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Pulliam living his dream with Averett football

South Boston NewsSouth Boston News
Maleek Pulliam on the defensive line for the Cougars in their game Saturday against Brevard College. Below, with Averett head coach Patrick Henry on Senior Day. (David Conner II photos) / March 10, 2021
When Maleek Pulliam signed his letter of intent back in March 2017 to attend Averett University and play football for the Cougars, it was a dream come true. On Saturday he stood as a proud senior with the Cougars football team.

Pulliam, who graduated from Bluestone High School in 2017, was a standout student and lineman — offense and defense — on the Barons varsity football squad. He was one of the several seniors on the team who led the Barons to postseason play for the first time in the program’s history.

Pulliam said at the time that playoff play was a goal the team had set at the beginning of the season. Fast forward four years, and the Averett defensive tackle is still setting goals.

Playing his senior season of collegiate football, Pulliam said he’s thankful for his time at Averett. With the NCAA extending eligibility due to the pandemic, Pulliam will graduate in the fall and still get in another season of football.

“I’ve loved the time here,” Pulliam said of the university. “[I’ve] made a lot of great relationships along the way, met some great professors and played some great teams.”

Pulliam noted when he signed at Averett, the team was under Coach Cleve Adams, who preached the BAM mentality — Be A Man. BAM was not so much about physical power but more about taking responsibility for your actions on and off the field, being a leader.

Though the coach won’t be with the program this year, the lessons he taught will, said Pulliam.

“The leadership qualities he taught us throughout the three years, he’s been with us have followed us and turned us into the men were are today. All the life skills he taught us along with the game of football is amazing, something I’ll cherish for the rest of my life and teach.”

Patrick Henry was named new Averett head coach in 2020 after serving eight years as an assistant in various positions. Henry’s last position before the head coach promotion was offensive coordinator.

As the team readies for Saturday’s road game versus Methodist University, the senior captain said remaining focused on what’s important is vital to a successful season.

“As an offense and defense we need to learn to control our emotions,” Pulliam said. “Things may not go our way or things may not go how we want them in a certain way, but that doesn’t mean we lose our heads or just throw up our hands.

“If we just keep our eyes on the prize and keep our nose down. As Coach Warren says all the time, just put the ball down and go to the next play.”

Pulliam said as they move forward with the five-game season, he’s hoping to see success on the D-Line, and maybe even break a record. “We’re looking to break the sack race once again in these five games.”

Pulliam said actually with all the talent the Cougars have on defense, this season he sees the unit accomplishing that goal and a lot more.

Since his freshman year Pulliam has steadily improved as a player and his game stats reflect it. The 6’1”, 295 pound DT always looks to better himself and his teammates.

In 2017 Pulliam played in seven games and had two solo tackles and four assists. Last season he played in 10 games, starting in six, had 10 solo tackles combined with 18 assists. He recorded two sacks and received the team’s football service award.

The university said in a Monday statement that beginning in 2022-23, athletics will be leaving the USA South Conference and moving to the Old Dominion Athletic Association (ODAC). Pulliam sees this as a very good move for the university.

“It’s definitely going to open up more opportunities for more competitions, a lot more exposure to teams we’re not use to seeing,” Pulliam noted. “I think it’s going to help us out in the long run.”

Pulliam said senior day was special and something he’ll always remember.

“I just to thank everyone that got me to that point to get where I am and make me the man I am today.”

When Pulliam signed his letter of intent to attend Averett, he said to Bluestone athletes then who wanted to continue play at the collegiate level, “Never give up your dream. If you have a dream keep working hard at it and never quit.”

Pulliam is still living his dream and earnestly working to continue playing football at the professional level upon his final season at Averett.

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