Spring game has Paul ready to light up 2007

Niles Paul has seen his share of Husker games. So this spring game shouldn't be considered anything that is going to make him think any more or less of his days in the future, where he too will be part of the big red. The only problem, it was a difference maker to him. Well, so to speak. The biggest change is that as bad as he wanted to strap it on for the Huskers, he wants to now more than ever.

Talk to any prospect after visiting a team and watching them play in a game, it's pretty unanimous that all of them say they wish they could have strapped it on themselves and got out there. For Niles Paul, he's been thinking that for awhile now, but after this spring game, after watching his future team again and getting to know even more of the future Huskers, this kid's ready to roll.

"As much as I can't wait to play my senior year, I wish I could just get by that and suit up for Nebraska right now," he said. "Watching that game, getting to know all the guys that I will be teammates with, man, give me some pads and let's go."

Don't think that Niles would be willing to just stand on the sidelines either, as he isn't planning on suiting up, happy to just stand and watch the first stringers take the field. He plans to be one of those first stringers, because as he would tell you himself, he's got the confidence that you need to not just be one of the best, but beat the best out there.

"You have to think you are the man out there. You can't play without confidence," Paul said. "You look at this guy or that guy and I'm saying that this is just another guy that I am going to kill."

Paul even said that to himself as he watched the spring game, or tried to watch as he was signing what he figured to be hundreds of autographs before the day was done. He watched the receivers. He watched the defensive backs and from what coach Clinton Childs engrained into him early on, he didn't see how he couldn't succeed.

"He always said be the first in the air and that's your ball, so that's what I have always tried to do," Paul said. "And if you can't get it deep, you take the hitch and you make something happen after the catch."

"I'm thinking about who I have to beat, but when you are out there, there's a lot of stuff that if you do it right, it doesn't matter who's covering me, they aren't stopping me, I don't care who it is."

The process in doing it right, as Paul said, is about footwork, hands, speed and athleticism, something Niles thinks he has some of, but not as much of as he wants right now. That's something else he learned from watching this spring game, seeing just what separates college receivers from those at the high school level. "They run some crazy routes, I know that," Paul said of the Husker receivers. "They do stuff you don't even think of doing at this level, because you can get away with just being faster and being able to jump higher."

"With Nebraska's offense, though, you have to be able to do everything and being a great athlete isn't enough."

It isn't, but it doesn't hurt and Paul knows that he's got enough athleticism to make himself a match for more than anyone he meets on the field. But it isn't enough to believe it, because for someone like Paul, he wants to prove it every single day.

That means facing the best, so when he gets a chance to see someone that might be getting some hype as a superstar DB, if he can, he finds them and says "let's go."

"Like at the Nebraska camp, you find who can play and that's who I want to match up with him, because I want him to know I'm better," he said. "And going to that combine in Iowa City, that's what I am going to do there. You find the best players out there, take them on one-on-one and show them that if they face you, they are going to get killed."

The Scout.com combine set to take place on the 22nd of this month will feature a solid number of players from the Husker state. There's likely to be no more hype around any of them, though, than there will be around Paul and his teammate, Omaha North QB, Phillip Bates.

What's funny about these two is that as good of friends as they are, they are even bigger competitors. So, in an event like this, it's not "us", it's you against me. "Oh, I tell him that he's going to get killed and that if I was on defense, I would intercept him like seven times," Niles said laughing. "He talks a lot of trash, so I make sure he knows that he's good, but he can't beat me."

That attitude trickles down to recruiting as well, as both Paul and Bates had Nebraska offers, but only Paul has made the leap in committing to the big red. Bates on the other hand has held out, making sure that he's going to be a QB and it could be that he's simply not certain where he wants to be just yet.

You might find it ironic that when Paul talks to Bates about where he's going to go to school, he's not necessarily the big red's best recruiter. "I tell him to go someplace else, so he can get killed," Niles said. "I tell him to go someplace else, be a QB and play us and get intercepted all the time."

"Or he can come to Nebraska and win. Like I said, we talk a lot of trash to each other, so I'm telling him to go someplace else. I know who will end up on top."

Paul's style is to find whoever is the best and beat them. His style is also to find out whatever he thinks is wrong with his game and fix it, so it's as close to perfect as he can get. Every single game he watches Nebraska play, even a glorified practice, gets him closer to being where he wants to be.

He's confident, yes, but he's also a student of the game and he knows that if you want to maintain the title as the best, you have to stay ahead of everyone else. "I pick up something all the time that I see I can apply to my game," he said. "Whether it's footwork or routes or whatever, I am always making myself better."

"If you want to stay the best, you can't just sit around and do nothing. I don't. I am always doing something that will make me better than the other guy."

With one more year to go in prep ball, Paul said he's excited about taking his game to the next level and learning and doing more so that he can set himself apart. It's not like he's looking to become more attractive to other schools, because he already knows where he's going to be at.

But he wouldn't mind showing them what they didn't get. "I'm out to show out anyone I go against and that I'm the best in the class of 2007," he said. "If you think you are the best, I want you to face me."

"I've always been confident, but the better I get and the more I learn, the more confident I am getting. There's nobody out there I can't beat."


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