Chicago

Kyle Pugh has been playing football for NIU Huskies for eight years, bouncing back from injuries

DE KALB, Ill. (CBS) — The COVID season allowed many scholar athletes to get an additional year of eligibility.

That was the case for one Northern Illinois University and former Bloom High School football standout. But as CBS 2’s Matt Zahn reported Tuesday, that was only one piece of the story about an unprecedented and prolonged time at NIU for Kyle Pugh.

“It’s a unique experience,” Pugh mentioned. “I really don’t know how to describe it.”

Pugh is a senior linebacker for Northern Illinois and a two-time all-conference performer – however the one further year of eligibility is just not what makes his expertise distinctive.

Pugh is in his eighth season with the Huskies. Yes, that is proper – eight years of playing school football. How he obtained so far, as Pugh places it, was by an extended record of unlucky occasions.

“I came here in 2015; redshirted my freshman year, which is pretty normal. 2017, I made my first start – got off to a pretty good start for the first four games, and then I tore my bicep tendon,” Pugh mentioned. “Came back in 2018, played through a little bit of a shoulder injury, but I only missed one game. We won the (Mid-American Conference). Got surgery after that season. And then in 2019, two games, I reinjured that same shoulder, so I lost my second season. I missed 2021 because the last practice of spring ball, I tore my ACL in a non-contact injury – you know it was just one of those, stepped wrong and it went.”

Any of these injuries on their very own may have been a possibility for Pugh to surrender on his school football dream. But every time, he discovered the energy to maintain combating back.

How does he do it?

“Each one is different process. I think this last one – my ACL – was probably the hardest to come back from because it’s such a mental fight,” Pugh mentioned. “But you kind of just set a goal, achieve that goal, and once you get in a groove achieving those goals, it almost becomes fun. You know, I’m not necessarily saying I enjoy getting injured or anything like that, but just to see the growth that I achieve setting the goal and then achieving that goal.”

What fuels him by the powerful moments?

“My faith,” Pugh mentioned. “Obviously, the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ – my mom always talks about how He gives His hardest battles to His toughest soldiers. So when I’m feeling really rough, I kind of remind myself of that.”

Pugh nonetheless largely appears like another participant when he’s out on the football area, however on campus, that’s when being a 25-year-old can really feel a bit of bit totally different.

“I stay in my room a lot, watch a lot of movies, play Xbox every once in a while,” he mentioned. “You can definitely notice the age difference.”

And Pugh actually simply has one easy aim for this his eighth, and completely remaining, year at NIU.

“I want to go out a champion. I think I’ve been here long enough,” he mentioned. “The eight years would all be worth it.”

The Chicago Heights native says the grind of college is the one factor that has made him actually think about strolling away earlier – saying he’s uninterested in going to class. But on the brilliant facet, he’s on tempo to complete his second grasp’s diploma in sports activities and train pathology, in order to assist individuals with eh psychological facet of rehab.

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