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Drop Back to the Future

A Duke hoops standout considers a return to his first love

In 2004, Greg Paulus was a golden-boy high school QB in Syracuse who had college recruiters making straight-faced Joe Montana comparisons. So after he turned down a scholarship offer from Notre Dame to play basketball at Duke, his coach at Christian Brothers Academy, Joe Casamento, couldn't go anywhere without being asked, "What on earth is the kid thinking?" With Paulus's announcement last week that he's considering a return to football five years after taking his last snap, people in upstate New York are saying it's about time. "The memory of Greg as a great quarterback is still fresh here," says Casamento. "Everyone's been wanting to see what he can do at the next level."

The former Blue Devils point guard, 22, who averaged 8.6 points a game over a four-year career that ended in March, has a long road ahead before he's back throwing deep routes. News that the 6'1" 180-pounder had worked out for a Green Bay Packers scout two weeks ago in Durham made headlines, but Paulus has no plans to enter the NFL draft. He has talked with a handful of BCS schools, including Michigan and Nebraska, but has yet to work out for them. Paulus, who is due to graduate in June but has a year of eligibility to play another sport because he never redshirted, says he's interested only in teams he can start for. (He'll need an NCAA waiver to transfer as a grad student and avoid having to sit out a year.) But at a BCS school, that's a long shot. "Mechanically, he's always been very good, but physically, he's not there yet," says Casamento, who remains close to Paulus. "He has to put on 30 pounds and work up the arm strength."

Returning to the gridiron after a long hiatus is a huge challenge. Ask former Michigan quarterback Drew Henson, a one-time Heisman candidate who has attempted 20 passes in the NFL since the end of his failed baseball career. But those who watched Paulus shatter six New York high school passing records believe he can do it. "His greatest gift was a natural ability to see the field," says Casamento. "He'll surprise people with how fast he learns. If anyone can do this, he can."



PASSING FANCY As a high school QB (left), Paulus set six New York state records.



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