Gabriel Pugh grew up an Alabama fan. He would often attend Alabama’s home football games and get caught up in the pageantry and tradition of an Alabama Fall Saturday. As the Tide battled their opponents on the fields of Bryant-Denny Stadium; Pugh had his own set of obstacles he had to battle.
“Growing up, other kids would often say that I was fat and not athletic and that I would never make it anywhere,” Pugh said. “I would be angry at them for all the years that they made fun of me and made me feel bad about myself, but without them, I would have never pursued this dream.”
Pugh’s journey to his dream was filled with hard work and tough moments. He was encouraged to move to long snapper in middle school and at that time he was not very good at it. He reached out to several collegiate snappers and learn the basics of long snapping through the process.
Once he made the Northridge High School football team, playing time was scarce. He wanted to get on the field in any way that he could and contribute. This made him dive deeper into the position of long snapper in an attempt to see the field more.
“I tried out for long snapper and I had the basics down enough to where coach gave me a shot to compete,” Pugh said. “Eventually, I worked and found out how all the mechanics worked and I won the job. I have been snapping every since.”
Pugh was not okay with being an average long snapper. He wanted to be the best and perfect his technique as he visited several camps. With the help of the national lead long snapping coach for Kohl’s Snapping Camps, Casey Casper, Pugh was able to perfect his game. Rubio of Rubiolongsnapping gave him the exposure he needed.
“Between camps, it was just a lot of hard work,” Pugh Said. ” I was snapping in the park in my neighborhood to my dad and eventually to a metal target because my dad’s hands started hurting.”
Purdue was the first division one program to offer a preferred walk-on offer to Pugh and Mississippi State and Michigan followed suit. The Tide knew they could not miss out on Pugh, when he is right in their backyard. A call from Alabama’s special team assistant, Brendan Farell, on Tuesday prove that.
“He told me that before everything got tangled up with the playoff game and hopefully the national championship that he was going to offer me a PWO,” Pugh said.
Alabama has two verbal commits from walk-ons in the 2019 recruiting class and Pugh could be number three as he plans to take a visit soon.
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Justin Smith is a Scouting/Recruiting analyst for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter, via @Jdsmith31Smith