Not just rumors, but news reports have surfaced over the past couple days that Duke point guard Greg Paulus wants to play football in college. In case you didn’t know, “point guard” is a basketball position. Paulus has stated before that he wants to be a basketball coach . . . but he probably can’t be a pro basketball player, since he was benched at times when he was a senior at Duke.
He was good enough in high school that the Green Bay Packers worked him out recently, and he visited Michigan yesterday to talk to Rich Rodriguez about the potential to play quarterback for the Wolverines. Here are some clips from Rivals:
You can see that Paulus ran a passing spread when he was at Christian Brothers Academy in New York. As a junior in 2003, he threw for 2,800 yards and 29 TDs.
Barring illegal participation in intramurals, Paulus hasn’t played competitive football in four years. His timing is probably iffy, and his arm strength at this point has probably declined at least a little bit. This is high-level college football, after all.
But then again, the kid has been playing Divison I basketball for four years. He’s been around great athletes, and he knows how fast they are and how high they can jump and what kind of coordination they have. He’s been in a college strength and conditioning program. Despite his benching, compared to the majority of kids out there, he is an elite athlete.
Ultimately, Paulus has one year of football eligibility remaining; a player has ten semesters of college athletic eligibility, and as long as he doesn’t play basketball, he could still participate in football or baseball or track or rugby. He would be a rarity in college football: a one-and-done player.
This is a zero risk proposition for the Michigan Wolverines. They may or may not be interested in giving Paulus a shot at the quarterback position, but if they are, they have scholarships to give; Michigan signed only 22 players in the 2009 recruiting cycle, and only 78 total scholarships are being used this fall. Paulus could come in and compete for the job. If nothing else, he could run the scout team, since none of Michigan’s scholarship QBs (Tate Forcier, Nick Sheridan, Denard Robinson) could afford to devote time to oppositing team’s playbooks and Justin Feagin should concentrated on playing slot receiver rather than bouncing back and forth between slot and QB.
I have read some opposition to this idea. Some people think that Paulus would be a distraction to Forcier and Robinson. To that I say “poppycock.” Those kids will be playing as youngsters in a high profile environment where everyone will compare them to Pat White in front of 110,000 fans and national television audiences. If the presence of a 6’1″ kid who hasn’t played football in four years distracts the “Quarterbacks of the Future” into sucking even more than most freshman QBs do, then Forcier and Robinson are destined for failure, anyway.In fact, the presence of Paulus would probably distract media types away from Forcier and Robinson and put more pressure on Paulus to show what he can do. Paulus knows about pressure – he was the starting point guard at Duke! – so that shouldn’t be a problem for him.
Best case scenario: Paulus learns the playbook quickly and beats out Tate Forcier for the starting quarterback job. Forcier has already been impressive in practices and in the spring game, which means Paulus would have done an excellent job in beating him out. This would give one of the youngsters a chance to redshirt.
Better quarterback play = more victories = fun for everyone.
Worst case scenario: Paulus throws like a girl and battles David Cone for the title of “Worst QB on the Roster” and then slinks off to grad school somewhere to learn how to be a basketball coach.
Is Paulus-to-Michigan going to happen? Probably not. But nothing bad will happen if he does.