FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas cornerback Ryan Pulley may have a tough decision to make at the end of the 2017 season.
Does he stay at Arkansas for his senior campaign? Or does he leave early for the NFL? At least that’s the way coach Bret Bielema sees it.
“I think he’ll have a good junior year and maybe in January or December we’ll have something to talk about,” Bielema told reporters last Saturday. “If he continues to grow and play the way that he can, I think he’s going to be one of the premiere players on our team.”
Pulley made his first career start in Week 2 last season, a win at TCU, and never relinquished the job. He allowed just one of the 63 passes thrown his way to go for a touchdown. His 13 pass breakups ranked second in the SEC and No. 12 nationally.
SEC Country recently spoke with Pulley about his NFL prospects, the upcoming season and more. Here’s what he had to say.
Q: Bielema said he could see you being in a position to leave for the NFL after this season. Have you thought about that at all?
A: “I haven’t thought about it, honestly. I’m not thinking about stuff like that right now. I’m just looking to do whatever I do to have the defense and this team successful this year. But when that time comes, I’ll think about it. As of right now, I’m just moving on forward to be better for this year.”
Q: Does it surprise you he would say that?
A: “I don’t want to say I put on a big display, but with the little display I put on last year, I see guys starting to put that out there about me. But I feel like I haven’t proved nothing yet.”
Q: How do you keep that mentality to keep improving?
A: “With [defensive coordinator Paul] Rhoads, he tells us just to be great every day. He says don’t be scared to be great and that good is the enemy of great. So, don’t just be good and keep driving until you’re up there at the top.”
Q: You played well in the first start of your career at TCU last year and then had an exceptional season. What made you so ready for the moment when you got that start?
A: “When I came in my freshman year, I always thought I was the best. Every since high school I always thought I was that guy and wanted to be the best. So, when I came in and I wasn’t playing immediately, I was just thinking I knew I could do better. I kept that confidence. That’s why when I got that start, I was ready. That was my time to shine.”
Q: You’re from Fort Myers, Fla. What was it like coming to Arkansas from there?
A: “It was different. I came up here to meet new people and be around new things. It was way different. Coming from my city to here, things are a lot slower here.”
Q: What’s your advice to other Florida recruits considering Arkansas?
A: “You come here just to put your head down and work. Your time is going to come as long as you drive to be great and just be consistent every day. You can do that here.”
Q: Did you think you were under recruited coming out of high school?
A: “A little bit. I had a few offers, but I do feel like I was under recruited. I wasn’t the 4 star or 5 star type guy, I was like a 3 star or 2 star. But I knew once I got to a program, I was going to be successful and be that guy.”
Q: You’ve been helping some of the younger defensive backs so far in fall camp. What do you tell them and why is it important to you to help them?
A: “It’s important to me because the guy I’ve become was by working hard every day and grinding on and off the field. I try to put these young guys under my wing like [Chevin Calloway], [Kamren Curl], Jordan [Curtis], Jarques [McClellion] and tell them just to come in a be the same guy every day and just come and work.”
Q: What have you seen from them?
A: “Chevin and Kam look pretty good. They’re at college speed already.”
Q: What do you tell those young corners when they get beat in practice?
A: “I just tell them put that behind you. Receivers got a scholarship just like you do. They’re going to make plays and you’re going to make plays. I just tell them put that stuff behind you and just keep competing every day. You’ve got to have a short memory at this position.”