Going back to summer camps this last year, Niles Paul's name was already one
on the rise. At 6 foot, 2 inches tall, Paul had that ideal frame, plus he was
lean and had 4.4/40 speed to boot. He could jump through the ceiling (Paul has a
36 inch vertical), had great hips on defense and great elusiveness in the
It wasn't hard to see his future
During his junior campaign this last season for Omaha North, Niles just added to his resume', catching 32 balls for 700 yards and 11 scores on offense, plus 75 tackles, three interceptions and two fumble recoveries on defense.
He and his teammate, quarterback Philip Bates Jr., were already hands down the two best players in the state for 2007. Whether they would be recruited or not wasn't a question, because it was obvious. The only question was, how many offers would each one end up with before they pulled the trigger for whatever school they wanted to attend.
Paul's ended up at one, that offer coming from Nebraska, his first and only written offer, mostly because the recruiting process for him as barely even begun.
Paul didn't care and wasted no time, because this last weekend he said that his recruiting is already over, because he knows Lincoln is where he wants to go. "I have been watching Nebraska for awhile now and I know a lot of people have been criticizing them, but I see how much better they are getting," Niles said. "I told my mom that I wanted to play for them, because that's where I want to be."
If you consider the bloodlines alone, Niles has a bright future ahead of him. The nephew of Ahman Green, an All-Pro for the Green Bay Packers, and the cousin of Tierre Green, a running back converted to cornerback for the Huskers. Just based on that, even Paul had to know that his name would be one that all colleges would be looking at in the future.
You have to ask, when a young man has a shot to be one of the most recruited prospects in the Midwest, what makes him pull the trigger now? "My uncle (Ahman) went through all of this before and that's
nephew of Ahman Green|
has prepared Paul for recruiting,
future in football
"I know Nebraska is where I want to be."
Needless to say, Paul has a little familiarity with the Nebraska program. Being related to Tierre Green is one thing, but current starting cornerback Cortney Grixby is someone he has known for years. That, plus everything he's learned just from watching, has given him some obvious insight into the team that some recruits might not have.
As it is, though, what Niles says he likes so much about this team isn't anything you have to be an insider to know, because anyone that watches them can see it for themselves. "These guys play as a team, not like individuals at some other places you see," Paul said. "They don't get down when the game isn't going well. They just get back up and start fighting back."
Paul likes the attitude of fighting back, but he also likes the attitude of getting ahead. And once you are ahead, just keep laying it on. It's not about arrogance, but dominance, something Paul knows a little about as a player. He'd say it's his mentality, but Paul will also tell you that it's something that he didn't learn. "I was just built with that confidence to play the game," he said. "I honestly don't think there's anyone out there that can stop me."
Niles thinks that to a degree he proved that this year and his numbers would more than back him up. Going into his final year of prep ball, though, he wants to leave no doubt. "I thought I was the best receiver in the state this year, but next year, I want to make sure everyone knows," he said. "I want the school record in receiving yards and just to make a statement."
In a run oriented offense like that of Omaha North, getting receptions isn't always the easiest, so it's usually not easy to think about getting records in the passing game. This year, though, between Bates at quarterback and Paul at wideout, there are going to be smiles abound as Paul said that the offensive philosophy is going to make a slight change. "We're going to be passing it more this year," he said. "We
|Even before his junior year, Paul|
had the physique for the next level
"This year is going to be nice."
What might also be nice, but irrelevant in the end, will be the recruiting that Paul will undoubtedly get. In this day and age, there are few coaches in the country that see a young person as a commit and quit. That's usually when they start laying it on, and from some of the letters Niles had received already, he might have an early idea of just who will be pursuing him next year. "I had places like Notre Dame and Iowa asking me to come and make a visit there," he said. "But I didn't want to wait for that and when I look at Nebraska, things are starting to get good."
Niles is young, but the great thing about who he's known as he's grown up and who he's related to, he probably has a better understanding than many, about where Nebraska is at in respect to where they have been. He's seen so many of the games from the good old days, knows what a good team looks like versus one that is just getting by. And when you ask Paul to look at this Nebraska team right here, you might be surprised at just where he thinks this current and future group can go.
"I think they can get back to where they were like in '95," Paul said of arguably the greatest team in collegiate football history. "This team is so young and they've got so much talent there and coming in."
"The best thing is, you can have goals as an individual, but when a player hits that field, it's all about the team. That's how Nebraska plays; as a team and they never give up."
The most recent example of that was the 2005 Alamo Bowl as Nebraska faced off against Michigan. The Huskers, at one point down 28-17 in the second half of the game, some if not most had probably written them off. Typical to what they have done almost the entire year, the Huskers came back in thrilling fashion, besting the 20th ranked Wolverines.
You probably wouldn't have found too many people happier about that victory than Niles and for a couple of reasons. The first was probably the most satisfying for the younger Paul, because the elder, joined by his brother who lives in Michigan, were rooting for the other team. "My dad and uncle were going for Michigan, so I was yelling like crazy throughout the whole game," Niles said. "And I was talking smack all the time."
The second reason, while not as gratifying as being able to talk smack to the relation, was satisfying nonetheless. Niles knew who Nebraska just beat. "Michigan isn't a bunch of punks out there," he said. "You beat them, you've done something."
"Really, I think this is the biggest victory they have had in a long time, because everyone kept saying that if they played a good team, they would lose. Well, they played a really good team in Michigan and they won."
"So, what do you think of them now?"
The future is looking very bright for Paul, both near and in the up-coming years. He's got the size, athleticism and genetics to say that the sky could be the limit for his ability and potential. Niles might even see some of that himself right now, but that's for the future and he's more worried about the now. After that, it will be his time to join the rest of the big red as this program reaches for the stars…………again. "I'm working on my game all the time, so I can become as good as I can be," he said. "I can't wait for the future, though, because it's going to be good."
"It's going to be a good time to be with the big red."