For Love of the Game

Greg Paulus, one of the nation's top QB recruits, will instead be doing his passing on the basketball court at Duke
November 15, 2004

Greg Paulus has made up his mind, and he'd like people to stop bugging him. That means you, Ohio State. And you too, Miami. All you big Division I football schools can stop sending your recruiting letters and, while you're at it, your assistant coaches too.

Paulus, a senior at Christian Brothers Academy in Syracuse, N.Y., is by some estimates the most sought after high school quarterback in the country. But he long ago decided on the school he's attending, so these last-ditch efforts to change his mind have as much chance as a 70-yard Hail Mary. Just last week Michigan--a program that, with freshman Chad Henne playing well this season, seems set at QB--wanted to fly an assistant to central New York to persuade Paulus to come to Ann Arbor. "You don't have to," Christian Brothers coach Joe Casamento told the Wolverines. "Greg hasn't changed his mind."

Paulus won't be playing for Michigan. More surprising, he won't even be playing football. Instead he'll be playing basketball at Duke. "People ask me all the time, 'Why aren't you playing football [in college]?'" Paulus says. "It's kind of a mystery to everyone."

What's not a mystery is his ability in both sports. In football the 6'2", 185-pound Paulus's excellent mechanics and cobra-quick release have helped him set six New York state records--including most career passing yards (10,811) and touchdowns (146)--for the Brothers, who after beating Fayetteville-Manlius 49-13 last Sunday in the New York Section 3 Class AA championship game were 10-0 and last week were ranked 19th in USA Today's Super 25. Last year at a Syracuse University summer camp for recruits, Paulus went head-to-head with the Michigan-bound Henne. "Honestly," says one high school coach, "even though Chad throws a hard ball, Greg gets back, gets set and gets rid of it quicker so his ball is there sooner."

Says Casamento, "Greg can be an instant contributor at some place. My assistant coaches all pout and moan because he's not going to play football in college."

But Paulus, who grew up playing pickup basketball with his six siblings on the full-sized court in his parents' backyard and has played varsity hoops at Christian Brothers since eighth grade, could be even better in basketball. Ranked by one scout as the No. 16 recruit in the nation, he's a pass-first point guard who reminds Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski of former Blue Devil Bobby Hurley. Not that he's afraid to shoot--his 1,861 career points are a school record. "In the first high school game he ever played we were down one with 10 seconds to go," Christian Brothers basketball coach Buddy Wleklinski says. "With three seniors on the floor, he had the moxie to take the last shot. He didn't make it, but there aren't a lot of eighth-graders who would be willing to do that."

Like football, college basketball beckoned, and Paulus could have played anywhere he wanted. In fact, Duke, Michigan, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Stanford and Syracuse all told him he could play both sports. Before his junior year, however, Paulus chose Duke over Notre Dame, Xavier, Syracuse and North Carolina and decided he'd only suit up in basketball. The choice raised eyebrows around town. "I couldn't go to a diner," Casamento says. "Everybody asked, 'Why is he not playing football?'"

Paulus explains, "First, basketball has always been my first love. Second, I want to be the point guard at Duke. I don't want any obstacle to get in my way of that, even if that means giving up football."

Paulus was expected to officially sign with Duke when the early-signing period opened this week. Though he hasn't ruled out playing football for the Blue Devils, no one close to him expects him to. (By NCAA rules, he can't play football--the sport with the larger team--as long as he's on a basketball scholarship.) "Knowing him the way I know him, I think he'll be totally devoted to becoming the best point guard he can be," Casamento says. "If you do two sports, you could be an A-minus at both, but you probably won't be an A-plus at either. He wants to be an A-plus point guard."

And that's final.

High Five

With Greg Paulus out of the picture, these are college football's top five recruits this year.

1. Derrick Williams,WR/DB, Eleanor Roosevelt High, Greenbelt, Md. Widely viewed as the No. 1 prize, Williams (above right) visited Florida and Penn State, but other finalists seem to change by the minute.

2. Fred Rouse,WR, Lincoln High, Tallahassee, Fla. The 6'3" wideout visited Texas in the summer, but hometown Seminoles remain in the hunt.

3. Callahan Bright,DT, Harriton High, Rosemont, Pa. One website projects Bright as the No. 1 pick in the 2008 NFL draft. Last season the 315-pounder returned a punt 35 yards for a touchdown.

4. Mark Sanchez,QB, Mission Viejo (Calif.) High USC-bound pocket passer, who gets pumped by listening to Elton John and James Taylor; will fit in perfectly in Norm Chow's offense.

5. Ryan Perrilloux,QB, East St. John High, Reserve, La. Committed to Texas, Perrilloux is a run-pass threat who threw seven touchdown passes in the first half of a 70-0 victory over Ellender on Oct. 15.

COLOR PHOTO JIM COMMENTUCCI/THE POST STANDARD WHICH WAY? Paulus set six New York football records but sees his future at point guard. COLOR PHOTODENNIS NETT/THE POST STANDARD (BASKETBALL) [See leadin above] [See caption above] COLOR PHOTOJONATHAN NEWTON/THE WASHINGTON POST (WILLIAMS)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)