"I haven't been in training camp to show them what I can do yet, but Coach [John] Shoop wants me to compete. And he doesn't see why we can't throw the ball down the field, or why we can't run, or why we can't make great plays every time. We've just got to find the guy to lead and do it," Paulus said.
Butch Davis said he wants to settle in on one or two quarterbacks early this fall in order to maximize repetitions. T.J. Yates made his mark in the spring and Cam Sexton is the other leading candidate. The onus will be on Paulus early to determine if he'll fit into the mix this season or redshirt.
In talking with Paulus, while he's not cocky about it, he's preparing as if he'll play early and often.
"As far as the offense, they just say they're going to do what the quarterback does best," Paulus said. "From what I'm seeing and what I've been taught so far, there's going to be a lot of under center play-action, two or three wide receivers and using the tight end/H-back a lot."
Paulus is also eager to deliver passes to the Tar Heels' young, but talented receiving corps, especially rising sophomore phenom Hakeem Nicks, who awed him with his 65-yard touchdown pass in the spring game.
"On that slant, I don't think anybody couldn't have done that," Paulus said. "Just throw it to him and let him do a ‘65.'"
Davis knows what a challenge it will be for Paulus to step right in and take the job away from Yates or Sexton, but he's anxious to give him a chance.
"When you take a look at Mike and you watch the way that he played football and the throws that he made, and then the system that he was in…you just get a sense that he's a focused young man, a talented young man; and there's a lot of potential there to build upon," Davis said.
Brother Greg Paulus preceded him as the quarterback at Christian Brothers Academy, before opting to play basketball at Duke. He's kept a close eye on his younger brother's progress, and thinks Mike has the ability to get even better.
"Mike's got a ton of talent," Greg said. "He's got a big-time arm, he's really working hard, and I'm proud of him.
"He really didn't get that much game experience until his junior year. But he had a solid junior year and a really good senior year. The more games he gets under his belt, I can see the confidence growing in him. He's really come a long way from where he started."
His high school coach, Joe Casamento, added: "His upside is tremendous, because he just lacks game experience. We do a lot of the things the colleges do, but you've got to go do it game and game again, and he hasn't had that opportunity.
"But his upside is great, and I think he's just starting to realize it. The jump from JV to varsity was very good for him, because he sees the jump he has to make from high school to college."
Paulus will wear the No. 7 jersey for the Tar Heels. He plans to head to Chapel Hill next month to begin summer classes.