Lee Impressed by Paulus

A two-sport star in high school, PSU's standout linebacker can appreciate the Orange quarterback's basketball-to-football transition.

Penn State linebacker Sean Lee was a two-sport star while in high school at Upper St. Clair in suburban Pittsburgh.

On the hardcourt, Lee led the Panthers to the WPIAL AAAA championship.

This Saturday, Lee will face a player who takes the two-sport concept to a different level. Syracuse quarterback Greg Paulus was a Duke point guard for the past four years before transferring to the Orange to pursue a master's degree and a year of college football.

“I think that's great that he had a ton of success at Duke playing at that high level of basketball, then to come out and play as well as he did,” Lee said. “I don't think there's a lot of guys who could come out and be as crisp as he was in the first game.”

In Paulus' first game since his senior year of high school -- 2004 -- he completed 19 of 31 passes for 167 and a touchdown. However, on his last throw Saturday against Minnesota, he made a costly mistake. His overtime interception led to a game-winning Golden Gophers' field goal.

“For him to not play for four years and come back and play at the level that he did, in the first game, was very impressive,” Lee said. “That's not easy to do, especially at a high positional level.”

Lee hopes his defense will capitalize on Paulus' inexperience. That could come from a defensive line that tortured the Akron offense in Penn State's season-opening 31-7 win.

The defensive line recorded three sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss against the Zips.

“If your D-line is playing well at a high level, with the intensity that ours was, it's tough for the QB to get the ball off,” Lee said. “[The quarterback is] gonna be rushing a lot of throws. A lot of times, it ruins their timing. For somebody who hasn't played in a while, seeing that type of rush every single play isn't easy.”

The status of one of the key cogs in the Penn State defense still remains in doubt.

Linebacker Navorro Bowman suffered a slight groin strain in the first quarter against Akron and did not return.

“He didn't practice Tuesday,” Lee said. “I don't know what he's going to do when it comes to the game Saturday, but I know he's been rehabbing non-stop. He's been in there twice a day trying to get that groin better.”

Lee was posed a hypothetical during his teleconference: If he would have played last year and graduated, would he have been able to make the same transition that Paulus did?

“No, I don't think so. Not at a level like Duke,” he said. “Especially [since] I put on about 35 to 40 pounds since I've played basketball.”

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