NFL: Multi-sport star Greg Paulus’ next trick — play in the NFL
By JOHN KEKIS
AP Sports Writer
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — After playing point guard at Duke and quarterback at Syracuse, Greg Paulus is ready for a new frontier — the NFL.
“You dream of these things. To have this opportunity, I wanted to take advantage of it,” the 23-year-old Paulus said as he prepared for Thursday’s pro day before at least a dozen NFL teams at Syracuse. “In the back of my mind this was definitely something I wanted. Hopefully, we’re going to get some positive feedback. I’ll do the best I can.”
Paulus ended his one-year career with the Orange with two school records — most completions and highest completion rate. He started all 12 games of a 4-8 season, completing 193 of 285 passes (67.7 percent) with 14 interceptions and 13 touchdowns for 2,024 yards.
Orange head coach Doug Marrone, in his rookie year at his alma mater, tabbed Paulus as the team’s starter in preseason camp last August — less than a week after seeing him throw a pass in person for the first time.
“Only having since the end of May, you only have two or three months to build your arm strength,” said Paulus, who was voted a team captain before the season by his new teammates. “That wasn’t enough. Now that I’ve been doing it a certain amount of months straight and preparing for this time, it’s gotten a lot stronger. It’s not even close.”
Paulus has been working out with Orange strength and conditioning coach Will Hicks and has boosted his weight to 204 pounds, up from about 180 when he arrived.
“I feel good about that. I’m always trying to get stronger, faster, continuing to build footwork,” Paulus said. “I didn’t have as much time to prepare for the season. Being able to work on footwork has been a huge thing. Being able to throw on a consistent basis has allowed my arm and my timing to be better. I’m just trying to continue to get better.”
Hicks said Wednesday that the 12 to 15 NFL teams Syracuse expects at pro day all want to take a look at Paulus.
“Considering when he first got here, he’s made great progress as far as his body weight, strength, core stability, arm strength, those type of things,” Hicks said. “I’ve been getting a lot of interest ... He’s going to have a legitimate opportunity. He’s a hard worker, he’s got all the charisma and leadership skills and the smarts. I just hope he improved enough physically to give himself an opportunity.”
Paulus’s unique college athletic career entered a new stage just days after the Duke basketball season ended last spring. He worked out for the Green Bay Packers and had contact with more than 20 college programs before deciding Syracuse was the best fit.
Paulus handled the transition to football well when one considers he played for a team that had won a total of 10 games the previous four seasons and whose offensive line was constantly in flux as Marrone persevered with a depleted roster.
“You have to respect him just coming in here, not playing the game for four years, not knowing any of his teammates,” said Chris Gedney, an All-American tight end at Syracuse in the early 1990s and now an analyst on football broadcasts. “Everything was new again. I thought he did exceptionally well with handling himself, and that’s the biggest thing.
“It’s hard to train for football. You’re not really building,” Gedney said. “You’re trying to maintain what you’ve put together with a little bit of emphasis on growth. It’s a grind, but if the team’s got a good conditioning program and you continue to grow, who knows where your ceiling’s at?”
Paulus was a record-setting quarterback at Christian Brothers Academy in Syracuse. As a senior running a spread offense, Paulus threw for 3,700 yards and 43 touchdowns in a 13-0 season. He finished his prep career with 11,763 yards and 152 touchdowns passing and was named 2004 Gatorade High School National Football Player of the Year.
Heavily recruited, Paulus opted for basketball and became an Academic All-American and two-year team captain at Duke.
Because he graduated from Duke in four years and did not redshirt, Paulus was able to obtain a waiver from the NCAA, allowing him to play one season of football at a different school without sitting a year.
Paulus has kept in touch with Marrone, who left his job as offensive coordinator and offensive line coach for the New Orleans Saints to take over at Syracuse.
“He’s been a great resource. He’s helped me,” Paulus said. “My passion is as passionate as ever. It’s been on an upswing ever since I started doing this. Obviously, I’d love to have a shot (at the NFL). That’s the No. 1 priority.”