Greg Paulus made his debut as a collegiate quarterback Saturday for Syracuse University and the former Duke University point guard nearly led the Orange to an upset win over the University of Minnesota before the Golden Gophers escaped the Carrier Dome with a 23-20 victory in overtime.
Paulus, 23, who graduated early from Duke and received an NCAA waiver to play football for the Orange as a graduate student, completed 19-of-31 passes for 167 yards and a touchdown after four years removed from the gridiron.
“If Paulus had been playing football all this time, obviously he’s one of the top quarterbacks in the country,” proclaimed Minnesota Coach Tim Brewster.
New Syracuse Head Coach Doug Marrone devised a conservative game plan for Paulus that relied mainly on screen passes and quick out-patterns.
Paulus, the 2004 Gatorade National Football Player of the Year, thrived for the bulk of Saturday's game in his rediscovered role behind center.
Unfortunately for Paulus and the Orange, the Wisconsin native threw a crucial interception that ultimately allowed the Gophers to kick the game-winning 35-yard field goal.
“No moral victories,” said Paulus, a 2006 ACC All-Freshman first team selection at Duke. “My interception at the end, that’s a big mistake that I can’t make or shouldn’t make. That’s unacceptable.”
Paulus, who worked-out for the Green Bay Packers in April 2009 and also discussed playing college football with coaches at the Universities of Nebraska and Michigan, said he will learn from his mistakes and improve his game.
“The old Duke saying is, ‘Next Play,’” Paulus said. “Coach K says it all the time. This is one of those next plays. Learn from it and get better.”
The Orange will venture down to Penn State this week to play in front of 100,000 rowdy fans Saturday at “Happy Valley.”
Paulus is confident that he will be able to perform and excel in front of the Nittany Lions hostile supporters.
“Having the experience and opportunity to play for Coach K and Duke, it prepared me for everything,” Paulus said.
The Orange will not be “prepared” to encounter a talented Penn State squad this coming weekend.
However, by the time the NFL Draft is conducted next April, expect Paulus to be a “prepared” and qualified professional prospect at the quarterback position.