'09 Unwrapped: David Paulsen

When Stanford signed pass-rushing phenom Chase Thomas last month, the Cardinal planted their flag at Marietta (Ga.) Walton High School. Less than a month later, another mainstay of the Walton Raiders' defensive line made an unofficial visit to Stanford for the Cardinal's Junior Day on March 1. Read on for more on defensive lineman David Paulsen, including his reflections on the weekend visit.

On the heels of landing Chase Thomas from Marietta (Ga.) Walton High School, Stanford is once again pursuing one of the Raiders' defensive linemen, this time by extending the first scholarship offer to David Paulsen. A 6'3.5" 240-pounder, Paulsen claimed 75 tackles and 6 sacks playing as a junior alongside Thomas. Paulsen credits his heralded line mate for helping him learn his craft and for helping him attract early interest from Stanford.

"He's definitely a leader that helped me since we played similar positions," Paulsen praises. "I kind of learned from him this year because I was moved to defensive end this year. I'd been playing linebacker before and I learned from him. His recruitment to Stanford is pretty much the reason that I was recruited to Stanford. When they would come out they'd say they want to recruit me. I owe that a lot to him."

Paulsen may also owe the interest he is receiving from Stanford to his athleticism in a fairly big body. Athletically, he reports a 31-inch vertical leap, 4.77 40-yard dash, 4.2 shuttle, and 7.3 3-cone time.

The athletic package Paulsen offers, including a frame that could see him project either as a defensive end or defensive tackle, has him receiving interest not only from Stanford but also a number of other colleges.

"Right now, my top five would probably be Stanford and Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, Michigan State, and Rutgers," he says.

That assessment came after Paulsen had the experience of taking in Junior Day activities last weekend at Stanford with his parents. The trip made a strong impression on Paulsen and placed the Cardinal squarely in the lead for his services.

"It was great," the recruit shares. "You know, everything from start to finish just was everything I wanted to see. It answered a lot of questions about what's out there, what's offered. I met a lot of the players, saw all the coaches I wanted to meet. I got a great look at the campus and met with the professors. Got to know some of the incoming recruits as well as some of the current players. It was a great trip."

Similar to most recruits who visited Stanford for the Junior Day, Paulsen highlights the time he spent with coaches and players as his favorite feature of the weekend.

"I enjoyed first off the tour with the coaches," he emphasizes. "We got to hang out with the coaches a little bit and then we got to have lunch meetings. I got to have a meeting with [Defensive Ends] Coach [D.J.] Durkin. My parents and I talked to him about college football and my future at Stanford. And then we got to go into the player meeting and watch some film and the practice. It was all great."

Significantly, the meeting with Durkin provided Paulsen with a face-to-face glimpse of how the Stanford coaches envision him fitting in on the Cardinal defense.

"He said I would fit in well as a defensive end or maybe, I'm not sure he mentioned this or not, I could play defensive tackle even," Paulsen says of his meeting with one of his two potential future position coaches. "They don't have as many defensive end recruits recently except for Chase Thomas last year. He was the only one but he could be moved around and I could be playing defensive end pretty soon when I get there."

Whether Paulsen projects on the end or inside, he has a clear idea of the attributes he brings to the table as a prospect.

"My quickness off the ball is one of my strengths," he reflects. "Overall, my core strength, my legs and upper body strength helps me overpower a lot of the opposite side of the ball. Good footwork. Strong hands."

In addition to the face-time with Durkin, Paulsen and his parents also enjoyed a significant sit-down with Stanford Head Coach Jim Harbaugh.

"On Sunday, the day after the main Junior Day, we got to go to his office and have a 45-minute meeting and just talk about what it would take to get me to Stanford, what he sees in me as a player there, what it would take for me admissions-wise to be a player there," Paulsen recounts. "I'm looking forward to applying."

Paulsen professes clear seriousness regarding the application to Stanford and plans to apply when he gets the application. Academically, he reports a 3.5 GPA and his current course load includes Honors English, Advanced Placement U.S. History, and Latin.

"Depending on my getting admitted, then that may be one of the top choices for me," Paulsen says, once again emphasizing the application process he will undergo for Stanford. "I'd like to make my decision before the beginning of the season. If admissions doesn't go well, it always depends, but hopefully I can make the decision before the start of the season so it doesn't get in the way of the team with all the attention on me or anything like that."

One feature of Stanford's Junior Day list of recruits that jumped out to observers of Stanford recruiting was the attendance of two recruits from the same town nearly 2,500 miles away from sunny Palo Alto. Joining Paulsen on the trip was cross-town rival and friend Camden Wentz from Marietta (Ga.) Lassiter High School. Just as Wentz did days before, Paulsen claims a degree of comfort in being able to take in the experience so far from home with another recruit from his own backyard.

"He's a real great guy," Paulsen says of Wentz. "We've known each other for about a year and a half. We played football against each other in the fall. I played nose guard and he was playing center so we met on the field a good bit. Off the field he's a great guy. When we got up there, it's a long way but knowing that you have someone there that you know where you came from, it's pretty cool. We got to hang out with all the other coaches, stayed that night and met a few of the players - some of the redshirt freshmen and sophomores. Just compared likes and dislikes. I think we will both have a similar decision. I can see both of us going to Stanford some day."

Stay tuned for more on this pair of Marietta linemen bound by common geography, an unofficial visit to Stanford, and the distinction of having Stanford as the first team to extend a formal scholarship offer to them.

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