Greg Paulus To Start For
Now that Greg Paulus has been named the starting quarterback at Syracuse, should Orange fans put their hands together or put their head in their hands? No one will really know for sure until Minnesota visits the Carrier Dome in a couple of weeks.
To say that Paulus has taken an unorthodox route to winning this job would qualify as a gross understatement. The former Gatorade National Player of the Year at Christian Brothers Academy (NY) has spent the past four years playing point guard on the Duke basketball team. If he touched a football during that time, it was for recreational purposes, so you can understand why some Orange fans are miffed that the program's best quarterback hasn't worn pads since 2004. Still, this decision from rookie head coach Doug Marrone is likely to produce far more positive results, both tangible and intangible, than problems for the program.
First off, the Paulus story is an intriguing one. He's the prodigal son returning to Upstate New York for one shot at proving he can make it as a two-sport college athlete. People across the country have picked up on the unique development, creating positive headlines about Syracuse football for the first time since Donovan McNabb was on campus over a decade ago. There's finally a reason to discuss this program, which, by itself, is a small victory for a staff looking to generate more publicity.
In just a couple of months, Paulus has proven to be much more than just a novelty act for the Orange. The simple fact is that he's been more consistent than the competition and gives Syracuse its best chance to be competitive this fall. Period. Sure, it doesn't say a lot about the holdovers he beat out, but this is a far better scenario than putting young Ryan Nassib in a situation that might crush his confidence before it has a chance to blossom. Assuming the pecking order remains the same, the redshirt freshman can learn the new system and get occasional snaps before assuming a much larger role in 2010. Plus, he'll benefit in a big way by spending a year learning from Paulus, whose mental toughness and big-game experience are transferable skills that the staff hopes will rub off on the younger players.
If Paulus does nothing else, his arrival has already been a boon to Marrone and his program. People have a reason to talk about Syracuse in a positive tone, which is the first embryonic step toward recovery. He's brought a veteran presence and a love-of-the-game type attitude to the Orange, which, mark it down, is going to result in at least one upset victory this fall. The ball is shaped differently and bounce passes are now frowned upon, but if Paulus proves he can dish it on turf the way he used to on the hardwood, he'll wind up being the best thing to happen to Syracuse football in years.