In his first start for the Arkansas Razorbacks, Island Coast graduate Ryan Pulley was arguably the best cornerback on the field in a double-overtime win over ranked Texas Christian University on Sept. 10.
Lauded for his ability in press coverage, Pulley knocked away three passes and recorded four tackles in a game that put the Razorbacks on the radar with college football’s elite.
Then Saturday came, and Pulley was tasked with shutting down Texas State receivers.
The 6-foot, 200-pound defensive back once again came up with a big play, snatching an errant second quarter pass away for a 25-yard interception return for a touchdown, part of an emphatic 42-3 Razorbacks win that catapulted the team up to the No. 14 position in the national rankings.
On the play, Pulley ran through the end zone and almost into the tunnel below the stadium. After three games, Pulley is in the top 10 in college football in pass breakups.
Following the game, Arkansas coach Bret Bielema told SECcountry.com that “Ryan is a very athletic corner, a very gifted corner, but he’s got really good ball skills. He probably leads our team in interceptions in practice as well. He just has a way of finding the football.”
Trent Shadid (@Shadid13) September 18, 2016
Only a sophomore, Pulley is getting praise for enhancing the Razorbacks secondary — a weak point a season ago.
Commenting on his first interception for a touchdown, Pulley noted “that’s my first pick-6. I had to celebrate some kind of way.”
Morgan shines for Akron: Naples alum Manny Morgan, a junior for the University of Akron, logged a career best 130 yards on 18 carries in a 65-38 win over Marshall.
South Fort Myers graduate Willie Johnson, a freshman for the Thundering Herd, produced one catch for 19 yards.
Consistency aiding Nunez: Over three weeks of action, Indiana State hasn’t had to worry about its kicking game very much. Naples freshman Jerry Nunez knocked in field goals of 22 and 43 yards in a 27-24 victory over Southeast Missouri on Saturday, moving the Sycamores to 2-1 overall.
Nunez is 4 for 4 on field goals and 10 for 10 on extra points. He hasn’t attempted a kick over 40 yards yet.
Terps best cover CB: It hasn’t taken very long for Immokalee grad JC Jackson to acclimate himself to the University of Maryland’s football team.
In just his second game in uniform following a transfer from Florida and a year spent at JUCO, Jackson logged five tackles, one interception, two pass breakups and one quarterback hurry during a 30-24 double overtime win over Central Florida.
Arizona’s special weapon: Tyrell Johnson is back to his usual self. The Island Coast alum scored a 26-yard touchdown against Hawaii on a reverse, his first TD of the 2016 season, in a 47-28 win.
Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) September 18, 2016
Johnson finished with 53 yards of total offense, including two returns for 26 yards.
Bulls rising: It’s no surprise the University of South Florida is emerging through college football’s elite following their 45-20 win over Syracuse.
Southwest Florida graduates continue to be a big reason why. Immokalee grad D’Ernest Johnson found the end zone on an 83-yard punt return in the fourth quarter, which was part of 139 all-purpose yards on the night.
But teammate Deadrin Senat, another Immokalee alum, had an even better game, logging 10 tackles and one for a loss. Immokalee grad Jaymon Thomas also produced six tackles.
Dunbar alum Ryshene Bronson had one catch for 11 yards.
Byrd slowly finding role with Vols: Naples grad Tyler Byrd is becoming a solid contributor to the University of Tennessee offense, grabbing two passes for 15 yards in a 28-19 win over Ohio on Saturday in Knoxville.
Cavaliers endure another loss: The University of Virginia has had a rough start to 2016. The Cavaliers took their third straight loss to the season, 13-10 to Connecticut on Saturday, despite 241 passing yards from Island Coast grad Kurt Benkert, who was 23 for 42 with one interception.
Correction: A previous version of this article stated that South Florida was ranked in the college football top 25.