Already in the running for "Best name on the team", First Year outside linebacker Gladimir Paul looks to bring speed and passion to the Virginia defense. Paul selected UVa over offers from UConn and Temple, and signed on the dotted line last February.
The 6-2, 210 pound Paul looks the part of a typical Jon Tenua prospect. Throughout his coaching career across the ACC, Tenuta has taken underrated recruits and has turned them into NFL draft picks. While it may be a bit premature to make predictions 4-5 years down the line, there is no denying Paul's potential as an outside linebacker/rush end. Paul's game appears to be a combination of former UVa linebackers Daquan Romero and Max Valles. Look for Paul to play a similar role as Valles in the UVa defense somewhere down the road.
Let's take a closer look at this intriguing defensive prospect:
Name: Gladimir Paul
High School: Northeast High School (Philadelphia PA)
Starting experience: Two years, defensive end
Ranking: ESPN/247 3-Star, Rivals 2-star
Recognition: Team defensive MVP, Maxwell Award Nominee, Two-time All-Public League selection, Attended US Army National combine.
Taking a look at the film above, Paul has a nack for making plays in the backfield and sacking opposing quarterbacks. Even if he's nowhere near the ball initially, Paul demonstrates tremendous resolve to go wherever to finish the play. The weakside defensive end demonstrates the ability to rush from the outside and from up the middle.
In addition to having a solid first-step, Paul displays the discipline needed to defend option offenses. At the 2:30 mark, Paul brushes off the up back, who does not have the ball, and recovers to tackle the ball carrier for a short gain.
The Virginia football team must replace all three starting linebackers from the 2014 season, but there is plenty of talent waiting in the wings. In addition, a trio of other freshmen linebackers appear to be higher in the pecking order than Paul at this time.
While Paul possesses defensive intangibles that cannot be taught, he is still raw at the position that he will be playing in college. At 210 pounds, Paul is a big undersized to play linebacker at this level, and will likely spend the year adding size and learning the system.
Valles prepped a year at Fork Union, he did not have much time to learn Tenuta's defense. There was no denying his potential as a freshman, but he admittedly did not know what he was doing in the system much of the time. With over a year to add bulk and get acclimated to the scheme, Paul could be an impact player in 2016 and beyond.