Paul pledges to Sun Devils

Prior to his Thursday night in-home visit from coaches Dennis and Bryce Erickson, Kathleen (Fla.) linebacker Gionni Paul didn't know he was going to give his verbal commitment to ASU. Throughout their conversation he felt stronger and stronger about joining the Sun Devils and at the end of their meeting proved the Sun Devils' head coach and RB's coach that their cross country trip was worthwhile.

"Sitting down with coach Erickson and my family - I just felt it," said the 6-0 223 Gionni Paul about his verbal commitment to Arizona State. "It just came to me and I felt it like a sugar rush. That is the place I wanted to be.

"I thought hard and long after my visit there (on 10/30) about where I wanted to go. I had offers from Michigan, Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee, LSU, Florida and Florida State...but I felt that Arizona State was the best place for me.

"They didn't have their best year but I'm going to help put them back on the map."

Paul followed the Sun Devils throughout the season and naturally grew very fond of the maroon and gold defense and the linebackers core in particular.

"Vontaze (Burfict) and myself have become really close and we occasionally talk," Paul said, "and I love the way he plays, how he bounces around and flies to the football. That's how all the linebackers there play and I like that style."

The state of Florida is one of the most fertile recruiting grounds in the nation and it's rare for top flight prospects in that part of the country to venture across the Mississippi, let alone to Pac-10 country. For Paul the decision was purely based on broadening his horizons.

"Leaving the state was never a problem for me," Paul explained. "I grew up all my life in Florida and now I want to see the world. I have never been to the west coast and now I'm looking forward to that. Here in the panhandle it's just Florida – you don't have any states around you (laughs).

"So I'm looking for something different."

The Kathleen High School Devils finished 7-5 in 2010 and lost in the second round of the state playoffs. Paul reported senior season stats of 157 tackles and an interception. As a running back he scored four touchdowns. "Arizona State is recruiting me at WILL linebacker and strong safety," Paul noted. "It doesn't matter to me where I play."

Paul also runs track and may consider pursuing that in Tempe, and could be joined on the football team by Kathleen teammate cornerback Victor Troutman who is also being recruited by ASU.

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