Quiet, humble, physical and hardworking. That’s how his two previous head coaches have described Andrew Paul, the hottest running back recruit in the country. Coach Daniel Novakov coached Paul in his last two seasons at Parish Episcopal High School in Dallas, Texas and coach Bart Helsley coached Paul in his first two seasons at Keller Central in Fort Worth.
Had he committed this past July, the 215 pound Paul would have had his pick of G5 and FCS offers to choose from including Houston Baptist, Texas State, and South Alabama. Colorado was the only Power 5 school to offer Paul at the time his senior season kicked off at Parish.
“He’s a talented young man,” said Helsley. “It’s just the way recruiting works these days. Once you get the spotlight on you, things accelerate rather quickly.”
Recruiting has certainly accelerated for Paul after rushing for over 2,600 yards and 40 touchdowns last fall, including 338 yards and 4 touchdowns in Parish’s win in the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (“TAPPS”) Division I state championship game.
First it was Missouri in November. Then FBS schools began to flood Paul’s offer list: Cal, Michigan State, Michigan, Auburn, Purdue, Washington, Clemson, and, most recently, Notre Dame have all come calling with offers. Paul has picked up 12 offers in the 66 days between November 2, 2021 and January 10, 2022, all premier FBS schools.
Paul ran for 1,257 yards in two seasons at Keller. Helsley described Paul’s play in a game from his sophomore year. “We played Southlake Carroll in a district ball game, and he was lining up and runnin’ over em,” said Helsley regarding a 2019 game in which Paul and company took on Quinn Ewers and the Southlake Carroll Dragons. “I just remember how physical he was runnin’.” Paul injured his ankle in the first quarter of the game after running for 36 yards on just 8 carries. He didn’t return to the game and then missed the next several with the injury. Had he not, Helsley believes Paul would have run for over 1,300 yards and perhaps would have gained more traction earlier in his recruiting.
Paul would still have to wait for his breakout after transferring to Parish for his junior season. At that time, Parish’s offense centered around 2021 SMU commit quarterback Preston Stone, and Paul split carries with running back Christian Benson, now playing in New Hampshire at Dartmouth. Parish also played in three fewer games due to the pandemic. But Paul thrived with the backfield to himself in 2021, putting up the 6th highest rushing total in the state of Texas and top 20 nationally. “I was lucky to get him,” said Novakov regarding Paul’s transfer.
Paul plans to major in criminal justice and wants to work for the FBI. But if his recent offer list is any indication, some believe he may have a future in another field. National signing day is February 2.
*Felix H. Sharpe is a Co-Founder of Campus2Canton.com and co-host of the Devy Debate podcast. You can yell at him @sharpereview on Twitter.