An hour before the MSU football team took the field for the annual Green and White football game Saturday afternoon, Riley and Max Bullough got together to draw up an offensive play.
Then, on the Green team’s second possession of the third quarter, it happened — a 12-yard pass from Riley to Max good for a first down.
It reminded them of their time on the St. Francis High School football team in Traverse City, Mich., that won back-to-back state championships in 2008 and 2009, where Riley played quarterback and Max was a tight end.
They called the package Bullough Brothers, and with their dad, Shane, on the sidelines, they ran it to perfection.
“We just drew it up on the board,” said Riley Bullough, a redshirt freshman linebacker and recently converted running back. “Just act like you’re running and throw it up to him. Not like high school when I would just tell him to go deep and I would throw it to him.”
Bullough finished the day 1-1 passing with 11 rushes for 46 yards, including a 15-yard rush the snap before the pass to his brother.
For senior linebacker Max Bullough, who finished the game with four tackles, including one sack, seeing his brother succeed made him proud, above all else.
He said his younger brother always has excelled at whatever he’s set his mind to, but it was good to get some battle experience on the field.
“You have to be able to do it out in front of some fans and out at Spartan Stadium,” Max Bullough said. “There was no doubt in my mind because I have seen him perform his whole life and I knew he would perform. … I’m proud of what he has done, and I think he has proven he can play on either side of the ball.”
Riley Bullough could play more running back than linebacker, and defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi isn’t happy about losing a solid player to the other side of the ball.
Still, he said as long as Riley Bullough helps MSU come out on top, he’s fine with the move.
“They prepared for that exactly zero times,” Narduzzi said. “Obviously, it was the highlight of the day. As one of our defensive guys, it was good to see Riley carrying the ball well out there. From what I saw today, I think he will be able to help us out next fall.”
Co-offensive Coordinator and running backs coach Dave Warner has had a few practices with Bullough on offense.
He said the 6-foot-2, 232-pound redshirt freshman adds a different, more powerful dimension to the offense, and the limit for Bullough at running back still is yet to be determined.
“It remains to be seen whether he’s the No. 1 running back,” Warner said. “I certainly think there’s a possibility of that. We know the bottom line is that we have to have a stable of running backs for our offense. That’s been that way for the years we’ve been here. We feel like we’ve got three or four right now with Riley in the mix, and they’ll all get their opportunities.”
As far as joining his brother on the offensive side of the ball, Max Bullough was adamant there won’t be any more Bullough Brother play-calls.
“Absolutely not,” he said with a laugh. “I’m a linebacker.”