Back Chris Paul, Jr: “Not a Fictional Pooh”

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Chris Paul, Jr: “Not a Fictional Pooh”

By Barry Every
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Last year as a sophomore he recorded 94 tackles, 12 TFL’s and 6.5 sacks, all team highs.

“You’ll never catch me lacking and I’m going to push my teammates the same way.”
~Chris Paul, Jr.

Three years ago Shelton Felton led Cordele (Ga.) Crisp County to a (13-1) record, the best season in school history. The previous ten seasons the Cougars finished above .500 just three teams, each finishing with a (6-5) mark. Soon after the record setting season Coach Felton left for the college ranks.

Crisp County would then tab assistant coach Brad Harber as their next head man. The pressure to win would be enormous and in his first two seasons at the helm he has led the Cougars to a (16-6/7-0) record and two Region Titles. His intentions now are to lead Crisp County to a fourth consecutive Region Title with all eyes on the prize of a GHSA-AAA State Championship.

A defensive difference maker that Coach Harber will be counting on this coming season is 6-foot-1, 220-pound junior linebacker Chris Paul, Jr. Last year as a sophomore he recorded 94 tackles, 12 TFL’s and 6.5 sacks, all team highs. His football prowess led to being named Region 1-AAA Defensive Player of the Year while also being recognized as GHSA-AAA Honorable Mention All-State by the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

“I’ve known Chris since he was a ball boy in middle school; He was always that kid who listened and took everything in,” Harber said. “He is just such a great kid that looks you in the eye and shakes your hand. He is just so respectful and it really helps that he has two caring parents in the home to guide him.”

Even as a freshman on varsity Paul left his mark. In just four games at linebacker he racked up 23 tackles, three TFL’s and one sack. His football acumen did not go unnoticed as he was selected to play in the Georgia Elite Classic where he led Team National with 6.5 tackles. After his sophomore campaign he was again recognized for his gridiron feats being selected to the GACA All-Star Game. There he accumulated a whopping 11 stops, four TFL’s and two QBH’s.

“Chris, whose father is on my staff, has one thing in common with every football coach’s son; they understand the game of football and always get the team in the right alignment,” Harber said. “He can make mistakes but because of his instincts he can quickly overcome with quickness to the ball and he is simply a hard hitter. This young man is never afraid to work whether it is in the weight room, conditioning drills or practice.”

On the recruiting front Paul already holds scholarship offers from Akron, Cincinnati, Kentucky State, Michigan State, Nebraska, TCU, UCF and West Virginia. He is also receiving heavy interest from Auburn Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kentucky and Tennessee. Paul has already made unofficial visits to Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech and Michigan State. Last year he camped at Georgia, Notre Dame and Virginia Tech with plans on hitting Kentucky and Tennessee this June.

“Chris is still young and the changes he has made with his body from freshman year to sophomore year are showing; he’s more muscular, leaner and taller,” Harber said.  His football IQ will continue to grow and he is definitely the one kid in his grade that will end up Power-Five. College coaches need to know that he is extremely conscientious about athletics and academics.”

Paul currently holds a 3.3 GPA and is scheduled to take the SAT for the first time in June. He’s no slouch in the weight room either where he boasts a 275-pound bench, 450-pound squat and a 300-pound power clean. Paul also takes part on the baseball and basketball team for the Cougars.

“I feel that I am a very physical player that plays at a fast pace,” Paul said. “You’ll never catch me lacking and I’m going to push my teammates the same way.”

Crisp County has made early exits in the GHSA-AAA playoffs the last two years at the hands of Zebulon (Ga) Pike County, by a total of just seven points. So making that deep run in the playoffs is one of the many goals Paul has marked on his dance card.

“I have to become a more vocal leader and push my teammates to the limit,” Paul said. “We have to make that run and my job is to help lead this team to a State Championship. So I have to do more than lead by example and work on being the outspoken leader.”

High School pundits should be very careful how they rank the Cougars this year. They have a brutal non-Region Schedule that includes GHSA-AAAAAAA members Snellville (Ga.) South Gwinnett and Tifton (Ga.) Tift County. They also take on GHSA-AAAAA powers Hampton (Ga.) Dutchtown, who finished (12-1) last year and the defending State Champion Bainbridge (Ga.) Bearcats. The bad news is these games are all in successive weeks. The good news is that they are all played in the Cougar Den.

Paul is affectionately known by his coaches and teammates as Pooh. After seeing him play this past Friday night in the spring scrimmage, you can bet your bottom dollar that this bear is packing no honey. He’s bringing a punishing brand of fury to the most physical game of chess you’ll ever see. That game is called football.