The Huskers picked up a big commitment last Friday when Georgia linebacker Christopher Paul Jr. became the fourth member of the 2021 recruiting class. Paul, a 3-star (HV Rating 85.3) prospect from Cordele, Georgia, joined Hail Varsity Radio on Monday to talk through what went into his decision to choose the Huskers and more.
— Christopher “POOH” Paul Jr. (@PoohPaul4) March 20, 2020
Paul has been adjusting well so far to his school going to distance learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The linebacker is on track to enroll early at Nebraska and his parents are helping to keep him on top of his schoolwork.
Speaking of school and classes, every recruit has a moment when things click for them with their academics. Paul knew something was different after his visit to Lincoln last November for the Wisconsin game. Yet it was a visit from inside linebackers coach Barrett Ruud to his hometown that cemented the relationship with Nebraska.
“The bond that I built with the coaches, it was unbelievable,” Paul told Hail Varsity Radio. “It was amazing. When Coach Ruud made time out of his busy schedule to fly down here to spend some time with me in my town that was great. He showed that he didn’t just love me as a player but as a person. I built a bond not just with one coach but every coach on the staff. From the head coach to the offensive coordinator. The defensive side of the ball too. It was amazing and I couldn’t have made a better choice.”
Ruud flew down to Georgia during the contact period in January to see Paul. Tight ends coach Sean Beckton was also a visitor at his school but the visit from Ruud was the unexpected one. Paul said that few coaches come to a small area like Cordele, Georgia, so it was impressive that Ruud made time to come see him. It was the pitch Nebraska made to develop him that resonated with the defender.
“Coach Ruud told me that they would be able to develop me in many ways,” Paul said. “Not just football but also my character as well. But with their defense I like their style of play. They play a lot of hard-nosed, fast-paced ball. I’m in that same type of defense now. It’s really a perfect fit. With Coach [Scott] Frost signing that extension, he’s going to make things happen at Nebraska. I feel it in my soul that he will.”
One of Paul’s best attributes as a linebacker is his instincts. He has a knack for being around the ball but says that doesn’t happen by accident. He and his teammates at Crisp County High School put in a lot of extra work getting to school early to watch extra film of opponents. Paul also knows that the solid play in front of him on the defensive line allows him to room to run and make tackles.
The game of football is something that Paul enjoys a great deal. It’s not just all about the games for him though. The bond with teammates and the life lessons the sport can teach you are important. His father’s love of the game also rubbed off on him and that all helped him to become a better leader to his teammates.
“Without leadership a team can’t be a winning program,” Paul said. “You need coaches but you have to have someone as a player to guide other players in the right direction. If you just have coach telling you, it’s not enough. If you have a coach saying you need to get a workout or get more film work sometimes a player won’t hear that but if you hear that from your peer, they are most likely going to go along with that player because of his leadership. They want to follow into the best position possible.”
Paul, who has the nickname “Pooh,” has an interesting story on how he got that nickname. Both his parents actually had that nickname from family members and friends as kids. It just moved over to him. After taking an interception back for a touchdown in a Pee Wee game, his mom jumped up and yelled, ‘There you go Pooh, that my baby!’ and it’s stuck ever since.
When Paul got to high school and started playing smash mouth football, the name still hung on. In fact, the type of football Nebraska is known for is what he thinks is drawing Georgia players up North to check out the Huskers.
“Nebraska plays that hard-nosed football,” Paul said. “Here in South Georgia we love that. That’s how we play down here. It’s the same type of ball that Nebraska plays. That’s why a lot of Georgia kids are having more interest in Nebraska than some SEC and ACC school. That’s no offense because you have some of those schools who play smash mouth ball but Nebraska is the true definition of that.”
You can hear the full interview from Monday’s Hail Varsity Radio show here.