Walking Away

Greg Paulus could be playing the last football game of his career on Saturday, then move on to a basketball career at Duke.

SAN ANTONIO - When East quarterback Greg Paulus walks off the field of the Alamodome on Saturday at the conclusion of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, it will likely be the last football game in which he ever plays.

That's because in November, the Christian Brothers Academy (Syracuse, N.Y.) product signed a letter of intent to play college basketball at Duke next season, choosing the Blue Devils over North Carolina, Notre Dame, Syracuse and Xavier.

Paulus not only holds the distinction of being Scout.com's third-best quarterback of 2005, but Scout.com also has rates him as the third-best point guard in the nation.

This past season, Paulus threw for a single-season state record of 3,677 yards and 43 touchdowns in leading Christian Brothers to an undefeated season and the school's first ever Class AA football title.

For his prep career, he amassed 11,760 passing yards and 152 touchdowns, both state records. As for basketball, the 6-foot-2, 180-pounder is averaging 26 points and 11 assists per game this season.

He will be the East team's starting quarterback for Saturday's nationally televised game and is among five players up for the Ballpark National High School Player of the Year award that will be announced on Friday night.

"I've really enjoyed this week," Paulus said. "Especially since I know a lot of the players in the game are going to be future college stars and NFL guys, but I think I'm doing what's best for me by playing basketball."

That decision, however, as to whether or not Paulus would play both basketball and football or just one of the two sports in college was rather easy, he said.

"I've always known I was going to play basketball," Paulus said. "I just like it better. It's not about the potential money (in the NFL) for me. It's about doing what I want to do, because I'm the one who has to live with my choice and I'm really excited about it."

In addition to the famed Duke basketball program and playing for legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski, Paulus said the school's reputation for academic excellence was another reason he chose Durham, N.C.

But make no mistake about it, Paulus, an honor student, also wants to succeed on the basketball court.

"Duke kind of has a Bob Hurley role for me," he said. "Obviously he's one of the greatest college point guards ever. I just something on ESPN where he was among the top five (college) point guards ever. He won two national championships. If I'm anywhere near that then that'll be good enough, because that means I'll be doing something right and some more opportunities will show themselves."

After 4 days of practice this week in San Antonio, East team wide receiver Eric Huggins said he is convinced that Paulus should pursue playing football instead of basketball.

"It really upsets me, because he's a really great quarterback," Huggins said. "He really throws a good deep ball and is a good fade route passer. He's got good eyes. He can sit in the pocket, see what opens up and then hit it."

East Coach Kenny Lucas, head coach of Gonzaga College High School in Washington D.C., said he understands Paulus' desire to play basketball in college.

"I'm sure he'd like to continue both sports," Lucas said. "But at the caliber of basketball, he'll be playing, I'm sure he feels like he won't be able to continue them both. Either way, he's a leader. I'm sure he'll excel at whatever he does."

Yet recruiting analyst Tom Lemming said he disagrees with Paulus only playing basketball in college. He compares Paulus to Joe Montana in that he is "cool under pressure and a natural athlete who makes great decisions."

"It's a shame that Duke's not going to let him play football," Lemming said. "I think him giving up football is a major mistake. I think he's a good point guard and he may have an NBA career, but I don't think he's ever going to be a superstar. I think he could have been a superstar in football. I think he's hurting himself."

Regardless, Paulus said he has no regrets about his decision to give up football for basketball at Duke.

"Nothing is guaranteed," he said. "Even if I was to play college football and not basketball, there is no guarantee of going to the NFL. There is no guarantee that you're going to be healthy. There's a lot of ifs and risks that you take. But you know I'm doing what I love. Basketball is my first passion and I think I'll be okay."

Had Paulus decided to play football, he said he is not sure which school he would have attended.

"It probably would have depended on my visits," he said. "Notre Dame would have been up there. So would have Miami and Michigan. But I would have had to take my visits, because I never really established a good relationship with (football) coaches and players."

While at Duke, Paulus said he anticipates that he will miss football, but insists he will only play basketball. But should basketball not go as planned, he said football will "always be an option."

"I'm never going to say never," Paulus said. "Right now, it's time for Duke and my goal, which is to be their point guard next year. But that's just temporary. Down the road, I don't how much I'm going to miss it (football) or what's going to happen with basketball. I guess only time will tell what happens."

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