Editor’s note: Wide receiver Niles Paul, drafted by the Redskins in the fifth round out of Nebraska, is keeping a weekly diary for The Post about his efforts to cope with the NFL lockout and make the team.
So over the past couple months I’ve been reading and hearing a lot of stuff about what people think I bring to the table as a draft choice. Some stuff I agree with and some stuff couldn’t be more far-fetched. So I just wanted to dedicate this blog to talking about what I think I bring to the table as a 5th round draft choice for the Washington Redskins.
I’m a 6’1 226-pound receiver with a nasty attitude and I’m not too proud to do the dirty work. As a starter at Nebraska I was always the person they called on when they wanted to send the other team a message by crack-backing or just straight up hitting one of their bigger players in the mouth. Even though I wasn’t successful every time, that never stopped me. I played every special team possible at the university. Even when I took on the role as the number one receiver at Nebraska, I continued to play my role on special teams until Coach Pelini actually felt like I was wearing myself out during games and they needed me more on offense than anything else. So he asked me to step back on a few special teams.
I get my attitude, my competitive spirit and determination to be the best from my Dad. He never let me settle for anything less than that. I remember when I was 12 and I made it all the way to the Junior Olympics finals in the hurdles. I placed second and was so disappointed because I felt like I should have won. I was so determined to win that it completely slipped my mind that I was the second fastest person in the world at this event for my age group.
That’s why I always say I am my own biggest critic. I’m always looking for ways to become better. So it bothered me when I read stuff about me throughout this whole process that questioned my work ethic, because every coach I have ever had will go to war defending me when I say that I’m one of the most hardworking people you will meet.
Things happened to me at Nebraska that I would never in a million years think would ever happen to me. I specifically remember one game when I caught a 70-yard bomb and was getting ready to score when all of a sudden my knee knocked the ball out of my arm. Coach Gilmore and I watched film for hours trying to figure out how it happened, but he was just as baffled as I was.
I received a lot of criticism for this as well as some other things that have happened to me during a game, but I’ve always managed to turn all the hate and disbelief into motivation. I know I made some mistakes on and off the field but everything happens for a reason and everything I went through at Nebraska has prepared me mentally to become an NFL player.