Gallagher column: Catawba's Hester says Paulus has work to do
How’s this for a dream quarterback matchup in Division II football?
Cam Sexton vs. Greg Paulus.
North Carolina vs. Duke, just a step below Division I.
It could happen, according to Catawba football coach Chip Hester. Not likely to happen, but who knows?
Hester was asked recently what he thought about Paulus, a Duke basketball player for the past four seasons, testing the Division I waters in football. Paulus, a star quarterback in high school, is thinking of going to grad school somewhere to play one last year of football. But he must first get a special waiver from the NCAA, which may not be that easy.
Paulus wants to play Division I. He has visited Michigan, Syracuse and Nebraska.
“If that waiver, or whatever he applies for, doesn’t work out, I wouldn’t be surprised if he ended up in Division II,” Hester said. “The rules are a little different.”
Sexton is playing his last year at Catawba after starting for North Carolina last year. So a North Carolina-Duke rivalry could carry over to another division.
Hester said the first thing he thought when he began reading about Paulus’ intentions was, “We’re glad we got the Carolina guy. He’s a proven guy on the college level.”
Hester has allowed basketball players to join his Catawba team, so he knows Paulus has a lot of work to do if and when he joins a team.
Hester remembers 6-foot-6 Brian Carter exhausting his basketball eligibility at Catawba and playing a final year in football as a receiver.
“Even though he was physical on the basketball court, I thought he might shy away from contact,” Hester said. “But he looked to hit people.”
Paulus was a physical guard in the ACC.
“Football’s different,” Hester said. “It’s going to take some time, especially at quarterback. The thing he has to do is come in and earn their respect. He needs to make a quick decision, get up there this summer and work out with those guys. He needs to show them he doesn’t think he’s better than anyone else and he’ll get in there and sweat with them.”
Hester understands why basketball players like Paulus try to play football.
“It gives you a chance to play professional ball,” Hester said. “Maybe some of these guys see they’re not going to make it in the NBA … ‘But maybe I can make it in the NFL.’
“I tell a lot of guys, there’s a lot more football scholarships than basketball scholarships out there. Same thing in pro football. There’s a lot more guys playing.”
If Paulus is given his waiver and performs at a Division I school, Hester isn’t worried about him suffering from stage fright playing in front of big crowds.
“The one thing he has going for him is that he has played in as pressure-packed situations as you can come across,” Hester said. “He competed at the highest level.”
Hester isn’t surprised the Paulus story is so big.
“He’s a high-profile athlete, so it’s an intriguing kind of thing,” Hester said. He was a great prospect.”
Can he make it?
“The percentages aren’t great,” Hester said. “But you never can tell.”