call me. When we did the interview at the [NFL] Combine, coach Coughlin asked me who was the best player who ever played at Syracuse and I told him, ‘Coach Coughlin.’ That was the one that sealed the deal for me as soon as I said that. We’re a couple of Syracuse guys and I’m staying in state. They told me that I would come in and compete wherever they see fit. I’m just going to go in and do what I have to do, play hard-nosed football.”
In two weeks, Pugh reports to Giants’ minicamp.
Justin’s biological father passed away. He was raised his mother, Carolyn, and stepfather, Frank Gavaghan, who instilled in Pugh a wrought-iron work ethic.
“This is huge for my mom, she was crying, but she realizes now that she can come to every game and I’m so happy she’s going to be able to get there,” Pugh said. “She’s not losing her baby. I have the beard going right now, so I don’t have the babyface right now.”