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Second Level - Pulliam put in the work to get back on field

Former New Hanover High standout Darryl Pulliam (right) playing for Winston-Salem State in the Division II national championship in early December 2012. (Photo by courtesy Winston-Salem State)

By Robert Demetrious

After an undefeated regular season, the Winston-Salem State University football team was on the verge of making history. The Rams had the chance to complete a perfect season and win the Division II national championship.

But just like that, the dream season vanished. The No. 1-ranked Rams lost 35-7 in the title game against Valdosta (Ga). State, as six turnovers wrecked their chance at a victory. Even a strong effort on defense, led in part by former New Hanover Wildcat Darryl Pulliam in the secondary, wasn't enough.

"Coach told us that we can only do our job," said Pulliam. "We made stops. Unfortunately the better team won that day. After a dream season, we shed tears of joy."

Pulliam didn't make the grades necessary out of high school to play college football. Taking some time off, he had the opportunity to reflect on his future. To accomplish his goals of a college education and, ultimately, returning to the football field, he would have to put in the work.

"It's balanced my life," said Pulliam. "It gave me more discipline and focus in all areas of life."

After transferring from North Carolina Wesleyan to WSSU, Pulliam had to earn his spot with the Rams as a walk-on.

Having to knock off the rust from his football hiatus, Pulliam was forced to adapt quickly.

"Being out of the game for almost two years, I had to adjust to being a student-athlete," said Pulliam. "Lot of practice and film and if I wanted to stay on the field, keep my grades up."

Pulliam joined a team in transition. The year before his arrival, the Rams went 1-10 in their final season at the Division I-AA level, but were returning to Division II in the fall of 2010.

"The 1-10 team wasn't something I wanted to be part of," said Pulliam. "I respect the fact how we had the chance to change the perception of Ram football. Making history was something we all dreamed about and we came together to build an elite program. I wouldn't choose any other team in the country to play with. The group of seniors I've grown up with have become my brothers. Years from now, we will look back at the task that we've done and bask in the glory."

Since his arrival on campus, the Rams are 35-4. And after a stellar first season with the Rams, Pulliam earned a scholarship and a starting position.

Over the past three years, Pulliam has grown up. He has realized his potential in the classroom and on the field. He is on track to graduate in the spring and pursue a career or continue taking classes and play one more season with the Rams. He also has interest in pursuing a professional football career. Which road Pulliam takes, he is prepared and excited for the future.

"I was and am very grateful for having the opportunity to walk-on and perform at WSSU," said Pulliam." Not every person has the opportunity to take part in collegiate sports. I'm going to continue to work hard to reach my goals."