November 10, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils quarterback Taylor Kelly (10) is brought down by Southern California Trojans linebacker Hayes Pullard (10) during the second half at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

USC 2012 Evaluations: LB Hayes Pullard

:Stats 13 games played, 107 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 interception, 1 touchdown, 1 pass deflected

What Stood Out Hayes Pullard has been consistent over the past two seasons as one of USC’s most reliable linebackers, and he’s only a redshirt sophomore. In 2012 he was even more of the ferocious tackler that he was a freshman, upping his total tackles from 81–which made him a co-leader of the team in that stat with fellow redshirt freshman Dion Bailey–to 107. He recorded an INT for the first time in his USC career in 2012, one that he took back 27 yards to the house. One could even make a case that playing him at middle linebacker, as USC’s current MLB, Lamar Dawson, has yet to be nearly as productive. He’s young, but he has already made a name for himself as a LB that gives opposing offenses a headache.

What Needed Work: Despite the fact that he made over 100 tackles in 2012, Pullard had hardly any big plays. His interception against Hawaii was his only one this season, though to his credit, it is an improvement from 2011, where he didn’t have any. The Trojans’ inability to make big defensive stops or force a significant number of turnovers this year really hurt them, and was really what turned what could have been Ws into Ls in a few of USC’s games. To really make himself stand out from the pack in 2013, Pullard needs to add more interceptions, sacks, and tackles for loss to his name. Then, he will be the complete package.

Final Word: Pullard has proven to be one of USC’s most reliable defensive players, and he is only going to get better. His aggressive style of play is a joy to watch, a beacon of hope in a defense that was largely regarded as soft. Look for Pullard to be a leader of the defense as he continues to mature in the Trojan program.

How Would You Grade Hayes Pullard In 2012?

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