Paulus can only help struggling Syracuse

By Darrell Laurant  |   Monday, May 18, 2009  |  Comments( 1 )

Syracuse Orange
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Most highly recruited high school athletes excel in more than one sport. But except for a chosen few -- Dave Winfield and Ronald Curry come immediately to mind -- a choice eventually has to be made, and it's usually irrevocable.

Four years ago, Greg Paulus surprised a lot of people with his decision. He was a very good basketball player at Christian Brothers Academy in Syracuse, N.Y., but also the Gatorade Player of the Year nationally as a prolific passing quarterback. Notre Dame and Miami, among others, offered football scholarships (Notre Dame even said he could try basketball if he wanted), but Paulus wound up signing with Duke -- as a basketball point guard.

It worked out OK. Paulus started three years as a Blue Devil and made four trips to the NCAA tournament. When Duke finally lost this past March, he was ready to settle into his post-athlete life, maybe get a job coaching.

Then the Green Bay Packers called, asking him to come in for a workout. And Paulus got the bug again. As long as he attended a graduate program he couldn't get at Duke, the NCAA was open to allowing him a fifth year of academic eligibility to play a different sport. Paulus visited Nebraska and several other schools before deciding to return to Syracuse and try to revive the underachieving Orange from under center.

It couldn't be a better situation, for either party. New Orange coach Doug Marrone has already anointed redshirt freshman Ryan Nassib as the starting QB, but he would still have three years to play if Paulus beat him out. And if it turned out that Paulus couldn't remove the rust quickly enough to take full advantage of his opportunity, his experience at Duke -- where he almost always won -- would make him an intangible asset in the locker room of a team in a prolonged collective funk.

As for Paulus, he also plans to work as an aide under Jim Boeheim during basketball season. Having picked the brains of both Boeheim and Mike Krzyzewski should make him quite marketable for almost any college hoops staff should he choose to go that route.

But what kind of quarterback would Paulus make this fall? Hard to say. He's a bit small for his position (6-foot-1, 185 pounds), and readily admits that he needed to get some of his arm strength back. He's been working out with his younger brother Mike, a quarterback at the University of North Carolina.

At CBA, Paulus threw for over 11,000 yards and 152 touchdowns and led his team to a state title. Yet while he played at the top level of New York prep football, which isn't bad, the competition isn't quite the same as Southern California, South Florida or Northeast Ohio.

It all remains to be seen -- and that uncertainty, alone, will shine a preseason spotlight on Syracuse football that normally wouldn't have been there.
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