CG Shades On: Hayes Pullard Makes USC Fans Proud


C&G Shades On is a special weekly column from Sara Kakuris, bringing a die-hard USC fan’s voice and perspective to Reign of Troy. 

I am truly honored to have been asked to write this column. It is a privilege to be given this platform to discuss my favorite topic regularly.

Those who have read my past articles have learned that I am –before anything– opinionated and passionate.

I can promise you the following things for my upcoming columns.

First, I will always be, before anything, opinionated and passionate. Secondly, I will always respect the USC name and the Trojan spirit behind it. I will be unwavering in my love and devotion to the team.

There is never a need to question my loyalty.

However, I will criticize when I think criticism is due. I don’t follow blindly and I don’t believe any team benefits from fans who do.

Thirdly, I will be wrong and off-base at times. I’m not perfect and I can certainly let my Trojan fire cloud my logical and level headed vision.

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I did not grow up watching football, so everything I know of the game began in 2002 with the USC Trojans.

Luckily, my knowledge has grown significantly since then, but I am always learning. Trust me, I know my stuff, but I don’t know it all.

Finally, I will always be honest. This is true in my life and my writing. It can certainly get me in trouble, but it also provides a transparency that I hope you will grow to appreciate.

Now, let’s kickoff the column.

Over the last few days of the draft, Trojan fans have had plenty to be proud of, like the sixth and 20th overall picks.

Six Trojans were drafted, while the remaining four signed as undrafted free agents. The best draft outcome for USC since 2011.

RELATED: Tracking USC’s 2015 NFL Draft picks and undrafted free agents

But my proudest moment of the experience actually came two days prior to the draft.

Hayes Pullard’s open letter to “NFL owners, general managers, coaches and fans”, posted on The Player’s Tribune, exemplifies what it means to be a Trojan. In it, he details his strengths, both on and off the field.

He talks about his higher level thinking that allows him to foresee where a play is headed and discusses how changing defensive coaches every year he was on the team has provided him the ability to adapt and function well in many different schemes.

He puts his loyalty on display, pointing out that he signed with USC the year Pete Carroll left, a time when many were headed for the hills. He acknowledges he’ll have to work to get a starring role, proving himself first with special teams.

This letter displays so much maturity and strong character that it had me beaming as soon as I read it.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Instead of some draft prospects who act like the NFL is lucky to have them, spending their pre-draft days partying, making inane comments to the media and overall proving themselves unworthy of the position, Pullard took the time to show the teams that they would not be sorry to have him.

Now more than ever, character and personal actions are playing an integral part in professional football.

In one open letter, Pullard demonstrated the true integrity of being a USC Trojan. He didn’t ask that anything be handed to him. He isn’t entitled. He detailed what he had to offer and what he is willing to prove.

I’ll take him over the Jameis Winstons and Johnny Manziels any day.

Pullard’s first public comment to after being drafted by the team as the 219 th pick in the seventh round demonstrates the energy and positivity we’ve loved about him from the beginning.

“I’m just happy to be a part of the Dawg Pound and ready to get out there as soon as possible,” he said. Pat Haden even got in on the draft celebration, tweeting, “Congrats to my friend Hayes Pullard on being drafted. One heck of a person!”

The Browns’ gain is certainly USC’s loss and it’s yet to be seen who can fill his shoes, both defensively and as a leader.

While young, Adoree’ Jackson certainly has the diversity and attitude to make big plays on and off the field and it would be great to see Su’a Cravens step up into a top leadership role. We also have our solid force, Cody Kessler, who has the respect of both the fans and the players, to lead us to victory.

Speaking of victories, I think Pullard will kill it with the Browns and he will have one very excited supporter in his corner.

I welcome hearing your thoughts and any future ideas you’d like to see in a column. Feel free to follow me on Twitter at @SCTrojanSara and tweet me any time.

See you next week and Fight On!

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