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Paul adds depth at linebacker

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Josh Paul committed to the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville in June 2016 and never wavered.

"It was Arkansas the whole time," said Paul, a linebacker who committed to the Razorbacks over scholarship offers from Mississippi and Mississippi State, among others. "I felt good about my decision. It wasn't just a decision I made easily. I went through the process. I felt like it was a great place for me to go to college."

Josh Paul at a glance

CLASS Freshman

POSITION Linebacker

HEIGHT/WEIGHT 6-2, 205

HOMETOWN Kenner, La.

HIGH SCHOOL De La Salle

AGE 19 (born Oct. 9, 1997)

NOTEWORTHY Three-star prospect by ESPN, Scout and 247Sports. … No. 41 player in Louisiana, according to ESPN, for the Class of 2017. … New Orleans Times-Picayune All-Metro Small Schools Defensive Player of the Year as a senior. … Led De La Salle to a 13-1 record and a state semifinals appearance in 2016. … In senior season, recorded 81 tackles, 5 for a loss, 1 sack, 2 forced fumbles and returned an interception 80 yards for a touchdown. Also had a punt return for a touchdown. … Chose Arkansas over Mississippi, Mississippi State and others.

Paul, who was recruited by Arkansas wide receivers coach Michael Smith, a Louisiana native, was one of three linebackers in the Class of 2017 for the Hogs. He recorded 81 tackles, 5 for a loss, 1 sack, 2 forced fumbles and 1 interception as a senior for De La Salle High School in New Orleans, leading the Spartans to a 13-1 record and a state semifinals appearance.

The Kenner, La., native hopes he can be a difference-maker for the Razorbacks in their new 3-4 defense under defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads.

Paul said he played in the 3-4 early in his high school career when he was at defensive back. Now, he's at linebacker and enjoys the position because of the action.

"I can cover better than most linebackers," Paul said. "They're usually run-stoppers. I can tackle and play the run."

Paul took the lessons of his father, Stephfon Washington, to heart as a child.

"My dad told me to become a man at an early age," Paul said. "Life ain't a joke. Life's too short to play around. You have to take care of your business. Do the right thing and good things will happen."

Getting away from home is a challenge for Paul, but it's one he's looked forward to. He said he plans on majoring in marketing and business and wants to own his own business one day.

"I get to start a new life," said Paul, who arrived in Fayetteville for Arkansas' second summer semester in July. "I get to grow up. My parents aren't going to be there forever. You have to grow up some day."

The Razorbacks will have Paul primarily at linebacker, but he's shown in his high school career he can produce on special teams as well.

Paul's high school coach, Ryan Manale, had him at punt returner in a game against KIPP Renaissance in October. He was confident he would prove his coach right with the move.

"If you put me back there, I'll return it for a touchdown," Paul said.

Paul did just that, and De La Salle won 66-18.

Manale told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in June 2016 that Arkansas was getting a good one in Paul.

"He's really under the radar because he's a kid that has never really done the camps and 7-on-7's and stuff like that," Manale said.

Arkansas finished 7-6 in 2016, losing in the Belk Bowl to Virginia Tech. Paul isn't sure whether he'll step on the field in 2017, but he's excited about his future with the Razorbacks.

"I think we'll do some big things if we work hard," Paul said. "The only thing that can stop us is us. Our future is determined by how much work we put in."

Sports on 07/15/2017

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