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Yale's Married Man
At one point in practice Tuesday morning, Yale defensive end Austin Pulsipher made a mistake and coach Tom Williams pounced.
“Did marriage affect you?” Williams recalls saying.
With a ceremony Aug. 13 in Newport Beach, Calif., Pulsipher quickly made himself an easy target among a group of players and coaches he has spent six years gaining respect from. He acts a little differently, says something that raises eyebrows, carries himself a certain way … and he has to hear all about being the only married, and oldest, Bulldog player.
It’s all good-natured ribbing. Pulsipher, 23, and his wife, Laura, 22, honeymooned in Mexico, and with Williams’ permission Pulsipher showed up a few days late to preseason camp. It took maybe a day and a half, Williams said, for the rust to wear off, and since then Pulsipher has gone about his business the way he always has — setting a tone with his enthusiasm, an example with his work ethic and his experience.
“His actions speak so loudly that you can’t hear what he’s saying,” Williams said.
“AP is Mormon,” Williams said. “At BYU, it’s more the norm. There are probably more married guys than unmarried guys. But to be at a place like Yale and have a married guy on the team is a little odd. Of course, it gives us more ammunition to tease him. He does something wrong, it’s all related to being married.
“But here’s the thing about AP. The concern we had with him being a couple days late to camp was that his focus would be off. And it was not. He came back extremely focused on the task at hand. He has been the same red-faced AP that he’s always been. You know you’re going to get 100 percent effort from him every time out, and that has not changed.”
Even before getting married, Pulsipher had an interesting journey, one that took him from Temecula, Calif., to New Haven to the Far East and back. He played junior varsity (as a linebacker) when the Bulldogs won their last Ivy League title in 2006, then departed for a two-year mission for his church, teaching drug rehabilitation and maintaining finances for more than 150 missionaries in Taipei, Taiwan.
The 6-foot-2, 230-pound senior transitioned to the defensive line upon returning. Now he’s part of a deep core at defensive end that includes Cliff Foreman, Matt Battaglia, Dylan Drake, Allen Davis and Charles Holmes. Already, Williams’ preference to utilize that depth has paid off. The Bulldogs were rather flat in the first half of last week’s opener against run-and-gun Georgetown, which often used a no-huddle offense. Yale overpowered the Hoyas in the second.
“Their tackles are getting tired and we’re rolling people in all the time,” Pulsipher said. “They are getting tired and we’re getting replenished.”
Williams played many people partly because it was the first game and he wanted a good look at his roster. But that trend might continue through Saturday’s game at Yale Bowl, the Ivy opener against Cornell, and right into the winter.
“That’s the plan for our program,” Williams said. “We want to develop as many players as we can. We’re going to play a lot of people. If you carve out a niche and show us you have ability to help us win football games, we’ll find a place for you to play. It might not be 80 snaps a game; it might be five. But those five plays are valuable plays.”
Against Cornell, Yale will face a traditional pocket passer in Jeff Mathews. It appears to be a nice opportunity for defensive ends to further assert themselves with pressure. This is the kind of game defensive players prepare for all day and come home salivating over at night. But for Pulsipher, life is a little different now. He lives off campus with his wife, who graduated last year from BYU and just began a job in art conservation at Yale, and he has to consider the X’s and O’s of life as much as the next game.
Pulsipher spent the summer in New York, interning with Deutsche Bank. He has already been offered a job with the company after graduation as an investment analyst, and he plans to take it. With the internship eating up much of his time, there was really only one weekend that worked for the wedding. Pulsipher and Laura met in 2006 — he had befriended her older brother, who was at Yale Law School — and after maintaining a friendship for several years, they got engaged last spring.
“It’s just a really interesting experience,” he said. “Not only having the age and life experiences, but living off campus and trying to establish a home. It’s surreal. Last week, the left tackle, No. 75, [Georgetown freshman Mike Roland], I think he’s 17 years old. … We all put on our shoes the same way, but I think classes and what you do in college are different for me. Their partying schedule is a little different.”
By MIKE ANTHONY, The Hartford Courant