From basketball to NFL?

Duke's Paulus works out at quarterback for Packers scout

Staff WriterApril 15, 2009 

Greg Paulus hasn't played a down of college football, but the Duke basketball player worked out for the NFL's Green Bay Packers last week.

Duke spokesman Matt Plizga confirmed the report by ProFootballTalk.com that Paulus, a high school All-American at quarterback, worked out for a Packers scout Thursday. Paulus threw passes on campus to Duke's All-ACC receiver, Eron Riley, who is considered a late-round draft prospect. They were the only two players at the workout, Plizga said.

Paulus started three seasons for the Blue Devils' basketball team but saw his playing time dwindle as a reserve guard on this season's ACC championship team. He has not taken a snap at quarterback since the 2004 U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

He went 42-3 as a starter at Christian Brothers Academy in Syracuse, N.Y., and set the state record for passing yards (11,763), finishing his prep career with 152 passing touchdowns.

At the time, Scout.com rated Paulus the ninth-best quarterback prospect in his high school class -- ahead of future Big 12 stars Colt McCoy (Texas) and Chase Daniel (Missouri). Paulus received multiple scholarship offers to play football, most notably from Notre Dame.

Technically, Paulus, who will graduate with a political science degree next month, still has a season of college football eligibility. He could play for Duke or transfer to a Division II program. The NCAA changed its transfer rules in 2006, which would prevent Paulus from playing for another Division I team.

Given Duke's quarterback situation, with three-year starter and rising senior Thad Lewis and redshirt freshman Sean Renfree the Blue Devils' top prospect on the bench, it's unlikely Paulus would earn any playing time with Duke in 2009. He could practice with the team, however, and learn from coach David Cutcliffe, a noted quarterback specialist, but that wouldn't help him in terms of game action.

On the basketball court, it was a difficult senior season for Paulus. He lost his starting point guard job to Nolan Smith in November, then briefly won it back in February before getting sent back to the bench. He didn't play more than 20 minutes in the final 12 games of his career.

He averaged 4.9 points and 16.1 minutes -- both career lows -- in 36 games.

Paulus would not be the first basketball player to jump to the NFL without playing college football. Pro Bowl tight end Antonio Gates signed a free agent contract with the San Diego Chargers after helping the Kent State basketball team reach the NCAA quarterfinals in 2003.

But Gates made the transition from power forward to tight end. At 6 feet 1, Paulus would be considered undersized for an NFL quarterback.

jp.giglio@newsobserver.com or 919-829-8938

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