And while that success was certainly memorable, it was the more important life lessons learned from Bryant and a few others that helped shape him into an individual who would also seek to lead others toward a special path.
"I grew up in a Christian home, and I called myself a Christian growing up and I was very active in church," said Pugh, who now co-pastors Alberta Baptist with Colby Mouchette. "When I came to the University of Alabama, I got involved with a Bible study and I realized I didn't have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. So as a freshman at Alabama, I gave my heart to Christ and got more involved with Bible study. I began to realize that what brought me the greatest joy was being in ministry.”
After graduating from UA, he went to Trinity Presbyterian School, where he coached before serving for five years as state director of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He then served as youth pastor, and then later, as pastor at First Baptist Church in Jackson, Alabama.
He moved to Sylacauga, where he became pastor of First Baptist Church, and stayed 11 years before returning to Tuscaloosa in 2006 to become pastor of Open Door Baptist Church.
Following the April 27, 2011, tornado that destroyed the former Alberta Baptist Church building, the congregation of that church was invited to worship at Open Door, a three-year fellowship which eventually led to a permanent merge in November 2014 between the churches once the new Alberta Baptist building was completed.
“We built a real partnership there (while at Open Door),” said Pugh, married to his wife Teresa for 36 years. The couple’s three children, K.J., Katie and Kameron, are also involved in ministry. “It’s just really been a good union so far. (Mouchette) is a great young pastor, and a very talented and very gifted young man and a great communicator.”
He said he will always be grateful for his experience as a Tide player, and suiting up in crimson-and-white under Bryant.
“Playing football for Alabama provided me with a platform to share Christ. Coach Bryant was a great influence on my life, and a lot of the things I do now are a result of the way he taught us. It was not just about football and most of it was about life.”