The Clemson Insider caught up with the head coach of a running back in the 2022 recruiting class that Clemson has expressed interest in, as a possible fallback plan for Trevor Etienne.
Clemson has been monitoring Andrew Paul, a three-star running back out of Dallas’ Parish Episcopal School.
“What they told us is they have a lot of interest in him, but they haven’t offered him because of [Travis] Etienne’s little brother,” Paul’s head coach, Daniel Novakov, told TCI. “I’m not sure how many backs they’re taking in this class, but I know they’re definitely interested. [C.J.] Spiller was at the game and then I’ve been talking with [Brandon] Streeter too. I’ve heard from both of them, I don’t know where they stand with it, but that’s my understanding of it.”
Clemson was in attendance for one of Paul’s playoff games earlier last month. Novakov assumes that signifies they’re pretty interested. Streeter, Clemson’s newly-minted offensive coordinator, followed that up by saying that they were definitely interested in Paul and that they’re still in the market for him, Novakov said.
Novakov is unsure of whether Paul plans to take an official visit to Clemson. He doesn’t think Paul has figured out where he’s going. He’s taken an OV to Colorado, so he has four remaining and there are only three weekends remaining before the signing period.
Since the start of the month of November, Paul has seen his recruitment take off. He’s earned offers from Cal, Michigan State, Auburn, Houston, Purdue, SMU, Washington State, TCU and the University of Michigan.
“A lot of kids get frustrated because they feel like they should have certain offers at certain times,” Novakov said. “Instead of him worrying about that, he just went to work.”
“He was definitely really good last year,” Novakov added. “He was an all-state running back last year. So, it’s not like he came out of nowhere. I just think he worked really hard and then also, he got a lot of confidence his senior year and became the man. He definitely worked his butt off. The improvement I saw from junior to senior year — I mean he was really, really good as a junior — but the improvement I saw, you very rarely see that and I think it was a testament to what he was able to do in the weight room and also working outside with his trainer.”
This past season, Paul put together an otherworldly performance that left his head coach imagining if this was what it was like to watch Bo Jackson in high school.
“For a single season, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more dominant performance by one player at a single position than what he was able to do last year and it was really the last eight games, to be honest with you too,” Novakov said. “It was really pronounced.”
Paul rushed for 2,612 yards and added 41 touchdowns as a senior at the Parish Episcopal School.
“It makes life pretty easy when you know you got somebody like that you can rely on when you need to,” he said. “When everything’s not going right, you just hand him the ball and he’s gonna make everything go right. Certainly makes it a lot more comfortable when you’re game planning, knowing that you got him back there.”
Paul kind of reminds Novakov of former Notre Dame running back Ricky Waters. He has that same slashing ability. Paul is big, but he’s not just a big power back. He can run away from people, he can make you miss, he can catch the ball out of the backfield.
The unique thing about Paul is his size and how he’s very versatile. Novakov said that he’s heard people compare him to Adrian Peterson because Paul’s that same type of slasher, who can run away from you and not just three yards a cloud of dust.
Clemson remains pretty interested in the fast-rising running back prospect, but Etienne, obviously, remains a priority target for the Tigers in this recruiting class.
“I just want him to go somewhere where he’s gonna be happy,” Novakov said. “That’s all I care about…I just want him to go somewhere where he’s gonna get to play, run the ball and be happy.”
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