Paul adds depth at line­backer

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SPORTS - JEREMY MUCK

The third in a se­ries pro­fil­ing new­com­ers to the Arkansas Ra­zor­backs foot­ball team.

Josh Paul com­mit­ted to the Univer­sity of Arkansas, Fayetteville in June 2016 and never wa­vered.

“It was Arkansas the whole time,” said Paul, a line­backer who com­mit­ted to the Ra­zor­backs over schol­ar­ship of­fers from Mis­sis­sippi and Mis­sis­sippi State, among oth­ers. “I felt good about my de­ci­sion. It wasn’t just a de­ci­sion I made eas­ily. I went through the process. I felt like it was a great place for me to go to col­lege.”

Paul, who was re­cruited by Arkansas wide re­ceivers coach Michael Smith, a Louisiana na­tive, was one of three lineback­ers in the Class of 2017 for the Hogs. He recorded 81 tack­les, 5 for a loss, 1 sack, 2 forced fum­bles and 1 in­ter­cep­tion as a se­nior for De La Salle High School in New Or­leans, lead­ing the Spar­tans to a 13-1 record and a state semi­fi­nals ap­pear­ance.

The Ken­ner, La., na­tive said he hopes he can be a dif­fer­ence- maker for the Ra­zor­backs in their new 3-4

de­fense un­der de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Paul Rhoads.

Paul said he played in the 3-4 early in his high school ca­reer when he was at de­fen­sive back. Now, he’s at line­backer and en­joys the po­si­tion be­cause of the ac­tion.

“I can cover bet­ter than most lineback­ers,” Paul said. “They’re usu­ally run-stop­pers. I can tackle and play the run.”

Paul took the lessons of his fa­ther, Steph­fon Washington, to heart as a child.

“My dad told me to be­come a man at an early age,” Paul said. “Life ain’t a joke. Life’s too short to play around. You have to take care of your busi­ness. Do the right thing and good things will hap­pen.”

Get­ting away from home is a chal­lenge for Paul, but it’s one he’s looked for­ward to. He said he plans on ma­jor­ing in mar­ket­ing and busi­ness and wants to own his own busi­ness one day.

“I get to start a new life,” said Paul, who ar­rived in Fayetteville for Arkansas’ sec­ond sum­mer se­mes­ter in July. “I get to grow up. My par­ents aren’t go­ing to be there for­ever. You

have to grow up some day.”

The Ra­zor­backs will have Paul pri­mar­ily at line­backer, but he’s shown in his high school ca­reer he can pro­duce on spe­cial teams as well.

Paul’s high school coach, Ryan Manale, had him at punt re­turner in a game against KIPP Re­nais­sance in Oc­to­ber. He was con­fi­dent he would prove his coach right with the move.

“If you put me back there, I’ll re­turn it for a touch­down,” Paul said.

Paul did just that, and De La Salle won 66-18.

Manale told the Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette in June 2016 that Arkansas was get­ting a good one in Paul.

“He’s re­ally un­der the radar be­cause he’s a kid that has never re­ally done the camps and 7- on-7’s and stuff like that,” Manale said.

Arkansas fin­ished 7-6 in 2016, los­ing in the Belk Bowl to Vir­ginia Tech. Paul said he isn’t sure whether he’ll step on the field in 2017, but he’s ex­cited about his fu­ture with the Ra­zor­backs.

“I think we’ll do some big things if we work hard,” Paul said. “The only thing that can stop us is us. Our fu­ture is de­ter­mined by how much work we put in.”


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