It's official: Mike Paulus has arrived in Williamsburg.
Paulus, the ex-North Carolina quarterback and brother of former Syracuse QB and Duke basketball player Greg Paulus, completed the last of a million tasks related to enrolling at William and Mary on Tuesday, when he got a post-office box.Now, Paulus the most buzzed-about newcomer to the Tribe program, which also inked 13 recruits Wednesday on National Signing Day is settled in and ready to win the starting job.
"That's the only reason why I came here," said Paulus, who began talking with William and Mary coach Jimmye Laycock in December about a possible transfer. "He said it was an open competition, so that's all you can ask for when you're a quarterback, is for it to be fair and to have a fair shot."
Paulus didn't think that was going to happen at UNC, where junior T.J. Yates is entrenched as the No. 1 QB.
Paulus played in four games for the Tar Heels as redshirt freshman in 2008, going 4-for-13 for 33 yards and two interceptions, including a 1-for-4, 10-yard performance in his first career start against Miami on Sept. 27.
Those numbers weren't up to par for Paulus, ranked the No. 1 quarterback in New York after throwing for 2,304 yards and 29 touchdowns as a senior at Christian Brothers Academy in Syracuse.
"At (UNC), I just wanted to maintain and keep leading the team and help the team win," he said. "Now, I just want to go out there and win the job. It's not, 'Hey, let's just maintain.' A lot of these guys want to win a national championship. They went to the final four (last year). There's nothing good about maintaining."
As William and Mary lost to Villanova 14-13 in the FCS national semifinals on Dec. 11, Paulus cheered for the Tribe. The Thursday before the game, Paulus had gotten up at 5 a.m. and driven to Williamsburg to meet with Laycock.
After telling UNC coach Butch Davis he wanted to transfer and discussing his options with Heels offensive coordinator John Shoop, brother of William and Mary defensive coordinator Bob Shoop, Paulus zeroed in on William and Mary and several other FCS schools.
By the Monday after the semifinal, his mind was made up.
"The hardest thing about it was leaving your friends," said Paulus, 21, who will have two seasons of eligibility at William and Mary. "I learned a lot from my experience (at UNC), and I'm a lot better football player and person because of it, but I just wanted a chance to go compete for a starting job."
Paulus, 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds, will try to fill the void left by senior R.J. Archer, who threw for 2,778 yards and 16 touchdowns as the Tribe went 11-3.
Backup Terrance Schmand, who saw scant action last year, is coming off a knee injury, as is fellow redshirt sophomore D.J. Mangas. QB Brent Caprio redshirted after throwing for 4,298 career yards at Mainland (N.J.) High School.
"The whole idea was to bring in a good, solid quarterback who could compete and solidify our situation a little bit," Laycock said. "(Paulus) is a good-sized quarterback that has a real good arm. I think anybody who comes in wants to prove themselves, (but) just because you've been on a bigger level doesn't mean you can walk in here on our level and be a star. It doesn't always work that way."
Paulus knows people will be watching his progress, and he's fine with that. As the youngest of six brothers the oldest four played football at Georgetown he's used to a little pressure.
All he wants now is an opportunity.
"This is my last chance to achieve my dreams and goals and do what I want to do," Paulus said. "You're not going to find me sleeping in or going out partying. I could do that at UNC if I wanted to.
"This is all in or nothing."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun